Draft Dissection: Rashard vs. Matt

While nobody can fault the Chicago Bears for taking offensive tackle Chris Williams at No. 14 overall in last month's NFL Draft, many fans were calling for local tailback product Rashard Mendenhall instead. So why did Jerry Angelo pass on Mendenhall? The answer may surprise you.

At least one key member of the Bears coaching staff had rookie tailback Matt Forte ranked higher than former Illinois running back and Niles West High School graduate Rashard Mendenhall.

A league source told Scout.com that when Forte went through his drills at a private workout for Chicago and showed his football intelligence during a film session, at least one influential member of the coaching staff was set on adding him to the roster over Mendenhall.


RB Matt Forte
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

So even though Mendenhall was available to the Bears when they made their first pick at No. 14 overall, they opted to select offensive tackle Chris Williams instead. That allowed the Steelers to snag Mendenhall at No. 23. General manager Jerry Angelo and Co. patiently waited until the 13th pick in the second round and still got the ball-carrier they wanted.

Forte's a calm, focused young man who takes this game very seriously. He runs strong inside the tackles, has the agility to get around the end, and is a reliable receiver. And with an unstable quarterback situation in Chicago, Forte's willing and skillful blocking should help the Bears complete a few more passes to their receivers and tight ends.

Don't be surprised to see him win the starter's job during training camp, or by the midpoint of the season at worst.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the Scout.com network and at FOXSports.com. You can contact him by email through this link.


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