In Jerry Angelo’s last draft as Bears general manager, he had a chance to make the Bears a significantly better team. This was the draft right after the Bears lost to Green Bay in the NFC Championship game, and many thought they were just a solid offensive line away from contending once more. I would say that, in the end, this draft played a big role in Angelo’s eventual firing. The 2009 and 2010 draft classes most likely didn’t help his cause, either.
Once again, no GM will ever have a perfect draft. For example, the Patriots took Ras-I Dowling in round 2 of the 2011 draft. Dowling was released just two seasons later and is now on the Jets’ practice squad.
Looking back on it, I was a fan of a few of these picks initially. I was dead wrong.
1 (29). Muhammad Wilkerson, DE/DT, Temple
Actual Pick: Gabe Carimi, T, Wisconsin
—I remember watching this draft, and I remember at one point realizing that Gabe Carimi was falling. There were a lot of questions surrounding his health, but Carimi had way too much talent to fall to pick #29. As we all now know, I was wrong and so was Jerry Angelo (this is becoming a recurring theme). Carimi had a decent start to his career, but he hurt his knee and was never the same player. Meanwhile, Muhammad Wilkerson is easily one of the best defensive linemen in football. He’s a nasty player with a lot of skill. This past season, he recorded 10.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles for the Jets. The Bears recently signed Lamarr Houston, and I’d say Wilkerson is a similar player in that he can play almost any position on the line and still be a force.
2 (53). Jurrell Casey, DT, USC
Actual Pick: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
—Prior to the 2011 draft, I was definitely on the Stephen Paea bandwagon. He was a very good player at Oregon State, and at the combine, he showed off his incredible strength. Paea has been hampered by toe injuries, and so he now has a lot to prove this year in the final season of his rookie contract. Paea is a solid professional, but he needs to be more than that. Jurrell Casey had a lot of questions prior to the draft. Casey only measured in at 6’1 at the combine, but he has shut up every disclaimer so far in his career in Tennessee. In four seasons, Casey has 16 sacks and 4 forced fumbles.
3 (93). Richard Sherman, CB, Stanford
Actual Pick: Chris Conte, S, California
—To even have to write this one is disturbing. Richard Sherman wasn’t selected until round 5, so it’s not like Angelo was the only general manager not thinking during this process. Chris Conte had a solid 2012 season, but his 2013 was one of the worst that I have ever witnessed from a safety. Conte recently had shoulder surgery and isn’t a lock to even be on the final 53-man roster come September. On the flipside of things, Sherman is probably the best cornerback in the NFL and was a big reason why the Seahawks are the Super Bowl champions. Seattle recently locked up star FS Earl Thomas to a long extension, and many believe that Sherman is next.
5 (160). Brandon Fusco, G, Slippery Rock
Actual Pick: Nathan Enderle, QB, Idaho
—Nathan Enderle was supposed to be a developmental quarterback for Mike Martz, but after just one season with the Bears, Enderle was waived. He eventually went on to sign with a few more professional teams, then a CFL team, and now plays for an AFL team. Brandon Fusco was drafted as a center, but he is now one of the better guards in football. Sooner or later, Fusco will get a new contract from the Vikings.
6 (195). Bruce Miller, FB, Central Florida
Actual Pick: J.T. Thomas, LB, West Virginia
—J.T. Thomas wasn’t a bad selection. He gave the Bears a lot of good minutes and never gave anything less than his all. However, the Bears did hope he would have been more than a special teams standout. Thomas never was, and he ended up leaving Chicago for Jacksonville. Bruce Miller is a decent blocker for the 49ers and can catch as well. He would fit in nicely in Marc Trestman’s offense.
–Brian Ociepka (@bjociepka1 on twitter)
Tomorrow, the four-day re-draft series concludes with the 2012 re-draft.