John Crist: Give me your general opinion on the upcoming NFL Draft this April. Remember, Bears fans are more concerned with depth in the middle than talent at the top since the team doesn't have a pick before Round 3. What are some of the deepest positions? What positions look to be a little thin?
Chris Steuber: The underclassmen entering the draft make the 2010 class promising and fairly deep. There are some positions like quarterback and running back that are top-heavy, but they drop off considerably after the first five or six players.
The deepest positions in this year's draft are in the trenches (offensive and defensive line), at linebacker and in the secondary (cornerback and safety). There will be quality at those positions through the fourth round, which is good for the Bears because they could use help in all three of those areas.
JC: Let's revisit Chicago's draft class from a year ago. If I told you last April the Bears were going to get zero impact from their third rounders (Jarron Gilbert, Juaquin Iglesias) and fourth rounders (Henry Melton, D.J. Moore), would you have believed me? Additionally, what if I would have told you fifth rounder Johnny Knox and sixth rounder Al Afalava would both be major contributors?
CS: I wasn't particularly high on Gilbert or Melton in last year's draft, and while I thought Moore had a chance to be a playmaker, I was really surprised that Iglesias wasn't a contributor as a rookie. But the impact that Knox had on offense and Afalava had on defense made an underwhelming Bears draft into an intriguing one.
I didn't think Knox would emerge the way he did this year. I don't think anyone thought Knox would be a major contributor this year – the same with Afalava. Knox and Afalava were good players in college, but they had their flaws and that's why they were mid- to late-round picks. They played this year with chips on their shoulders, and they wanted to show the other 31 teams that passed them up four or five times that they can play at this level. And, fortunately for the Bears, they did a good job scouting these two guys, and they fit their system very well.
JC: General manager Jerry Angelo is taking a lot of heat for giving away his second-round pick at the trading deadline for Gaines Adams. I know the former Clemson Tiger was the fourth-overall selection just two years ago, but he did nothing after the trade. Will that decision haunt Angelo?
CS: It's too early to tell. Adams is a very talented player who played well in Tampa Bay during his first two years in the league (12.5 sacks), but when you're the fourth-overall pick, a lot is expected of you. The Buccaneers were disappointed with his ability to defend against the run, and they thought he was going to be more explosive off the edge. He did a good job as a pass rusher in Tampa, but he has to use his hands much better. In this third year, he struggled with injuries and only played in five games. And last year, being traded halfway through the year and trying to fit into a new system is tough mentally. Even though the Tampa 2 and Cover 2 defenses are similar, it's still a transition to fit in with new teammates.
I expect Adams to have a bounce-back year, and if everyone is back healthy for the Bears, he could have a double-digit-sack season. Again, it's too early to say that this move will haunt Angelo, but I'm sure Bears fans will be interested in who the Bucs select with that second-round pick.
JC: Chicago needs to improve its offensive line drastically. Josh Beekman disappointed as a guard, but if Olin Kreutz doesn't return, go back to your files on Beekman and refresh our memory of what you thought of him as a possible center candidate. Frank Omiyale wasn't much better at guard, and since that position tends to get drafted later, can the Bears find an immediate starter in Round 3 or 4?
CS: At Boston College, Beekman was a three-year starter at right guard and he was outstanding. He didn't give up a sack during his career with the Eagles and was considered to be a promising lineman at the next level. He showed that he could play center during the draft process, which raised his value, and at just 6-1, the center position seemed to be a perfect fit for him. He hasn't lived up to expectations at guard thus far, and maybe a move to center will bring out the best in him – you're dealing with the unknown.
But if Kreutz departs during the offseason and they slide Beekman over to center, there will be some interesting guards available for the Bears in the fourth round: Ole Miss' John Jerry, Texas Tech's Brandon Carter, Clemson's Thomas Austin and Arkansas' Mitch Petrus. Of the four, I believe Jerry and Carter could start from Day 1 if needed.
JC: The Bears have a lot of young safeties on the roster (Afalava, Kevin Payne, Craig Steltz) but all of them are more in-the-box types than center fielders. The Cover 2 simply doesn't succeed without a top-notch free safety. Are there some prospects in Round 3 or 4 that can cover the last line of defense?
CS: After Eric Berry (Tennessee), Taylor Mays (USC) and Earl Thomas (Texas) – players that will be drafted in the first round – names like Nate Allen (South Florida), T.J. Ward (Oregon), Morgan Burnett (Georgia Tech) and Kam Chancellor (Virginia Tech) will likely come off the board in the second round.
But there's a chance that Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey will fall into the third round. At 5-11 and 205 pounds, Stuckey is also considered an in-the-box safety, but he plays well in zone coverage and possesses great awareness and instincts. He played more in the box this year than he did as a junior, when he recorded five interceptions. He's a tremendous open-field tackler and has led Kansas in tackles the last two years. He has great ability and would be a steal for the Bears in the third round.
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Scout.com Q&A: Chris Steuber
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