The fans and media aren’t the only ones closely watching the draft. Current players, who know they have to fight to start, or even make the roster, will want to keep tabs on their team’s draft picks.
The Bears drafted four defensive players, three offensive players and one punter, adding more competition to positions like defensive tackle and running back, but also putting the onus on players already on the roster at other positions to win the job.
Here’s a look at players who may have been pleased to see how the Bears draft went, because it didn’t make a summer trying to win a starting job or make the roster any more difficult than it already is.
Safety Chris Conte: This by no means makes Conte your Day One starter for the Bears — far from it — but he had to breathe a sigh of relief when he saw the Bears waited until the fourth round to take a safety — same goes for Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings. Conte has plenty of work to do coming off his worst season and considering he will get a late start because of shoulder surgery.
By not taking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor in the first round, the Bears are leaving the starting safety competition to the players they have, plus Brock Vereen, who certainly could win the battle. There seems to be confidence — or, hope — that Conte can turn things around.
Linebackers Shea McClellin, Jon Bostic and D.J. Williams: Or, "linebackers not named Lance Briggs." When the Bears were on the clock at 14, C.J. Mosley would have made sense, and that would have likely been bad news for Williams, but instead, the Bears did not draft a single linebacker. Granted, undrafted free agent Christian Jones has a chance to make the roster, but probably not in a starting role. For 2014 at linebacker, the Bears have enough on their plate in terms of young, recent draft picks competing (McClellin and Bostic), and they’re comfortable going forward with Williams, despite his recent injury history.
Here's what Phil Emery said about not addressing a linebacker:
"Obviously, we have a number of young players at the position that we feel the competitive level of fighting for a starting job is going to be very high. In terms of who comes out that end as far as the starters, the best players win. And again, Lance is the only one that’s been told that he has a job, and the rest of them are fighting for it. We’ll definitely gain some players through college free agency, and we’ll see how that goes."
Reserve wide receivers: This is bound to be quite the competition in camp to begin with, between Marquess Wilson, Domenik Hixon, Eric Weems, Josh Morgan, Josh Bellamy and Chris Williams to earn roster spots — though Wilson is pretty much set as the No. 3 wideout. Some thought finding a prototypical slot receiver, especially one with return abilities, would be on the Bears’ priority list in the later rounds, but clearly the team is content with the players brought in, joining Wilson, Weems and Williams. The former CFL return star, Williams, gets the biggest boost — it'd be easy to find a corner or running back with significant and dynamic return experience — and now he enters camp as the No. 1 option to replace Devin Hester.
Backup tight ends: It was a weak tight end class, and that had teams taking players well before many projected. For example, I thought Colorado State’s Crockett Gillmore would be a nice addition for the Bears in the fifth or sixth round, and he went to the Ravens in Round Three. Dante Rosario, Matthew Mulligan, Fendi Onobun and Zach Miller are the current vets who will be vying to be Martellus Bennett’s backup in 2014. A mid-round pick at tight end could have vaulted a few of the aforementioned players and been a favorite to make the roster. The Bears went through several options in camp last year before landing on Rosario, and they still used Eben Britton as an extra blocker. Not a sexy position by any means, but the No. 2 tight end candidates don’t have to worry about a hotshot rookie entering their battle.