The future of the Bears – the future of any NFL team, really – will turn ultimately on the abilities of GM Ryan Pace and his staff to draft players of impact. And while the full measure of a draft may take some time to become apparent, drafts are like fine wine: The quality of a vintage will become apparent while it’s still in barrels.
So it may be for the Bears’ 2015 draft, which has all five of its available members active and playing on Sundays. Some of the reasons for three of them starting may lie in injuries above them on the depth chart, but each has performed well enough to secure the job in competitions despite other options being available to coaches.
In the first of a series, CSNChicago.com looks at the top 2015 draft choices and their impact as the Bears regroup at the off week:
WR Kevin White (Rd. 1, 7th overall)
White is still rehabbing after surgery to fix a stress fracture. He was in the top-three rotation with Alshon Jeffery and Eddie Royal before the offseason injury. His return this season from the reserve/physically unable to perform designation is uncertain.
NT Eddie Goldman (Rd. 2, 39th overall)
During a defensive-line drill, Goldman had occasion to grab the shirt of coach Jay Rodgers, who recalled, “when he got his hands on me, he ripped my shirt from here to here. So he’s got those things that we like.”
The former Florida State All-American doesn’t see his job as all that complicated, which is probably the way a nose tackle should approach NFL life: “As long as you don't mind being physical and as long as you can dish out punishment, that's all there is to it,” he said.
But there is more to it, and Goldman has grasped that after some early struggles with conditioning prior to the season: “Just the little things like your hands, something as small as a single step, just being physical and being consistent.”
And therein lies perhaps the reason Goldman has established himself as the hoped-for anchoring force in the middle of the 3-4 scheme as envisioned by coach John Fox and coordinator Vic Fangio. Goldman has started three games, including one at end, and has 1.5 sacks despite being taken out routinely in nickel packages.
“He’s worked hard to get to that point, dropped a little weight from where he was in training camp, and I think he’s at a good spot where he can play,” said defensive line coach Jay Rodgers. “I like ‘athletes,’ athletic D-linemen is what I like, and he has athleticism.”
Goldman was credited with five tackles in the Detroit game, plus a half-sack in addition to pursuing Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford across the field.
“He’s really starting to increase his production,” Rodgers said. “Little by little. And his footwork is so much cleaner than it was in training camp. So he’s continued to grow at this [upward] pattern. And having more experience in understanding what we want from him has really helped him.
“And just getting used to the way we do things. Seeing blocks. Performing certain tasks. And so he’s just going to keep going up and up as long as he keeps to the grind.”
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