By Adam Hoge –
I’m not sure I want to admit this, but not only did I record and breakdown the Senior Bowl, I actually watched all the practices on the NFL Network too.
And now that the NFL draft order is finalized for the first round, we know the Bears are slated to have the No. 29, No. 62 and No. 93 overall picks in the first three rounds. The later rounds will be finalized after compensatory picks are handed out by the NFL, but as of now, the Bears have all seven picks this year.
So after watching a ton of Senior Bowl coverage, I’ve found a few guys who would fit perfectly for the Bears. For now, let’s stick to the first three rounds since we know where those picks will be:
1st round, No. 29 overall: OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin (6-7, 327 lbs.)
For some reason most scouts have cooled on the 2010 Outland Trophy winner (nation’s top interior lineman). Most draft boards have him behind Colorado’s Nate Solder and Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo, but both Solder and Castonzo struggled mightily in the Senior Bowl. Carimi missed the game after suffering a minor ankle injury on the Thursday leading up to the game, but all week long he manhandled opposing defensive players. Some will wonder how Carimi would have fared in the game since Solder and Castonzo struggled, but he has regular season results to back up his draft stock. Carimi went head-to-head with Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan, Iowa’s Adrian Clayborn and Ohio State’s Cameron Heyward (all three defensive ends are projected first-round picks) and shut them all down. If that’s not enough, he also faced teammate J.J. Watt — another projected first-round pick — in practice everyday. As of now, it appears Solder and Castonzo will go first in the draft and Carimi would be a steal at No. 29.
2nd round, No. 62 overall: CB Kendric Burney, North Carolina (5-9, 190 lbs.)
Burney was a four-year starter at North Carolina and is a perfect cover-2 cornerback. He has good instincts and is a ball-hawk, which Lovie Smith will love. He had 11 interceptions in his college career, including five as a junior. His stock has fallen a little bit because of a lack of time on the field. Burney missed the first seven games as a senior after violating NCAA agent benefits and preferential treatment rules. He played in the final six games of the season, however, and racked up 30 tackles and two interceptions. He also looked great in Mobile, Ala. during Senior Bowl week and would be a solid late-second round pick.
3rd round, No. 93 overall: WR Vincent Brown, San Diego State (6-0, 195 lbs.)
As I watched Senior Bowl week unfold, I made an effort to discover a player I knew nothing about. No one stood out more than San Diego State wide receiver Vincent Brown. Brown made catch-after-catch and played way larger than his official height and weight indicated. In fact, I was shocked to learn he was only 6-feet tall and 195 lbs. The Bears need a guy who can go up and make a play. Unfortunately, all the proven 6-4 receivers are going to be gone by the time the Bears make their first round pick. Brown’s college stats are ridiculous. He caught 69 passes for 1,352 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, averaging 19.2 yards per catch. He’s a physical receiver, something the Bears lack, but he still has the home run ability. Seems like the kind of guy Jay Cutler needs.
It might be time for the Bears to look for a new center and if Wisconsin guard/center John Moffitt slips to the fourth round, he would be an absolute steal. Moffitt’s performance in the Senior Bowl went largely unnoticed for some reason, but as the tackles struggled, Moffitt made every single block he was asked to and was never beat while playing both guard and center. I think he can play guard on Sundays, but if a team wants to make him a center for the next 7-10 years, they won’t be disappointed.
All the sudden there is talk that Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett could slip to the second or even third round. I think that is crazy because the only quarterback that is better than Mallett is Stanford’s Andrew Luck, who decided to stay in school. Mallett is 6-6 and has a cannon to along with surprisingly swift feet. Scouts have some concerns about his off-the-field demeanor. We aren’t talking about legal problems, but more so his work ethic and effort to fix his mechanics. I’m not going to lie, he’s got a little Cutler in him as he makes some horrible decisions sometimes, but he’s young and has all the tools to be a star in the NFL. I doubt the Bears would draft a quarterback this high, but if Mallett really slipped to the end of the second round, he would be the best player left on the draft board and they would at least have to consider it.
Finally, don’t be surprised if the Bears go after another player from Abilene Christian. Edmond Gates is an extremely fast wide receiver who has some size at 6-2. He could go as early as the second round so he’s another option for the Bears.
For more on the NFL Draft and college football throughout the year, follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHoge670.