Expectations are high for the Chicago Bears rookie draft class. How much will they contribute in 2014?
Kyle Fuller – CB – 1st Round
Stat line: 68 tackles, 3 INTs, 2 FF
Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are taking 1st round pick Kyle Fuller to school in training camp. It might not be enjoyable for him now, but that experience will become truly valuable during the season. If he can hold his own against two Pro Bowlers, he will have a good first year. Three interceptions is a fair number given how often quarterbacks will attack him and his prowess against the run will inflate his tackle total too.
Ego Ferguson – DT – 2nd Round
Stat line: 25 tackles, 1 sack
The thing to remember about nose tackles is their stats don’t typically tell the full story. Posting 25 tackles and one sacks will seem low for Ego Ferguson, but it will ultimately depend on how he handles his primary job, which will be holding the point of attack and stopping the run. That is what he does best and what the Chicago Bears need him for.
Will Sutton – DT – 3rd Round
Stat line: 20 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 FF
Conversely, the stats will tell a very clear story for 3rd round pick Will Sutton. Unlike Ferguson, the Arizona State product is an interior pass rusher. His job is to get into the backfield and make plays. Expectations are high for him, even in a reserve role. Three sacks and a forced fumble isn’t a bad start.
Ka’Deem Carey – RB – 4th Round
Stat line: 650 total yards, 5 touchdowns
Matt Forte is the main man for the Chicago Bears at running back but the race is hot for who will back him up with veteran Michael Bush gone. Among the favorites to land the job is rookie Ka’Deem Carey. His success at Arizona is well-documented and his balanced skill set as a receiver and pass protector will appeal to the coaches. Not only will he win the job, he will earn significant playing time and prove quite adept near the goal line.
Brock Vereen – FS – 4th Round
Stat line: 70 tackles, 2 INTs, 1 sack
However, the real roster battle everyone will be watching is at safety. Chris Conte is hopeful he can retain his starting job, but he is getting a major scare from rookie Brock Vereen. The Minnesota kid has taken every snap in training camp with the 1st team defense while Conte has worked to rehab his surgically repaired shoulder. So far there is nothing to report on his progress, good or bad. If he does end up landing the job, there will be some growing pains but at certain points his athleticism and intelligence will show up as evidenced by two interceptions and a sack.
Pat O’Donnell – P – 6th Round
Stat line: 46 yards per punt avg., 22 downed inside 20
“MEGA-PUNT!” The new fan favorite in training camp, punter Pat O’Donnell was a surprise on draft day. Thus far he’s living up to his billing with a large 6’4″ frame and booming leg strength. He still has work to do to earn the job, competing with veteran Tress Way but if he makes the team his assets should show up quickly. By season’s end he should average out to a respectable 46 yards per punt.