A new chapter in Chicago Bears’ history begins when first-year general manager Ryan Pace oversees the club’s 2015 NFL draft, which starts on Thursday. For every general manager, the draft is the most important building block towards becoming a perennial playoff contender. Organizations that hit on the bulk of their draft picks tend to sustain success. Franchises with poor draft records often cycle through front office members and coaches at a rapid rate.
Here is the first in a series of three recaps of how the Bears fared under former general manager Phil Emery.
Total picks: 6
Left on the roster: 2
First round: Shea McClellin, DE, Boise State -- 40 games played (20 starts), 120 tackles, 7.5 sacks, one fumble recovery. Emery’s first-ever pick, McClellin looked out of place at defensive end before switching to linebacker last year. With the exception of a terrific game against Green Bay in 2013 (three sacks), McClellin hasn’t made many impact plays and is often a liability vs. the run. There is a certain level of optimism that McClellin finds a role to suit his talents in the new 3-4 defense, but if not, the end is near.
Second round: Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina -- 42 games played (36 starts), 198 receptions for 2,921 yards and 20 touchdowns. Bears traded up in the second round to grab Jeffery, who posted consecutive 1,000 receiving yard seasons in 2013-14. Best year came in ’13: 89 catches, 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns. Great pick. Entering the final year of his original rookie contract.
Third round: Brandon Hardin, S, Oregon State -- Never played a regular-season game. Placed on injured reserve rookie year. Hardin’s issues were all on-the-field. Failed to make the transition from college to NFL. Battled injuries at Oregon State and Chicago. Emery later assumed full responsibility for the botched pick.
Fourth round: Evan Rodriguez, TE, Temple -- 12 games (five starts), four receptions for 21 yards. Rodriguez showed promise his first year, but a series of off-the field incidents forced the Bears to release him. Rodriguez also had character issues in college. Another rotten draft choice.
Sixth round: Isaiah Frey, CB, Nevada -- 19 games (seven starts), 59 tackles and two forced fumbles. Frey didn’t play for the Bears in the 2012 regular season but developed into the starting nickel back in 2013 and appeared in three games in 2014. This was not a bad pick. Frey is a decent player who also caught on with Tampa. Nice value in the sixth round.
Seventh round: Greg McCoy, CB, TCU -- Never played for the Bears.