NFL teams hope for impact contributions from the top of their rookie classes each year. One of the reasons Jerry Angelo is no longer general manager was a decided lack of impact or even modest contributions by too many individuals selected in Angelo drafts first three rounds.
Those hopes for the first draft class of GM Phil Emery are still on hold.
The Bears kept the top four of their six draft choices. Presuming Shea McClellin is forced to miss next Monday in San Francisco because of a concussion suffered against Houston, all four will have missed games with injuries, a combined 17 so far, including the nine by one on IR.
No. 1 Shea McClellin
No. 1 pick McClellin was gone with the concussion in the first series of the Houston game. Like Jay Cutler, his return is only a guess at this point.
Shea McClellin also is getting better, which you would like to happen, said coach Lovie Smith. Alshon Jeffery, hes been out for a while, hes getting better. So cant wait to get on the practice field and see exactly where we are.
No. 2 Alshon Jeffery
The second blow came in Jacksonville with wide receiver Alshon Jeffery breaking his hand and missing the last four games after playing his way into the starting lineup.
Whether Jeffery is fit to return for the San Francisco game on Monday is problematic but he was No. 2 in receptions at the time of the injury and still is behind only Brandon Marshall in touchdown catches (two). Only Marshall and tight end Kellen Davis have caught touchdown passes since Jefferys injury.
No. 3 Brandon Hardin
The group had a setback in preseason when No. 3 pick Brandon Hardin suffered a neck injury that cost him this season. But the cornerback-turned-safetys main work projected to be on special teams this season, depending upon the play of Chris Conte and Major Wright, which has been a significant positive through the years first half.
No. 4 Evan Rodriguez
Evan Rodriguez, selected in the fourth round as a pass-catching tight end out of Temple but turned into a blocking fullback to start the season, suddenly looms as a spot of much-needed hope for a struggling offense.
Rodriguez, the first of the rookies to crack the starting lineup, missed games with a knee injury and didnt play in the next two. He was back for Tennessee but is yet to catch a pass, although his role as a receiver is expected to increase in the wake of poor production from Davis and Matt Spaeth against Houston.
Davis will say it wasnt his best game, Smith said. Its as simple as that. Hell come back this week.