Revewing Past Bears Drafts Series; 2012

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  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Reviewing the Bears' drafts: 2012
    April, 17, 2014
    Apr 17
    8:00
    AM ET
    By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

    Here's Part 4 of our series reviewing the past five drafts of the Chicago Bears.

    For the first time since 2002, the Bears had a new set of eyes overseeing the draft process. The Bears fired longtime general manager Jerry Angelo at the end of the 2011 regular season and replaced him with respected scout and college talent evaluator Phil Emery.

    First-round pick: Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State

    Number of picks: 6

    How they did: Three members of the 2012 draft class had important roles for the Bears last season: McClellin, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (second round) and nickel back Isaiah Frey (sixth round). Safety Brandon Hardin, selected in the third round out of Oregon State, spent his rookie year on injured reserve and suffered another injury in the final preseason game last summer that again landed him on IR. The Bears quietly released Hardin several weeks later. Fourth-round pick tight end Evan Rodriguez contributed to the offense in 2012 but was released the next offseason after multiple brushes with the law. Greg McCoy, a cornerback/return man out of TCU whom the Bears took in the seventh round, failed to make the club out of training camp in his first season.

    Pivotal pick: The Bears were in need of fresh legs at defensive end to complement Julius Peppers, who at that time still played at a Pro Bowl level, and veteran Israel Idonije. Emery bypassed what some considered safer pass rushing options at No. 19 overall (Chandler Jones and Whitney Mercilus) and selected McClellin, who impressed the Bears with his combination of speed and athleticism. Two years later, McClellin is projected to compete for a starting job at strong side linebacker in 2014. McClellin was certainly disruptive at times rushing the passer from the edge, but the name of the game at defensive end is sacks. McClellin had only a combined 6.5 sacks in two years, with three of the quarterback takedowns occurring in his memorable effort against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 4 when McClellin knocked Aaron Rodgers out of the game with a fractured collarbone. McClellin went on to win NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.

    Best pick: Jeffery, by a mile. Undeterred by the rampant questions surrounding Jeffery's weight and attitude in his final year at South Carolina, the Bears moved up in the second round to snatch the former All-American wide receiver. Jeffery rewarded the Bears' faith by being named to the Pro Bowl in just his second season after catching 89 passes for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-3 wideout holds the top two spots in franchise history for receiving yards in a game with 218 yards against the New Orleans Saints on Oct. 6, and 249 yards against the Minnesota Vikings on Dec. 1.

    Worst pick: Hardin. A former and often injured collegiate cornerback, Hardin failed to make the transition to safety. Although Hardin had impressive size (6-foot-3, 217 pounds), he didn't seem to bend his hips much and appeared to play too high. Even if he stayed healthy, it would have been difficult to make an argument for the Bears to keep Hardin on the 53-man roster based on pure performance and football skills alone. The Bears are still searching for help at safety, in part, because the Hardin pick failed to pan out.
  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Uncle Phil's first draft. Hopefully the faith he's shown in McClellin will finally pay off this year. The kid has all kinds of talent and good football instincts but like Grizz, you have to wonder if that aborted effort to make a DE out of him hasn't set him back significantly and it will take time for him to make the transition to SLB. I still think he's always gonna be best if they keep moving him around to create confusion. Use him as more of a weapon than a core player.

    Jeffery is by far the best pick in that draft and maybe as good as any from that draft period. As much as the McClellin gamble hasn't paid off so far the gamble on Jeffery has produced huge dividends for the offense. He's a tough cover in his own right but his presence makes it impossible to constantly double Marshall which makes him more effective. They were named the best WR duo in the NFL last year and it was Jeffery's progress that made that happen.

    Hardin was a gamble that should never have been and hopefully that will be a lesson learned. ERod, who said people should view him like Aaron Hernadez turned out to be correct. All he lacked was the murder charges. Frey is a tenacious kid. Not all that good but not all that bad either. I see him as a high level backup.

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