njc41980: How big is the talent drop-off in the free safety class this year? How big is the difference between a first rounder like Nate Allen to a second rounder like Morgan Burnett to a third rounder like Major Wright to a later pick like Robert Johnson? Also, who is the best FREE safety that the Bears should be looking at? Who has the best coverage skills and would fit best in the Bears' system?
Chris Steuber: I will continue to say that this draft class is very deep and it's closely graded overall, and the free safety position is no different. Outside of Eric Berry and Earl Thomas, who are by far the top players at the position, the rest of the talent is comparable.
You mentioned Allen, Burnett, Wright and Johnson. They all have similar qualities, size and attributes. They had successful collegiate careers and were considered ball hawks at the safety position. But there's a reason why safeties are safeties and not cornerbacks. Coverage is always an issue with safeties and, again, outside of Berry and Thomas, the coverage skills of the safeties in this year's draft are not exceptional.
Personally, there's no real difference between Allen, Burnett and Wright. It will be a matter of preference. But with regard to Johnson, who has skills and recorded some impressive numbers for Utah during his career, he's a major liability in coverage and will give up a big play, as he gambles for the interception.
The free safety that the Bears should target in this year's draft, and it's not by design since he's from Vanderbilt, is Myron Lewis. At 6-2 and 203 pounds, Lewis is an exceptional athlete who played cornerback in college, but he has the size and athleticism to transition to free safety. He had a great workout at the Scouting Combine and impressed scouts, as he ran a 4.42 in the 40, benched 225 pounds 10 times and exploded for a 37-inch vertical and a 10-6 broad jump. Lewis could be an option for the Bears in the fourth round.
DaKnuckles: If the Bears go offensive line in the third or fourth round, with the goal being to fill the left guard position, who is the best available? And, does going for a guy who's versatile versus a pure left guard have any advantages or disadvantages in that player getting up to speed?
CS: It's always a bonus when you can get a player who has versatility, especially if a team already has a lot of guys on the offensive line that can play multiple positions, which the Bears do. It wouldn't be a bad idea for the Bears to address the offensive line in the third round. There will be talent on the board, and a player I feel fits their scheme very well is Utah's Zane Beadles.
A four-year starter, Beadles has been a durable, reliable performer who offers versatility to a team at the next level. He started his career at left guard and was moved to left tackle prior to his sophomore year. While he can play right tackle in the NFL, he's best suited to play guard. Teams love his versatility and attitude, and in the third round Beadles would be a steal.
DCBearman: Once you get past Nate Allen and Morgan Burnett in the second round, the draft write-ups seem to indicate that there are few true free safeties, especially those that could step in quickly as a starter – a need for the Bears. Are cornerbacks like Chris Cook and Myron Lewis better prospects at free safety than some of the strong safeties listed as potential free safeties, like Major Wright, Reshad Jones, Chad Jones and Darrell Stuckey?
CS: The depth in the secondary this year is uncanny and, yes, I think there are cornerback prospects that will be converted into free safeties because of their size and athleticism. As I stated, I think Lewis is a tremendous option for the Bears in the fourth round because he has the length and coverage skills that fit their scheme perfectly. Cook is also a solid alternative, but he will likely be selected in the late-second round.
Of the strong safeties that will be available to the Bears in the third or fourth round, Stuckey is probably the most likely to move to free safety. At Kansas, Stuckey played all over but was best in the box because of his physical nature. But he's an outstanding athlete and has tremendous ball skills. He gives a team flexibility in the secondary, and while he's a hard hitter, he can also bring some finesse to the field.
sanbear: Assuming that the Bears can straighten out their offensive line issues by getting a guard or another tackle, is there a running back they should be considering in the sixth or seventh round that can provide some speed and improve their off-tackle running game?
CS: There are two guys that I think can help out the Bears' running game now and in the future and will likely be mid- to late-round choices: Deji Karim of Southern Illinois and Lonyae Miller of Fresno State.
Karim and Miller have battled injuries during their careers, but they are both explosive and impressed scouts with their running and receiving abilities during workouts this offseason.
Wavy77: What do you think about today's new wave of draft "experts"? There seems to be new draftniks popping up every year. Are there a lot of copycats, or do they all sit down for months to watch game tape making their own rankings? Who are your own favorite draft experts?
CS: The NFL Draft is extremely popular, and it doesn't surprise me at all that more and more sites dedicated to the spring spectacle emerge out of the blue. It's a great event, and I think it deserves the amount of coverage it receives. Personally, I don't keep up with all of the sites or the new-wave draftniks that pop up annually.
It's tough to pinpoint if the sites out there are copycats or if they actually do the grunt work and watch film. I was once one of those grassroots guys who worked my way up from nothing to where I am now by watching film and doing the dirty work. I still have the same approach today. I truly believe a strong work ethic and understanding your craft is more beneficial than hitting up a competitor's site and stealing his material. I hope that the new draftniks actually watch what they're writing and don't rely on the more accomplished guys to file their mock drafts, rankings and reports.
I get that question a lot: "Who are some of your favorite draft experts?" Obviously, my favorite is me because I believe in what I do and how I've done it for the last nine and a half years. As a draft expert, you take a lot of heat, and I feel that it takes a unique, confident individual to do what we do because we have to study the college game, we have to know the NFL teams and their needs and defend the work that we publish. There's a lot that goes into it.
However, the guy that I have the most respect for is ESPN's Mel Kiper. If it weren't for Kiper, I don't know if there would be draft experts today. It's possible that someone else would have come up with the idea, but I look at Kiper as a pioneer and the guy who started it all.
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Subscriber Q&A: Chris Steuber
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