Ryan Pace’s first NFL Draft as a general manager is over and he’s added six new players to a Bears roster that desperately needs an infusion of youth and talent.
We’ll need at least three years before we really know how good these draft picks will be, but after speaking with Pace, we have an idea of what the expectations are for 2015. Here’s the best and worst case scenarios for all six players:
1st Round, No. 7: WR Kevin White, West Virginia (6-3, 215 pounds)
Best case: White has the ability to become an instant No. 1 wide receiver and a perennial Pro Bowler. There will likely be some growing pains as he adjusts from the West Virginia offense to the NFL, but he’s still an ascending player who can get a lot better than he already is. He should be starting Week 1 against the Packers.
Worst case: White could struggle to adjust to tighter coverage as he played in a lot of space at West Virginia. That could theoretically limit his playing time early and lead to frustration. We’ve seen Top 10 receivers bust out before, but White’s makeup makes this unlikely.
2nd Round, No. 7 (No. 39 overall): DT Eddie Goldman, Florida State (6-4, 336)
Best case: The Bears need a run-stuffing two-gapping nose tackle who can also shade and collapse the pocket from the inside on passing downs. The guess here is that that John Fox and Vic Fangio are hoping Goldman and Ego Ferguson can compete for the starting nose tackle spot, which would allow them to play Jeremiah Ratliff on the end. Goldman has the potential to win the starting job right away.
Worst case: Goldman had a tendency to disappear at times, which is likely why he fell to the second round. He needs to be a consistent force or he’ll be relegated to a backup.
3rd Round, No. 7 (No. 71): C Hroniss Grasu, Oregon (6-3, 297)
Best case: If Grasu is fully healthy, he could add the necessary weight/strength over the next few months and win the starting center job out of camp. He has the makeup to be the Bears starting center for many years to come.
Worst case: Grasu played lighter at Oregon because of the offense so he’ll have to bulk up and adjust to playing at that weight. Injuries have also been a small problem. If those two factors hold him back, he may not pan out.
4th Round, No. 7 (No. 106): RB Jeremy Langford, Michigan State (6-0, 208)
Best case: Langford fits well in a zone-blocking scheme and is smart and patient reading his blocks. With a strong work ethic, he could eventually become a No. 1 running back in a season or two. At the very least, he should see the field early because he’s a reliable blocker.
Worst case: Langford doesn’t always play up to his timed speed and he’s a little small. This may reduce him to a third-down back who ends up bouncing around the league.
5th Round, No. 6 (No. 142): FS Adrian Amos, Penn State (6-0, 218)
Best case: Amos should benefit from playing in Vic Fangio’s scheme. If he proves he can be solid in run support, he has the potential to be the Bears’ starting free safety by 2016 (or earlier if injuries dictate).
Worst case: Safeties don’t last if they tackle and support the run. This could result in a switch to cornerback, where he has some experience. And if that doesn’t work, his career could be short.
6th Round, No. 7 (No. 182): OT Tayo Fabuluje (6-6, 353)
Best case: Fabuluje is a large, powerful offensive lineman who has the ability to play in the NFL. A healthy NFL contract will help him support his family easier, allowing him to put the full effort needed into fulfilling his potential. That could lead to him eventually beating out Jordan Mills for the starting right tackle job.
Worst case: Weight management has been an issue for Fabuluje. We’re talking about a sixth round pick and many six round picks never play a down in the NFL. You can’t rule out him getting cut out of camp and ending up on the practice squad.
For most of these players, their careers will probably fall in-between these best and worst case scenarios. And the journey start next weekend when the Bears hold their rookie minicamp.
Adam Hoge covers the Chicago Bears for WGN Radio and WGNRadio.com. He also co-hosts The Beat, weekends on 720 WGN. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.