5-Things: Draft Thoughts

It wasn't a good weekend for the Bears, with only two former Baylor players hearing their name called in the 7-round NFL draft. We take a look at the landing spots of a few key Bears, and the upside of the 2016 draft for Baylor fans.

1. The 2015 NFL Draft is over, and quite honestly, it was a disappointing one for Baylor nation. After reports in the middle of the week that Bryce Petty could rise to as early as the end of the 1st round, the Baylor quarterback wasn't even selected before the weekend. As the 4th pick in the 4th round, Petty had a long 48 hours before he heard his name called. The New York Jets made an aggressive trade up to get Petty, and look to develop him behind Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Petty will have to beat out at least Matt Simms to make it as the 3rd QB, but it is doubtful that he will be able to show enough or do enough in the summer to move up farther than that.

Petty is going to an interesting situation. With a young QB and a wiley veteran journeyman in Fitzpatrick in front of him, Petty should be able to sit and learn for at least a season. Make no mistake, Petty needs that time to learn the NFL game. Many have pointed out Baylor's offensive style as a detriment to their signal callers. I think there is some truth to that, but not because it is simple or it is always out of the shot gun. I think the biggest draw back is the lack of needing to go to a 2nd, 3rd or 4th option very often. Simply put, the Bears offense usually produces a wide open guy as the 1st or 2nd read. In the NFL, a quarterback needs to go much farther past that 1st look, and sometimes all the way back around to that first guy. That is something that Petty does need experience in, instead of just throwing to wide open guys most of the time. Such hardships for a Baylor fan.

2. The second Bear chosen in the draft was the "other" Bryce for the Bears, Bryce Hager. The All-Big 12 linebacker was chosen in the 7th round by the St. Louis Rams. This is a fit that I really like for player and team. Hager has good speed and solid instincts and athleticism to be a 3rd down linebacker. He also profiles as a solid special teams contributor from day one. The Rams do not have a lot of depth at the linebacker position, and Hager was the lone linebacker drafted by the Rams. Jeff Fischer is a good defensive coach, and special teams has been a strength for the Rams. Getting an immediate shot at a special teams role and a backup to the defense would be a great first year for Hager.

3. The news was not all good for the Bears. Antwan Goodley was widely expected to be drafted this year, and I am honestly shocked he fell out of the draft. The All-Big 12 receiver has signed a free agent deal with the Dallas Cowboys though, and will get a shot to make an impact with former teammate Terrance Williams. With names such as Neal Sterling, Geremy Davis, Da'Ron Brown and Andre Debose being drafted ahead of him, it has to be a major disappointment to fall out of the draft. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, to be drafted into the NFL. Yes, there are advantages to being an undrafted free agent versus going in the 7th round. You get to choose your destination, and hopefully make a choice that can set you up increase your odds of making the team. I do think Goodley is an NFL player, one that profiles to help on special teams, and also could even pinch in at running back if he focuses on that position. The hope now for Goodley (and fellow undrafted signees like Levi who went to the Chicago Bears and Spencer Roth who is a Buffalo Bill) is to show enough in camp and pre-season to either make the team, or get selected to the practice squad of someone in the NFL.

4. Overall, it was a disappointing draft for the Bears, with Bryce Petty going later than expected, and Goodley not being drafted. In 2014, there were 5 Bears drafted, however none coming before the 5th round. Luckily, 2016 could be a big draft year for Baylor. Shawn Oakman and Spencer Drango have the chance to be first day guys as seniors. If Andrew Billings leaves in his first year of eligibility, he will be a high draft pick as well. Defensive End Jamal Palmer, offensive linemen Desmine Hilliard, Blake Muir and Jarrell Broxton also could hear their names called. Wide Receiver Jay Lee has the size that teams covet as well. There is a lot of talent returning to Waco from the back-to-back Big 12 champions. That is a great problem to have.

5. One thing that I do not question about Briles and his coaching staff is their development of the talent they bring to campus. They have taken too many 2 and 3-star recruits and made them NFL players here to go into right now. Bryce Hager was a 2-star rated recuit out of Austin-Westlake, the 192nd ranked outside linebacker according to Scout. He is an NFL player now. Antwan Goodley was the 119th ranked wide receiver and is now on an NFL roster. Even Bryce Petty was just the 35th ranked quarterback in the 2009 recruiting class, but even the disappointment of being the 5th quarterback taken still is an incredible job of scouting and development by Briles and Petty. That is a huge recruiting tool for the Bears, even if some people down in Austin don't agree.


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