Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bearing Down for Draft Day

The best player in the 2005 Draft
I've never been a huge NFL Draft guy. The combines, rumors, mock drafts, Mel Kiper's toupee ... it just didn't do it to me. Even last year when I was in New York during the draft, I was far more interested in following the NBA playoffs and charting my fantasy baseball team. And world events, of course.

For some reason though, I've become intrigued with this draft. It has something to do with two stud running backs coming out of Auburn and even more to do with two unbelievable wide receivers. But mainly, living here in Chicago, I'm curious to see what the Bears will do. Most of the speculation has them going for a big running back, likely Cedric Benson. I believe this is a big mistake. If Ronnie Brown slips to #4, fine, take him. If he's not there though, you have to go with Mike Williams. The former USC star is only going to be the best player out of this draft, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to nab him. Especially when you consider that if they don't get him, division rival Minnesota will.

Since I'm always interested in helping out the good people of Chicago, here are the guys that the Bears should take this weekend:

First Round - Mike Williams. A no-brainer. Ronnie Brown and Braylon Edwards are the only other guys in this draft that can be as good as Williams, but they will probably be gone by #4. Even if they were around, Williams is the guy. Ever since he made that transcendent catch during his sophomore year (the one handed palm-job in the back of the end zone - a catch that was the football equivalent of Tiger Woods' amazing chip on the 16th at Augusta), I've just known that this guy was going to destroy the NFL. Why pass on a sure thing?

Second Round - Eric Shelton. Here is where you take your big, bruising back. Shelton is wildly underrated coming out of Louisville and a perfect compliment to Thomas Jones.

Third Round - No Pick. They should try to trade for a pick and take Bryant McFadden, an exciting defensive back out of Florida State. He might be gone by the third round, but there's a chance he could slip.

Fourth Round - Marion Barber. There are some terrific running backs in this draft, so I say take another one. Barber is another strong runner that reminds me a bit of Rudi Johnson.

Fifth Round - Adrian McPherson. When Chad Hutchinson is your backup QB, it can't hurt to take a signal caller. McPherson is a gamble because of his checkered past, but he'll probably be the most talented player taken on the second day.

Sixth Round - Jared Newberry. I've heard good things about the outside linebacker from Stanford. Chicago is pretty loaded on defense, but it doesn't hurt to grab a young guy that plays hard.

Seventh Round - Brandon Jones. Back to offense! This Oklahoma receiver is wildly underrated and I think he'd be a real nice addition to a group that will be headlined by Muhammad and Williams.


Kevin J. said...

Well, the Bears passed on Williams - along with nine other teams. Which was the stupidest team for passing on him, in your opinon? Did the Bears make up for it by taking hot prospect Mark Bradley in the second round?

Jeff Dritz said...

All the teams that passed on Williams made a huge mistake, but none more so than the Vikings. The league left them an easy chance to replace Moss with an attitude-less version of T.O., and they passed and instead took less-promising speedster Troy Williamson instead. While Williamson may develop into a star, Williams is good enough to be one right now (though he probably won't be one for the Lions, since they have one too many young potential stars at WR already). Williams is big, strong, faster than he gets credit for, and has great hands.

The Bears really need a receiver who can move the chains and catch TDs in the endzone, and Williams was that guy. Alas, they passed, and instead chose a bruiser, north-south running back. Benson will probably end up being a pretty good, if unspectacular back, but you can get strong runners in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, whereas Williams' talent is a rarity.

Agreeing with my buddy Adam, I would've been much happier with Williams and Eric Shelton than Benson and Bradley. Mark Bradley is fast and has potential, but he's still pretty raw, and had under 100 touches at Oklahoma. He was barely rated in the top 100 by some scouts, and seems to have been a reach at 39. I'm not convinced that he's any better than Bernard Berrian, Justin Gage, or Bobby Wade right now, though he looks to be in the future. Still, he'll be no Mike Williams, this I can guarantee. The Bears seem to have made this pick on potential, but they could use the help now.

As for the rest of the draft, I like where the Bears went in the second day. Kyle Orton was a Heisman candidate and potential 1st- or 2nd-rounder until he had struggles in a few games towards the middle of the season. He still has all the tools of an NFL QB and could become a starter, and solid insurance in case Grossman goes down or doesn't pan out in the next couple years. Airese Currie is a speedster who can make big plays, though it'll be tough for him to see much action at WR if he makes the team, behind Mushi, Berrian, Bradley, Wade, and Gage. The Bears finally looked at the safety position in the 6th, and think they got a steal with Chris Harris, a tough kid who seems to be a big-game player. Don't know much about linebacker Rodriques Wilson, their 7th-rounder, but he seems to have some trouble with the law due to some sort of school prank. He's probably a long-shot to make the team, though he looks to be converted to strong safety, a weak spot on the Bears' D, so he'll have a chance.

Overall, I'd rate the Bears' draft as a C. The solid picks made on the second day don't really make up for the questionable ones made on the first day. Once, I'd like to see the Bears take a potential offensive superstar. They had their chance here, and instead went with the safe pick. Ah, this is the life of the Bears fan. Here's to hoping Cedric Benson turns out better than Curtis Enis.