The Bears fired Lovie Smith after the 2012 season after years of disappointing offensive performances, replacing him with Marc Trestman, a well-regarded offensive mind, who had previously been a quarterback guru, a Super Bowl winning offensive coordinator, and a successful Head Coach in Canada. It clearly made a significant impact on their offense as they moved the chains at a 75.68% rate, 4th best in the NFL. However, their once dominant defense struggled, allowing opponents to move the chains at a 76.92% rate, 2nd worst in the NFL. As a result, they missed the playoffs once again and die-hard fans probably didn’t even recognize the team.
Lovie Smith was a fantastic defensive mind whose biggest issue was that he kept putting incompetent people in charge of his offense. I worry that, as good as Marc Trestman is at coaching offense, he might just be the reserve, a fantastic offensive mind who sticks with incompetent defensive coordinator. Mel Tucker is in way over his head coordinating this defense (his track record is poor prior to Chicago as well), but Marc Trestman brought him back on board. Mel Tucker is a significant downgrade from Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli.
Let’s discuss the good Trestman did first, which is on the offensive side of the ball. Jay Cutler set a career high in QB rating, completing 63.1% of his passes for an average of 7.38 YPA, 19 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, a QB rating of 89.2, significantly better than his career average of 84.6. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked quarterback. He was even better before suffering an ankle injury week 7, completing 65.9% of his passes for an average of 7.51 YPA, 12 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.
Even when Cutler missed time with injury, missing 5 full games and parts of 2 others, the Bears still moved the ball with ease. The Bears moved the chains at a 73.91% rate in the first 6 games of the season with a healthy Cutler. They actually moved the chains at a higher rate in the 6 games that Cutler that either missed all or most of. With Josh McCown at quarterback, they moved the chains 78.57% rate. In their other 4 games, in which Cutler was limited, they moved the chains at a 73.33%.
Josh McCown actually outplayed Cutler, though on fewer snaps (643 snaps for Cutler to 427 for McCown). He was Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked quarterback, ahead of Cutler, with no one playing fewer snaps and grading out higher at his position. He completed 66.5% of his passes for an average of 8.17 YPA, 13 touchdowns, and 1 interception last season. He’s gone now though so either Jimmy Clausen, Jordan Palmer, or David Fales will be the backup if Cutler goes down again.
Clausen was out of the league last season and hasn’t attempted a pass since he was a 2nd round rookie in 2010, when he completed 52.5% of his passes for an average of 5.21 YPA, 3 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions, a pathetic 58.4 rating. Jordan Palmer has 15 career attempts since being drafted in the 6th round in 2007. David Fales is a 6th round rookie. Trestman is a great quarterbacks coach and he worked his magic with McCown last year, but most likely, the Bears will be in trouble if Cutler has to miss any time.
That’s a concern because Cutler has missed a combined 13 games in the last 4 season and hasn’t played a full 16 game season since 2009. Even if Cutler plays all 16 games, the Bears could be in trouble if they “only” move the chains at the 74% or so rate that they moved them in the 6 games Cutler was fully healthy last season. That’s still really good, but they’ll need the defense to improve significantly to compensate if that happens if they have any hope of making the playoffs.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Part of the reason why Jay Cutler was able to have a career year last year (and why McCown flashed in limited action) was the tutelage of Marc Trestman, but also the Bears have significantly improved their offensive supporting cast over the past 2 off-seasons. They brought in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery before the 2012 season, trading for the former and drafting the latter in the 2nd round. Now they’re arguably the best wide receiver duo in the NFL.
Brandon Marshall made an immediate impact in 2012, as he has everywhere he’s played. Marshall has had some issues with teammates and off-the-field, but on-the-field, he’s been as steady as they come, with 7 straight 1000 yard seasons in which he’s missed a combined 4 games. As a result, he’s already 55th all-time in receiving yards with 9050. Among active receivers 30 or younger, only Calvin Johnson has more and, if Marshall keeps this up, he has an outside shot at the Hall of Fame.
He hasn’t always been dominant, grading outside of the top-10 on Pro Football Focus in 4 of 7 seasons as a starter, and he’s had issues with drops, dropping 91 passes in 7 seasons. However, he’s been dominant since coming to Chicago (grading out in the top-8 in both seasons); He’s averaged 2.32 yards per route run over the past 7 seasons and he’s caught enough passes to make up for the drops. Last season, he was actually Pro Football Focus’ #1 ranked wide receiver by a large margin.
That was mostly because of his absurd run blocking grade and that’s obviously not his primary job, but he was still Pro Football Focus’ 5th ranked pass catching receiver and the fact that he can dominate on the outside on running downs is a nice added bonus. He’s been Pro Football Focus’ #1 ranked wide receiver in run blocking grade 3 times in 7 seasons. The 6-4 222 physical specimen has no issue pushing around smaller defensive backs. He was Pro Football Focus’ #8 ranked wide receiver in 2012 (9th in pass catching grade, 7th in run blocking grade) and he should have another dominant season going into his age 30 season in 2014.
While Marshall had an immediate impact, Alshon Jeffery didn’t have an impact until his 2nd season in Chicago. The 2012 2nd round pick graded out below average on 445 snaps as a rookie, but was dominant on 973 snaps last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked wide receiver. He caught 89 passes for 140 targets (63.6%) for 1421 yards on 601 routes run, an average of 2.36 yards per route run. He isn’t as proven as Marshall and he didn’t draw as much coverage as Marshall did last season, but he was more productive than him in the passing game last season. Like Marshall, he’s a big bodied receiver at 6-3 216 and can push smaller defensive backs around, grading out above average in the run blocking game. Going into his 3rd year in the league, Jeffery could easily be just as, if not more productive next season. Having Jeffery and Marshall to throw to makes life easier for the Bears’ quarterbacks.
The Bears also have Martellus Bennett in the mix, signed to a 4-year, 20.4 million after the 2012 season. Bennett proved to be worth it in his first season with the team in 2013, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 19th ranked tight end and providing another big receiving target at 6-6 265. The 2008 2nd round pick spent the first 4 seasons of his career in Dallas as a backup and blocking specialist behind Jason Witten. He was dominant in that role, grading out above average as a run blocker in all 4 seasons, including grading 11th, 5th, and 4th as a run blocker in 2009, 2010, 2011 respectively. He only caught 85 passes for 846 yards and 4 touchdowns in 4 seasons, but he only ran 678 routes (1.25 yards per route run) behind Bennett and on only 144 of those routes did he line up off the line.
He was signed by the Giants before the 2012 season to be a starter. He continued to be a good blocker, but he also impressed as a pass catcher in a full-time role (945 snaps), grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked tight end, grading out above average as a pass catcher, a pass blocker, and a run blocker. He wasn’t quite as good last season, grading out 19th, but he still graded out above average as a pass catcher and run blocker. He’s averaged 1.47 yards per route run on 943 routes run over the past 2 seasons, though he’s played 552 of them off the line, 58.5%. He’s an above average, well rounded tight end who has played at least 900+ snaps in back-to-back seasons and I expect more of the same from him in 2014.
The Bears really don’t have much depth in the receiving corps at either wide receiver or tight end, so it’ll be hard for them to find a competent 11th offensive player to be on the field with Cutler, Marshall, Jeffery, Bennett, Forte, and the offensive line. Things would be especially bad if they had players miss time with injury. The Bears will probably use 3-wide receiver sets a lot this season, more often they use two-tight end sets or two-back sets. Earl Bennett, their 3rd receiver last year, played 545 snaps, while their #2 tight end played 186 snaps and the fullback played 239 snaps.
Bennett is gone and the Bears will be replacing him with Marquess Wilson, who the organization is reportedly very high on. The Bears won’t miss Bennett, who graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 96th ranked wide receiver out of 111 eligible last season in pure pass catching grade. Wilson might not be much of an upgrade though because he’s a 2013 7th round pick who struggled on 76 snaps last season as a rookie. The Bears like that he fits with their tall pass catcher theme at 6-4 184, but he’s yet to prove he’s anything more than just tall. Dante Rosario returns as the #2 tight end. He struggled as a pass catcher, but did well as a run blocker last season in a small role. He should do the same this season. Meanwhile, Tony Fiammetta returns as the starting fullback, after grading out below average last season.
The Bears have also significantly improved the offensive line recently, adding 4 new starters last off-season. Kyle Long and Jordan Mills were added to the right side through the draft, while Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson were added to the left side in free agency. Their starting 5 offensive linemen missed a combined 48 snaps last season, fewest in the NFL by an offensive line. That continuity was very important, though it’s unlikely to happen again this season as injuries will strike.
Matt Slauson was easily their best addition to the offensive line last off-season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked guard. That was the first year he had done anything like that, but he also graded out above average in each of his first 3 seasons as a starter in the league from 2010-2012 with the Jets. The Bears got a steal signing him on a one-year deal prior to last season and they’re getting a steal again bringing him back on a 4-year, 12.8 million dollar deal this off-season. He hasn’t missed a start in the last 4 seasons and he should have another strong season in 2014.
Their other veteran addition, Jermon Bushrod, didn’t work out as well. He was overpaid on a 5-year, 36 million dollar deal last off-season, after Drew Brees made him look better than he was protecting his blindside in New Orleans from 2009-2012. Bushrod made 68 starts over those 4 seasons, including the post-season, and allowed just 20 sacks, including 11 in his final 3 seasons, but he also allowed 205 combined hits and hurries. Drew Brees has such a quick release, which is why the sack total was so low. Including last season, Bushrod has graded out below average in 4 of his 5 seasons as a starter. That above average season was a 2011 season in which he graded out 14th at his position, but he was also as bad as 69th out of 78 eligible in 2010. Last season, he was 55th out of 76 eligible and, going into his age 30 season, I don’t expect much different from the middling talent this season.
On the right side, Kyle Long played every snap at right guard as a first round rookie. He graded out slightly below average, but he could easily be better, possibly a lot better, in his 2nd year in the league. Jordan Mills, meanwhile, you can’t say the same about. He was awful as a rookie, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd worst ranked offensive tackle, including worst ranked in pass protection. He allowed a combined 75 hits and hurries last season, easily the most in the NFL at any position. He could be better in his 2nd year in the league, but, at the same time, he was just a 5th round pick so it shouldn’t surprise anyone if he never develops into even a decent starter. It’s possible the only reason they kept him as a starter was for continuity reasons.
The only holdover from the 2012 offensive line for Chicago was center Roberto Garza, who also played every snap last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 12th ranked center. There’s no guarantee he’ll be nearly that good again in 2014, especially as he heads into his age 35 season, especially when you consider his history. Formerly a solid guard in his prime, Garza struggled at center in 2010-2012, especially struggling in 2011, when he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 2nd worst ranked center. It’s an improved offensive line over the Lovie Smith era, but there are still issues.
Another part of their strong offense last season was running back Matt Forte, a mainstay on this offense since they drafted him in the 2nd round in 2008. He’s graded out above average in 3 of the last 4 seasons and last season he was the definition of a three-down back, leading the position in snaps played with 940, 50 snaps more than any other running back in the NFL. It’s rare to find a running back who is well-rounded enough to stay on the field for every passing down and, as I mentioned earlier, he was a big part of their passing game last season.
He was Pro Football Focus’ 24th ranked running back in terms of run grade last season, rushing for 1339 yards and 9 touchdowns, 4.63 YPC. However, he was even better as a pass catcher, grading out 6th at his position in that aspect. He caught 74 passes on 86 targets (86.0%) for 594 yards and 3 touchdowns on 433 routes run (1.37 yards per route run). If he doesn’t get injured or decline, he should have another strong season, but there’s a good chance he does get injured or decline. He’s going into his age 29 season with 1892 career touches in 6 seasons so it’s starting to become a concern.
Especially concerning is that the Bears have no real depth behind him. They have a less than stellar trio competing for the backup job. Ka’Deem Carey, a 4th round rookie, is probably the most promising of the bunch, but he’s still a rookie. Michael Ford was a 2013 undrafted rookie that didn’t play a snap offensively last season, focusing on special teams. Shaun Draughn is the only one with any offensive experience in the NFL, but he’s rushed for 235 yards and 2 touchdowns on 63 carries (3.73 YPC) since going undrafted in 2011.
The Bears don’t really have much depth at all on offense, especially after losing Josh McCown. They’re depth at quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, and the offensive line is all really thin. This wasn’t a concern last season as they barely had any injuries on offense. The only player to miss significant time was Jay Cutler and they were actually better without him in the lineup. They had the fewest offensive adjusted games lost last season, something they probably won’t have the fortune of having again this season.
The Bears’ offense was slightly worse than Cutler was in the lineup last year anyway, but if they have members of their supporting cast miss time as well, they’re going to be a noticeably inferior offense to last season. And if Cutler misses time, they’re in serious trouble. They should still be an above average offense, but they’ll need the defense to be a lot better if they’re going to compete for a playoff spot in the loaded NFC and the tough NFC North.
The defense could be better, as they overhauled the defensive end position. Julius Peppers, Corey Wootton, and Shea McClellin led the position in snaps played. Peppers and Wootton are gone, while McClellin has been converted to linebacker. The Bears freed up a lot of cap space by cutting Julius Peppers this off-season and they used a significant portion of that cap space to sign free agent LaMarr Houston to a 5-year, 35 million dollar deal.
The aging Peppers (going into his age 34 season) graded out below average last season, while Houston is still in the prime of his career (going into his age 27 season) and coming off of a season in which he was Pro Football Focus’ 13th ranked 4-3 defensive end. That’s nothing new for him as the 2010 2nd round pick was 11th at his position in 2012 and 20th at his position in 2011. He’ll be an upgrade over Peppers for both the short-term and the long-term.
On the other side, the Bears will start another free agent acquisition, Jared Allen. Allen, like Peppers, is an aging pass rusher, going into his age 32 season. He’s also declining. He graded out below average on Pro Football Focus last season (35th out of 52 eligible 4-3 defensive ends), after grading out positive in every season from 2007-2012 (ranking in the top-10 4 times and maxing out at 4th in 2007), and he’s probably not getting any better any time soon.
Sure, he had 13 sacks last season, but you can’t rely on pure on sack numbers. He had 18 quarterback hits and 34 quarterback hurries, but he did that on 677 pass rush snaps. His pass rush productivity (sacks + .75 hits + .75 hurries divided by pass rush snaps played) was 36th out of 52 eligible 4-3 defensive ends last season. As he ages, he won’t be able to play nearly every snap as he usually does and his sack numbers will go down significantly. He’ll also probably become less efficient.
LaMarr Houston will move inside on passing downs next season, like he did in Oakland, and like Corey Wootton did for the Bears last season. Willie Young, another free agent acquisition, will be the nickel rusher opposite Allen. Willie Young, a 2010 7th round pick, was a valuable reserve from 2010-2012, playing 618 snaps total. His best season as a reserve was 2011. He only played 259 snaps, but if he were eligible for Pro Football Focus’ rankings, he would have ranked 13th among 4-3 defensive ends despite his very limited playing time. No one played fewer snaps and graded out as highly as he did.
He wasn’t nearly as good in 2012, as he actually graded out below average, but he got a chance to start in 2013 and made the most of it, playing 801 snaps and grading out as Pro Football Focus 15th ranked 4-3 defensive ends. He’s still somewhat of a one year wonder, given that he was only a one-year starter, but he showed enough as a reserve that I’m fairly confident he can continue being a solid contributor in a significant role. The trio of Young, Allen, and Houston should be much better than the trio of Peppers, Wootton, and McClellin, who graded out 40th, 45th, and 50th respectively out of 52 eligible 4-3 defensive ends on Pro Football Focus, a huge part of the reason why the Bears’ defense was so bad last season.
The Bears still have issues at defensive tackle. While the Bears had little to no injuries on offense last season, they still ranked middle of the pack in terms of adjusted games lost at 14th, which means they did have some significant injuries on defense. Arguably the biggest injury was to Henry Melton, who was Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked defensive tackle in 2012. He went down with a torn ACL week 3 after 125 snaps and the Bears’ defensive tackle play in his absence was horrible. Seven players played at least 10 snaps at the position and none graded out above average (even Melton struggled to start the season before he got hurt). Some of the worst offenders were Landon Cohen (348 snaps), 63rd out of 69 eligible (no one played fewer snaps and graded out worse), and Stephen Paea (480 snaps), 52nd out of 69 eligible.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Melton signed with the Cowboys this off-season and they didn’t add anyone proven at the position, so their defensive tackle play should still be very poor. LaMarr Houston will move inside in sub packages and rush the passer and he’ll help their edge run defense on base downs, but the Bears should still be very easy to run down the middle on. Stephen Paea led the position in snaps played last season with 480 and returns as the starter, as the 2011 2nd round pick goes into his 4th year in the league and his contract year. As I mentioned earlier, he really struggled last season and he doesn’t really have an impressive history. Last year was the worst year of his career, but he’s graded out below average in all 3 seasons he’s been in the league.
Jay Ratliff will be the other starter. Ratliff was on the streets mid-season in 2013, after the Cowboys let the injury riddled defensive tackle go, and landed with the Bears towards the tail end of the season, playing 210 snaps in 5 games and struggling. Ratliff was Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked defensive tackle as recently as 2011, but he has played a combined 11 games over the past 2 seasons, struggling when on the field, and now he’s going into his age 33 season. He’s a very poor starter. The Bears will have 2nd and 3rd round rookies Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton rotate in heavily. It’s still a position of major weakness unless a rookie steps up big time.
Another player the Bears had suffer a significant injury last season was Lance Briggs, who missed 7 games and played just 565 snaps last season. That was a huge loss because Briggs was Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker in 2012. He’s also graded out above average in 6 of the last 7 seasons, including last season. However, it’s fair to wonder if Briggs will ever be the same going into his age 34 season in 2014, coming off of a significant injury. He showed signs of decline in the 7 games before the injury and overall graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 17th ranked 4-3 outside linebacker out of 35 eligible. Losing Lovie Smith probably also hurt him.
The Bears will need him to have a good year, because the rest of their linebacking corps is a mess. Jon Bostic and DJ Williams will compete for the starting middle linebacker job. Bostic is the favorite after the 2013 2nd round pick took over the starting job from struggling veteran Williams during week 7 of last season, but Bostic was horrible, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 51st ranked middle linebacker out of 55 eligible on 614 snaps. No one at his position played fewer snaps and graded out worse. Bostic showed a disturbing lack of physicality against the run.
Williams is not necessarily any better though. The veteran struggled on 217 snaps last season as essentially a pure base package player, losing his starting job after 6 starts (Bostic then took over and became an every down player when Briggs went down with injury). He’s played a combined 348 snaps over the past 2 seasons and the last time he was a starter was in 2011, when he graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 33rd ranked 4-3 outside linebacker out of 45 eligible. Now going into his age 32 season, he’s unlikely to get any better and he should be pretty close to the end of the line. He’s certainly not capable of being the every down middle linebacker the Bears need inside.
The wild card in the linebacking corps is Shea McClellin, a 2012 1st round pick. McClellin has been awful in his first two years in the league at defensive end, grading out below average on 368 snaps as a rookie, and then grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 50th ranked 4-3 defensive end out of 52 eligible last season as a starter. The 6-3 260 pounder has shown a serious inability to get off of blocks in the running game, grading out as easily Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked run stopping 4-3 defensive end last season, in addition to an inability to get to the quarterback from the trenches. McClellin played some linebacker in college and, after proving to be too unphysical to handle defensive end, the Bears are moving him to outside linebacker in a pure base package role in an attempt to salvage the career of a player who looks like a bust. He’ll see rare, if any, snaps on the defensive line, even in sub packages.
Another player who missed significant time with injury on defense was Charles Tillman, who played 438 snaps in 8 games before going down for the season. He was Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked cornerback in 2012, so that really hurt them. Tillman could be healthier this season, but he’s also going into his age 33 season and struggled mightily last season before going down with injuries, so, like Lance Briggs, there’s a very good chance he doesn’t return to form. Losing Lovie Smith seemed to especially hurt Tillman, but age was also obviously a factor.
Tillman and Briggs are two of the four age 30+ starters the Bears have on defense. Jared Allen is the third and the Bears’ other starting cornerback, Tim Jennings, is the 4th. Jennings was Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked cornerback in 2012 and their 15th ranked cornerback in both 2011 and 2010, so he had a down year last season, grading out just about average. Compared to the rest of this defense, he wasn’t bad. In fact, you could argue he was their best defensive player last season, as he and Briggs were the only two players to play more than 10 snaps on defense and grade out above average. Jennings could bounce back this year, but he’s going into his age 31 season and probably also misses Lovie Smith, so there are no guarantees.
With two aging starting cornerbacks, the Bears drafted Kyle Fuller 14th overall in this past May’s draft. Fuller will work as the nickel cornerback as a rookie and could provide a boost to this secondary, even though cornerbacks tend to take a year or so to adjust to the NFL. Fuller could also play some safety this season, as the 6-0 190 pounder is physical. The reason they need him to play some safety is because what they have at the safety position right now is horrible. The Bears got rid of Major Wright, addition by subtraction as he was Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked safety last season, but the cast of characters they have competing for the two starting safety jobs going into 2014 still isn’t very good.
Chris Conte is an incumbent, starting next to Wright last season, but he was Pro Football Focus’ 82nd ranked safety out of 86 eligible last season so his starting job isn’t safe, even if the competition isn’t great. The 2011 3rd round pick has graded out below average in all 3 seasons he’s been in the league. Ryan Mundy is another option, who the Bears signed from the Giants this off-season. He graded out about average on 667 snaps last season, but the 2008 6th round pick played a combined 787 snaps from 2009-2012 and graded out above average just once in those 4 seasons. He might be their best safety, but that’s not saying much.
MD Jennings was signed from the Packers this off-season. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 70th ranked safety out of 86 eligible last season, though the 2011 undrafted free agent was better on 593 snaps in 2012. The Bears also signed Adrian Wilson from the Patriots, but he’s going into his age 35 season. He was Pro Football Focus’ 2nd ranked safety in 2011, but he struggled as a starter in 2012, and missed all of last season with injury in New England. Most likely, he’s done. The Bears also have 4th round rookie Brock Vereen, but if the Bears are turning to a mid-round rookie at safety (which they easily could at some point this season), they’re in trouble. There are still a lot of issues on this once great defense.
The Bears went 8-8 last season, but they were worse than their record. They had a -33 point differential, which suggested they should have won about 7.3 games. They were 18th in rate of moving the chains differential at -1.24%. They had some injuries last season, but the majority of them were to guys who are aging and might not bounce back (Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs), to guys who are gone (Henry Melton), or to guys who the team played better without last season (Jay Cutler).
Josh McCown, who played very well in relief of Cutler last season, is gone, leaving them with minimal depth at quarterback behind a consistently injury prone Jay Cutler. They also have minimal depth all over the offense so if they have more offensive injuries than they did last season (when no starter other than Cutler missed a game), it’s going to be a problem. They’re unlikely to be as good as they were last season offensively, when they moved the chains at a 75.68% rate, 4th in the NFL. They were in the high 73% range last season with a healthy Cutler and they could easily be down into the 72% range this season if they have more injuries. They’ll be an above average offense, but they’re way closer to the 8-12 range than the top-5.
Meanwhile, defensively, it’s unclear if they’ll be much better. The guys who are returning from injuries are 2 of 4 declining age 30+ starters. They did overhaul the defensive end position this off-season, but they have major issues at defensive tackle, linebacker, and safety still. They’ll need significant contributions from their rookie class if they’re going to significantly improve a defense that ranked 31st, allowing opponents to move the chains at a 76.92% rate.
I actually have this as one of the least talented teams in the NFL. In a tough division with Detroit and Green Bay both looking poised to be improved this season in terms of win total, the Bears are going to have a hard time being an average team and even getting to .500. This lack of talent stems from their issues drafting in the tail end of the Jerry Angelo era (2001-2012). No first round pick from before 2013 figures to make much of a positive impact this season.
They didn’t have first round picks in 2009 and 2010 and drafted busts in 2008, 2011, and 2012, taking Chris Williams, Gabe Carimi, and Shea McClellin respectively. They didn’t draft well enough after the first round to make up for it. Outside of Alshon Jeffery in the 2nd round in 2012 and Matt Forte in the 2nd round in 2008, their picks outside of the first round from 2008-2012 included the likes of Brandon Hardin (3rd round in 2012), Stephen Paea (2nd round in 2011), Chris Conte (3rd round in 2011), Major Wright (3rd round in 2010), Corey Wootton (4th round in 2010), Jarron Gilbert (3rd round in 2009), Juaquin Iglesias (3rd round in 2009), Earl Bennett (3rd round in 2008), and Marcus Harrison (3rd round in 2008). Henry Melton (4th round in 2009) was a strong pick, but he’s gone. This team has a lot of problems. I’ll have an official win prediction for them after I do every team’s preview.
Prediction: 6-10 3rd in NFC North