By Greg Gabriel–
(CBS) All weekend long on 670 the Score, I described the Bears’ draft as “different.” The strength of this draft was defense, but with the exception of one pick, the Bears drafted offensive players, including three of whom were from schools at a lower level of competition. The key question is can they play?
After trading three extra picks to move up one spot to No. 2 overall in the first round to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Bears general manager Ryan Pace moved down in the second round to recoup some of the picks the team had just traded away. The Bears moved from No. 36 to No. 45 in the second round. By doing so, they gave away their chance to draft to top safeties. Between No. 36 and No. 42, three safeties were selected: Washington’s Budda Baker to the Cardinals, Florida’s Marcus Maye to the Jets and Utah’s Marcus Williams to the Saints. We will never know if the Bears would have selected any of those players, but I can say they were viable candidates.
When the Bears were on the clock, they took tight end Adam Shaheen from Division-II Ashland College in Ohio. When you evaluate players from that level, they have to dominate the level of competition. Shaheen easily dominated as both a receiver and a blocker.
Shaheen is as talented as any tight end in this draft, but he’s raw. He originally went to college to play basketball and then transferred to Ashland when he decided to switch to football. In the last two years at Ashland, Adam caught 127 passes for more than 1,600 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Shaheen has great size at 6-foot-6 1/2 and 276 pounds, and he runs well for a man that size, having clocked a 4.78-second mark in the 40-yard dash. He’s quick and agile with good overall body control. As a receiver, he can get open against both man and zone and because of his size, he’s open even when tightly covered. Shaheen has excellent hands and adjusts well to the ball in the air. After the catch, he’s explosive with good run instincts.
As a blocker, he’s willing but lacks technique. With his size and strength, Shaheen easily dominated, but he will need how to use his hands better and position himself better in order to be successful at the next level.
Shaheen should be able to play both in tight at the Y and flexed out in the NFL. As a rookie, he will probably be used more often flexed out until he develops his blocking technique.
In the fourth round, the Bears took Alabama safety Eddie Jackson, who began his college career by playing cornerback and started there in 2014. He then tore his ACL late in that season and missed the rest of the year. In 2015, Jackson was moved to free safety and had a breakout year, with 46 total tackles and six interceptions. This past season, he again played well at free safety until he suffered a leg fracture in the eighth game of the season.
What stands out about Jackson are his instincts and ball skills. He’s quick to react and has range to the sideline. On top of that, he was the leader of the Alabama secondary, making all the coverage adjustments and lining everyone up.
Had Jackson not suffered his second serious injury, he could very well could have been a second-round pick. Durability is certainly a concern, but getting a player like him in the fourth round could turn out to be a steal.
The Bears’ next selection was running back Tarik Cohen from North Carolina A&T. Like Shaheen, he dominated a lower level of competition. In the last two years, he has run for more than 2,800 yards.
Cohen will never be an every-down player. He’s a spot/change-of-pace back who can also be used as a slot receiver. Many have compared Cohen to Darren Sproles, that’s a good comparison. Both are short, thick and explosive.
Cohen stands only 5-foot-6 1/2 and weighs about 180 pounds. He also run the 40 in 4.42. For being short, he has long arms and huge hands (10 1/4 inches). Because of his length, he plays taller than he measures.
As a runner Cohen is quick, fast and elusive. He has excellent ability to make people miss both in tight and in space with his quick cutting ability and burst. Cohen gets to the hole quickly and is strong enough in the lower body to get yards after contact. As a receiver, he has good hands and can extend for the ball. After the catch, he’s quick to get up field with his speed and elusiveness. While he wasn’t used mush as a returner in college, I can see him being used to return kickoffs at the NFL level.
I can see Cohen getting 10 to 12 touches a game as a returner, receiver and runner. With his open-field running skills, he can be a treat any time the ball is in his hands.
The Bears’ final pick was offensive lineman Jordan Morgan from Kutztown State, a Division-II school in Pennsylvania. This will be the third Bears offensive lineman to come from this small Pennsylvania conference. James “Big Cat” Williams and Chris Villarrial played in the same league and were successful NFL linemen.
Morgan played left tackle at Kutztown and will move inside in the NFL. He’s about 6-foot-3, 310 pounds with strength, athleticism and long arms. The Bears coaching staff is familiar with him, having coached Senior Bowl this past January.
Don’t let the level of competition fool you, as Morgan showed at the Senior Bowl that he can compete with the players from the bigger schools. Being that the Bears are strong inside with Kyle Long and Josh Sitton, I expect Morgan to be a backup in the immediate future, but should one of the starters go down with an injury, Morgan should be able to step in and play.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.