Bjoern Werner DE Florida State #95
Size/Athleticism: Shorter than the prototypical 4-3 end. Lacks the length that most elite pass-rushers possess.
Run Defense: Very smart run defender who shows the ability to quickly diagnose the play and shows impressive anticipation skills. Takes good angles in pursuit. Very patient. Doesn’t over-pursue and stays in his area in the zone until the offense commits to a direction. Struggles to shed blocks at times, but he holds his ground at the point of attack. He possesses impressive strength, and is tough to move off his spot. Does a nice job fighting through traffic to track down the ball carrier.
Pass Rush: Has experience lining up with his hand on the ground and at linebacker. Shows great awareness, keeping his eyes in the backfield and making adjustments mid-play. Not a threat to consistently get to the quarterback. He lacks the explosive athleticism to be an elite speed rusher, and lacks the strength to consistently bull rush his way into the backfield. Despite his somewhat limited skill set as a pass-rusher, he has a relentless motor and he finds ways to impact his fair share of plays throughout the game.
Versatility: Lined up at defensive end on most plays, but does have experience with his hand off the ground. Occasionally dropped into coverage. Can play end in the 4-3 or linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.
Intangibles: Intelligent on and off field. Grew up in Germany and moved to Connecticut as an exchange student in high school. Played only two years of high school football. A quiet lead-by-example type. Married.
Durability: Played through a minor left hand injury in 2012.
Comments: There’s very little about Werner’s game that immediately excites you, but he is simply a model of consistency. Basically, what you see is what you get with Werner, and that’s a good thing. Don’t expect him to be the type of guy that alters the play on every down, or racks up 10+ sacks year after year. But he’s also not going to be a player that hurts you. He makes smart decisions, is always in the right place and can be a leader on and off the field. While his ceiling may be relatively low, his bust factor is even lower.
Jonathan Cooper OG North Carolina #64
Size/Athleticism: Rare athleticism for an interior lineman. Moves more like a left tackle than a guard. If he were two inches taller, he’d be considered a tackle and could probably play right tackle in a pinch. Has the skills to play either center or guard.
Pass Protection: Impressive awareness. Gets out of his stance quickly. Keeps his head on a swivel when not immediately engaged. Athleticism will be a real asset against elite interior pass-rushers at the next level. Not dominant against the bull rush, but holds his own. Does a nice job staying low to anchor against the bull rush. Impressive upper body strength (35 bench reps at combine) helps him to fight off more physical linemen. Will need help holding off larger nose tackles at the next level.
Run Blocking: Mobility is his biggest asset in run blocking. Does a great job getting to his assignment when pulling. Gets to the second level with ease and can pick up blocks on the move. Stronger and more physical than he gets credit for, but he will lose some battles against stronger nose tackles. He occasionally got tossed to the ground when he lost his balance against bigger defensive tackles.
Intangibles: Four-year starter with 47 career starts. High school wrestler.
Durability: Missed time with an ankle injury in 2009. Underwent shoulder surgery during 2012 offseason.
Comments: Cooper will be considered an elite prospect by teams running a zone blocking scheme. His athleticism and mobility make him perfect for the system, especially for those teams who also have a mobile quarterback and are running some form of the read-option. For this reason, Cooper will be the top rated interior lineman on many boards, even though Chance Warmack is the consensus top overall prospect.
Chance Warmack OG Alabama #65
Size/Athleticism: Impressive size and strength, but a little on the sloppy side in terms of how he carries his weight. He will need to keep his weight under control, because he’s limited in his athleticism already.
Pass Protection: Quicker defenders can get past him. He’ll get a good punch in a guy slipping past, but he will allow some more athletic interior linemen to get into the backfield. Does a really nice job staying low and using leverage against bull rushers. Very few bull rushers are able to walk him back into the backfield. Considering his strength, it’s surprisingly how rarely he finishes off his blocks. Doesn’t take a lot of guys down to the ground. Delivers a strong pop to pass rushers, which can knock some smaller defenders off balance enough to take then out of the play.
Run Blocking: Dominant run blocker in short-yardage situations. When the defensive lineman is lined up over top of him, he can drive them back and take them out of the play. Very limited in his lateral movement. Not real quick. Often slow to get to his assignment at the second level or when pulling. Technique gets sloppy at times when he’s on the move and struggles to get into an ideal blocking position. Lunges too often and tends to get grabby.
Intangibles: Scouts have questioned his intelligence. Conditioning might be an issue, he gets sloppy late in some games and on extended drives.
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: The only thing standing between Warmack and greatness is himself. If he stays in shape and avoids getting sloppy and lazy on the field, he will be a dominant interior lineman in the NFL. That said, rarely do players improve their work ethic and intensity once they start picking up paychecks. Warmack is definitely a first round talent and should be a quality starter, but I would be concerned about spending a top-10 pick on a player that doesn’t always play like he wants to be great.
Menelik Watson OT Florida State #71
Size/Athleticism: Elite athleticism for his size. Can easily pick up blocks down the field. Limited experience at left tackle, but definitely has the athleticism needed to play the position. Average height, but decent overall size and strength.
Pass Protection: Athleticism allows him to mirror more athletic pass-rushers. Really physical player with very active hands. Gets the job done more based on his raw talent than his fundamentals. His footwork is sloppy and hand placement is inconsistent. He wins a lot of battles simply by having a size/athleticism combination that defensive linemen can’t match up with. Shows decent awareness in pass protection. Keeps his head up and picks up delayed blitzes. Isn’t always quick off the snap in pass protection. He has the athleticism to recover most of the time, but it will hurt him against speed rushers in the NFL.
Run Blocking: Quick off the snap and drives defenders backward. Does a nice job staying low and using leverage. Occasionally used to pull and easily gets down field. Can get to the second level and pick up blocks on the move. Sometimes struggles to see the field and recognize where he needs pick up a block when he’s on the move. Gets lost at times when there isn’t immediately a man in his area to block. Very physical; fights through the whistle and finishes off his blocks. Rare to see a lineman with the athleticism to be a finesse blocker play with such intensity.
Intangibles: Grew up in England playing basketball and soccer. Only has two years of experience playing football. Also has some experience as a boxer.
Durability: No known issues.
Comments: Watson is a fascinating prospect with tons of upside due to his limited experience. He played right tackle at Florida State but clearly has the athleticism to move to the right side. A lot of guys with his athleticism who are new to the sport tend to be more finesse players, but Watson has a nice blend. He’s definitely a project, but could potentially start immediately on the right side and grow into a franchise left tackle role.
1. Offensive Line
If the Chicago Bears could pull it off, they would love to tear down the offensive line and start over in 2013. Even 2011 first-round pick Gabe Carimi’s job is in jeopardy, as he may be moved inside to guard in the near future. They have to come away with at least one starting lineman in free agency and another within the first three rounds of the draft.
2. Tight End
The Bears have some of the best blocking tight ends in the league in Kellen Davis and Matt Spaeth, but with Mike Martz long gone it’s time to find another pass catcher. Tyler Eifert would be a great addition in the first round.
The Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs era is nearly over, and no one on the current roster is ready to fill their shoes. Both could be back in 2013, but youth and depth are definitely needed.