Here is the problem with the NFL Draft: it is televised. Because it is televised (and for me one of the most singularly boring events in the history of the medium) fans have taken to rampaging against their organization’s lower round selections as means of flaming the torches and marching up the castle to kill the beast. Very few people cheered when Jerry Angelo selected Johnny Knox in the fourth round a year ago because the selection of Knox inspired nothing more than mere interest in his reportedly alarming speed. What if the selection in 2011 of Idaho’s Nathan Enderle – a player targeted by the Vikings – turns out to provide the Bears with the next Kurt Warner? The truth is the later rounds are crap shoots for everybody. So I focus my attention on the players selected in the first two rounds – the rounds that should impact the football field in five months.
Gabe Carimi, the me-coined but him-credited Bear Jew of Lake Forest, and Stephen Paea, the Mad Tongan of Vava’u, have been drafted to add a needed dimension to the offensive and defensive lines (respectively) of the Chicago Bears: toughness. Read the hundreds of pages pre-draft analysis and you’ll see the same words associated with these two fellas: gritty, determined, mean streak, plays with anger. They are not just solid athletes that perfectly appease their high-profile position coaches (Tice, Marinelli) but they come with an attitude that was sorely missing in 2010.
The Bears made the decision to select these two men just three months after their quarterback faced an almost unprecedented firing squad of “toughness” questions from every so-called expert in the sporting universe. (Several years ago the Jets’ John Abraham did not return to a pivotal playoff game due to flu-like symptoms and faced no such inquiry. Fans of that team, including one that shares my mother and father, have never forgiven him.) The Bears, however, decided they were not tough enough in 2010. But not at the quarterback position. In the trenches. The Bears are tired of being pathetic on third-and-short on both sides of the ball. They are tired of seeing their quarterback lying on his back. They are tired of failing to pressure the opposing quarterback if Orange Julius does not make a special play.
The truth is this. The Bears have quality on the defensive line. They have no rage. They have some young talent on the offensive line, sure. But now they have guts. That is at least the hope of Jerry Angelo and the folks at Halas Hall.
On the the flipside, a list of the 2011 draft picks
and my prognostication for them this season.
Round One: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin
Barring unforeseen circumstances, I expect Carimi to start at right tackle as Mike Tice moves his prized pupil J’Marcus Webb to the left side.
Round Two: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
I think Paea can really play and will enter a tackle rotation alongside a re-signed Anthony Adams, Marcus Harrison…etc. Melton, Wootton and Idonije will be playing somewhere along that line as well.
Round Three: Chris Conte, FS, Cal
I don’t watch a lot of Pac-10 football but Mayock like this kid so I’ll go with that. The Bears do not have a true FS on the roster currently. I think Conte makes the team but is primarily a special teams contributor this coming year.
Round Five: Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho
Clipboard. This draft pick should confirm, however, that Caleb Hanie will not be challenged for the back-up quarterback position. That is a good thing.
Round Six: J.T. Thomas, LB, West Virginia
If J.T. makes the Chicago Bears in 2011, it’ll be with a Lovie redshirt on.