By Brad Thompson–
CHICAGO (WSCR) With Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi still on the board when the Bears were on the clock with the 29th overall pick, it seemed like an enormous opportunity (literally) and a natural fit. A huge, tough Midwestern man joining a physical, no nonsense team in Chicago just seems right.
This was a brilliant pick for the Bears and, maybe even more importantly, it’s a pick that Bears fans can rally behind and enjoy. After last season, it was clear that the Bears’ biggest weakness was the offensive line. So it only makes sense for Chicago to spend their highest pick on an offensive lineman and that’s exactly what they did.
As much as players are poked, prodded and analyzed these days, it’s amazing that some first round picks are still busts. At this point there’s no way to tell whether Carimi will end up as a bust, but at least he’s a player that addresses their needs. Plus, it gives fans confidence that the front office and coaching staff are using logic and reason when drafting.
I’m not suggesting that teams should draft players that their fans like or think are the best fit. Coaches and management have more information available than even the most die-hard fans. Pleasing a fan base is not how you determine whom to draft, but this year it was painfully obvious that the Bears needed offensive line help. And contrary to popular opinion, as painful as it was for fans to watch the Bears’ porous offensive line, it was even worse for Jay Cutler.
The measurables and accomplishments of Carimi are impressive. He’s 6’7” and weighs 314 pounds. Not only was he the Big Ten’s Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2010, he also won the Outland Trophy. He’s intelligent, a 4-time Big Ten All-Academic member, and durable, he started 49 games for the Badgers.
What I like most about him is that he comes from a program that pounds the football, with a history of dominant offensive lines and has routinely produced solid pros. Think Joe Thomas. Badger offensive linemen have earned a reputation among NFL teams as being tough and smart. Carimi fits that mold.
As outstanding as his numbers and awards are, there’s no guarantee that Carimi will develop into a solid pro. With that said, he was a terrific pick for the Bears because everything suggests that he’ll be a star in the league. More importantly, he was the perfect pick for the Bears because it means that the coaches and front office are seeing the same problems as fans – and that’s comforting.
It was a tremendous start to the draft for Chicago; let’s see if the same logic and reason are used during the rest of the draft.
Do you agree with Brad? Post your comments below.
Brad M. Thompson, a former college football player and coach, made his return to the Midwest in 2009 after fighting wildfires out West. He earned his master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and covers the Big Ten Conference and Chicago sports. Follow him on Twitter at @Brad_M_Thompson. Find more of Brad’s blogs here.