TSX: Bears Draft Overview

The Bears filled needs in the trenches, added depth at other positions and took a big-time flier in this year's draft. The Sports Xchange offers insights into all five of Chicago's 2011 draft picks.

--OT Gabe Carimi (1st Round/29th overall), a 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 (2nd Round/53rd overall) was selected when the Bears 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. He 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.

--S Chris Conte (3rd Round/93rd overall) 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.


QB Nathan Enderle
Joe Nicholson/US Presswire

--QB Nathan Enderle (5th Round/160th overall) 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.

--LB J.T. Thomas (6th Round/195th overall) 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.

"I played on every special teams (unit) at West Virginia University," he said. "When I was younger, I played a lot of different special teams. As I got older, I was a little more valuable to the team, so I didn't play as many, but I was always on the punt coverage team and punt block team."

The 6-1, 241-pounder could be coming into a favorable situation since the Bears have only two linebackers under contract, although that will change whenever free agency begins.

"He fits us perfectly," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "He can play all three (linebacker) positions. He played multiple roles at West Virginia. We spent a lot of time (evaluating) him. We saw him at an all-star game, and he got hurt during that practice week, but we feel very, very good about his fit. Picking up a linebacker was a goal (Saturday), and he was the right one."


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