Help on the way
Bears may have surpassed expectations in draft with potential immediate contributors
CHICAGO -- Perhaps Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo tempered expectations a little too much going into the draft by saying the primary objective was to land players with the first three picks who "make it to Sunday."
Dressing for a game is one thing, making meaningful contributions is another.
Having followed a Super Bowl season in 2006 with a combined record of 23-25 over the past three years, Angelo and coach Lovie Smith stand on shaky ground and need more than players merely capable of making a 45-man active game-day roster.
They need immediate contributors. The good news is it appears they may have acquired a few.
"We pretty much stayed with the plan that I outlined to you," Angelo said. "We were able to do that with our third, fourth and fifth picks, and we felt good about that."
As they should, considering the fact the Bears were handicapped by not owning first- and second-round picks. With their first three selections -- safety Major Wright, defensive end Corey Wootton and cornerback Joshua Moore -- the Bears appear to have landed, respectively, a starter, a rotational player up front and a potential contributor in some of the club's substitution packages in the secondary.
The Bears closed out the draft by acquiring quarterback Dan LeFevour and offensive tackle J'Marcus Webb. LeFevour isn't likely to see any playing time as a rookie, but Webb -- despite his small-school pedigree and late selection -- could possibly kick inside to guard and challenge for a starting job, or develop into one of the line's top backups as a rookie. It's important to mention that Webb displayed enough potential at Texas in 2006 to see playing time in 12 games as a true freshman.
"We will just wait and see until we get to camp and get the pads on the kind of quality player he is," Angelo said.
Wright, meanwhile, appears to be the crown jewel of the Bears' 2010 draft class.
There's a good chance he'll win a starting job at safety. Wright started 33 of 41 career games at Florida, and comes to Chicago with a reputation for violent hits, leadership and playmaking ability.
Last season, the Bears used five different players at free safety. As a whole, the safety position combined to produce just one interception in 2009, which isn't good enough for a club looking to return to postseason contention. "Safety was one of the positions we targeted to improve our ballclub," Smith said. "He is going to bring a lot of energy to our defense, has good skills as far as coverage is concerned.
"You hate to talk about a rookie being one of the starters right away, but I think when you pick a player, and I look at our history a little bit he is our first draft pick this year and we are expecting big things from him. I think it is safe to say that."
Chicago didn't draft what you'd classify as a sexy class, but for the most part, it might be just good enough to make some meaningful contributions right away.
Wootton tallied 10 sacks as a junior at Northwestern before a blown knee in the final game that year wrecked his senior season. Moore, according to Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke, possesses man-coverage skills which are arguably more advanced than some of the corners already on the roster.
LeFevour, although he isn't likely to play as a rookie, accounted for more touchdowns (149) than anyone else in NCAA history.
"I'm ready to play, no doubt about that," Webb said minutes after the Bears took him in the seventh round. "I don't feel like there's anybody who could get in my way. I'm ready to play on the next level; any level."
If the Bears' picks can turn that confidence into production, the club will look back on this year's draft as a success.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.