Which Draftees Make the Roster?

The Chicago Bears were universally applauded for their choices in the 2009 NFL Draft, but how much of an impact can each of these nine newbies make as rookies? They need to make the 53-man roster first, which is far from certain for so many of them. JC breaks down each selection's chances.

DT Jarron Gilbert

The Monsters of the Midway have had trouble generating pressure from the front four the past two seasons, so Gilbert's ability to play end on running downs and tackle on passing downs made him a no-brainer selection near the top of Round 3. Head coach Lovie Smith usually keeps nine D-linemen on the final roster, and with Israel Idonije making the switch back to end, Gilbert can be in the rotation right away at tackle. It's more productive to get him on the field than Matt Toeaina, who was inactive on game day more often than not last year.

53-Man Roster Probability: 100 percent

WR Juaquin Iglesias

Receiver was the No. 1 need for this team heading into selection weekend, and even though the Bears didn't make a pick until the third round, they feel they got a good one in Iglesias. The former Oklahoma Sooner was arguably the best player on the practice field during rookie minicamp, and he's started to get some reps with the second-team offense during OTAs. Wideout is possibly the toughest position to make the transition from college to the NFL, but Iglesias may be a better solution in the starting lineup than second-year pro Earl Bennett when it's all said and done.

53-Man Roster Probability: 95 percent

DE Henry Melton
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DE Henry Melton

The one-time running back generated a lot of buzz just before the draft with his Pro Day performance in Austin, especially since he wasn't even invited to showcase his skills at the Scouting Combine. But even though Melton has the look of a pass-rushing threat and the athleticism to match, he's considered a prospect at defensive end and probably won't see the field very much as a rookie. With Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye entrenched in the starting lineup, plus Idonije and Mark Anderson both expected to contribute off the bench, Melton might be destined for the practice squad.

53-Man Roster Probability: 35 percent

CB D.J. Moore

Expected to come off the board some time in Round 2, Chicago landed quite a deal with Moore still available in the latter stages of the fourth round. Yet another former Vanderbilt Commodore to be added to the mix, Moore isn't what this team looks for at the cornerback position – Smith and Co. usually like them bigger and stronger – but brings the kind of ball skills that have been lacking on this unit since Nathan Vasher stopped coming up with all those interceptions. Moore is a good bet to make the team in part because he can double as a return man, and his upside makes him more of a keeper than either Trumaine McBride or Marcus Hamilton.

53-Man Roster Probability: 85 percent

WR Johnny Knox

Some scouts questioned his level of competition, first playing junior college ball and then moving on to Abilene Christian, but Knox looked like the real deal during rookie minicamp and continues to raise eyebrows in OTAs. While veteran Rashied Davis is still listed as the "starter" in the slot in three-wide packages, Knox has elite speed and could deliver more explosive plays if he gets the ball in open space. However, it was Bennett who appeared to be one of the best receivers on the team already at this time last year, yet he barely made the roster coming out of training camp and didn't catch one pass in 2008.

53-Man Roster Probability: 90 percent

LB Marcus Freeman

With the addition of late free-agent signee Pisa Tinoisamoa, the Bears may have the deepest linebacking corps in the entire league. Freeman is a big fan of Lance Briggs and slated to work behind him at the weak-side linebacker position, but he's not even getting snaps with the second-team defense yet in OTAs – even undrafted rookie free agent Mike Rivera is seeing time with the twos in the middle. While Freeman is surely a better long-term prospect than Joey LaRocque, it could come down to which one of them is better on special teams.

53-Man Roster Probability: 55 percent

S Al Afalava
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S Al Afalava

Say all what you want about the pass rush being the biggest downfall of this defense in recent seasons, but injuries and ineffectiveness at both of the safety spots are simply impossible to ignore. With Mike Brown no longer patrolling center field, it's anybody's guess how the strong and free safety positions are going to shake out in Bourbonnais. Since Corey Graham is now being moved from corner to safety in an effort to have the best DBs on the field at the same time, Afalava might have to wait until 2010 before getting a chance to show what he can do on Sunday.

53-Man Roster Probability: 25 percent

G Lance Louis

General manager Jerry Angelo spoke in glowing terms about Louis on draft weekend, including the prospect of switching him back to his original position – he came to San Diego State as a tight end – because he is just a ridiculous athlete. But that talk ended in a hurry when Louis lined up exclusively at guard and tackle during rookie minicamp, and the Bears already have five capable tight ends on the roster anyway. Adding youth along the offensive line is never a bad idea, so look for Louis to replace practice-squad staple Tyler Reed.

53-Man Roster Probability: 5 percent

WR Derek Kinder

The former Pittsburgh Panther was in the conversation for the Biletnikoff Award as a junior in 2006, but a torn ACL the following year led to a medical redshirt and then a below-expectations performance as a senior in '08. After a slow start to the offseason program in which he wasn't catching the ball consistently enough, Kinder appears to have turned the corner during OTAs and is getting reps with the second unit. But even though the Bears are desperate for playmakers in the passing game, Kinder looks like he needs some more seasoning.

53-Man Roster Probability: 10 percent

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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.

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