Well after about 48 hours of diegesting the Bears 2009 NFL Draft I have come to a simple conclusion. I don’t care right now who they drafted and where and I won’t care until I see these players do something on the football field. I can read all the draft grades and evaluations in the world, it’s not much different than reading a lot of the pre-draft hype. What matters a lot though will be how these players look on the football field during the pre-season games. It’s then we’ll get the best idea of what each one of these players is REALLY capable of.
For now it’s all still names heights weights and 40-yard dash times on a piece of paper mixed in with college stats. We know that the players drafted were the best players in college football, but we also know that doesn’t mean it translates them into being the best in the NFL. For all the hype and excitement of Jarron Gilbert jumping out of a swimming pool onto the deck from the shallow end, it doesn’t mean he’ll be able to go toe to toe with Steve Hutchinson on Sundays.
For all the speed and athleticism and potential we have heard about regarding Henry Melton, it doesn’t mean he’ll have the NFL work ethic to become a contributor to this defense. For all great catches Juaqin Igelsias made at Oklahoma, it doesn’t mean he’ll be able to get separation and get open against NFL level DBs.
What this all means right now is that these are the players the Bears felt were the best available at the time. Right or wrong the Bears are stuck with these players for a while and hope for the best coming out this draft.
I can also say without question that of these draft picks on this roster not one of them will be a starter on the field against the Green Bay Packers on opening night. Juaqin Iglesias has the most potential to be an opening night starter given the lack of overall depth at the WR position, but given the giant learning curve receivers go through during the transition from college to the NFL I can say almost certainly he won’t be a starter.
The hope from my vantage point is that these players will play their best football during the pre-season. That is typically where most young players begin to stand out and show what they have in terms of NFL ability and promise. If given opportunities during the regular season I want to see them make the most of those chances much like Marcus Harrison did for the Bears last year. The hope lies with Gilbert, Iglesias and Melton that in three years they will be players that are likely to start or will already be starting.
For the rookies now it’s developing good work habits, study habits and knowing that their job is primarily to learn. There is enough talent ahead of them, that they should be able to apply themselves and develop well enough to become successful players in this league. I hope that they know that they do not carry the weight of the world on them, the expectations for them for right now are extremely low. There is no pressure to contribute on day one, the pressure is to just show that you belong on the 53-man roster.
Learn from the veterans ahead of you who have been around for more than four years. Listen, to they have to give you in the way of advice and no that you are not expected to be a starter on day one. If they do happen to become a starter on day one, that’s pure gravy. But their presence represents the future of the Chicago Bears franchise, and does not represent a chance to win the Lombardi trophy.