The Bears started out intent on filling their most pressing needs, and did a great job of it with Wisconsin All-America offensive tackle Gabe Carimi in the first round and Oregon State's defensive tackle Stephen Paea in Round 2. But the third-round pick of safety Chris Conte was a reach at best, and a bit puzzling considering wide receiver and linebacker seemed to be greater needs.
Tackle Gabe Carimi: He might not ever be a Pro-Bowl left tackle, but the 29th overall pick immediately upgrades the Bears' weak offensive line at one of the tackle positions and should be a starter from Day One.
Safety Chris Conte: The third-round pick seemed to be a huge reach, considering a lot of draft evaluators had him rated much lower. But, considering the huge turnover the Bears have had at both safety positions since Lovie Smith took over (20 changes at each of the safety positions) you can't count Conte out.
A closer look at the Bears' picks:
Round 1/29 - Gabe Carimi, OT, 6-7, 314, Wisconsin
Four-year starter at left tackle for the Badgers had a total of 49 starts, and the Bears did not think he would be there at No. 29, which is why they made a bungled attempt to move up three spots. Tough, smart and hard-working. Might be better suited at right tackle rather than left tackle, but the consensus is that he could be in the starting lineup on opening day and has enough agility to contend for the left-tackle spot.
DT Stephen Paea
Round 2/53 - Stephen Paea, DT, 6-1, 303, Oregon State
The Bears believed their top defensive tackle prospects were about to start coming off the board, so they traded up nine spots, giving up their pick at No. 62 plus a fourth-rounder (127th overall) to move up. Paea did not play football until his final year of high school in Utah after emigrating from Tonga as a 16 year old. Was the Pac-10's defensive MVP last season. Fits more as a 3-technique tackle and is undersized for nose tackle, but the Bears believe he can handle the nose because of his superior strength.
Round 3/93 - Chris Conte, S, 6-2 1/2, 197, California
Played cornerback for three seasons, mostly as a backup, but switched to safety as a senior and became a full-time starter for the first time and was first-team All-Pac 10. Excellent height to match up with the biggest receivers but had only two career interceptions. Good speed (4.59 in the 40) but not great. Gets high marks for aggressiveness, tackling and run support but lacks some instincts and range as a free safety, where the Bears envision playing him.
Round 5/160 - Nathan Enderle, QB, 6-4, 240, Idaho
The Bears truly want to develop their own quarterbacks after last year's Todd Collins fiasco. Enderle is a four-year starter with a 17-29 won-loss record. Best season was as a junior, when he completed 61.5 percent of his passes with 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He had 22 touchdown passes last season but 16 interceptions with a weaker supporting cast. Played in a pro-style offense and is a student of the game and a hard worker.
Round 6/195 - J.T. Thomas, LB, 6-1, 241, West Virginia
Could contribute on special teams immediately and will need to if he makes the final roster. But Bears believe he can play all three linebacker positions, and they have only two linebackers under contract.
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