All 9 of Bears Draft Picks Signed and Ready for Camp

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As Bears fans around the Nation prepare and await for the defending NFC Champions to start Training Camp tomorrow; they will not have to be concerned if a rookie is a no-show, misses any valuable time, or comes to camp late, out of shape and out of rhythm, not on the exact, same page. No worries for LB Lance Briggs’ contemplated holdout (skipping 10 games), TE Greg Olsen not being signed before July 27, and controversies between player(s) and coach, like some teams have to deal with. For the second year in a row the Chicago Bears have made sure that each Draft selection has agreed to a deal before the start of Training Camp. This has been a main focal point since the bizzare, 36-day long fiasco of RB Cedric Benson in ’05, causing him to miss important time that he will not be able to go back and make-up during his Rookie campaign. That lengthy holdout lasted until the final preseason game, changing the approach of the Bears front office and testing contract negotiator Cliff Stein to do a better job of getting deals done sooner. Now after the incident, two years ago, the team has been first to sign all of their draft choices the past couple of years. The team has taken matters more seriously, wanting each rookie deal to be completed as soon as possible, done in advance, as they’ve shown by signing Miami Hurricane 1st rounder Greg Olsen before any other 1st round pick in the entire NFL. Now here’s what you can expect from all 9 of the Chicago Bears draft picks in 2007.

1. Greg Olsen TE (Miami): Greg Olsen will contribute right away, making an impact in the red zone, and on third downs in the passing department. Look for Olsen to be in with fellow teammate and TE Desmond Clark in the “new” two-tight end sets, for a better, more explosive aerial attack. Olsen will make his presence felt giving QB Rex Grossman an option as a breakaway deep threat, (4.5 – fast) an easy checkdown, safety valve, (breaks tackles very well) and another sure-handed target (6-foot 6, 254 pounds) down the middle of the field as a pass catching TE.

2. Dan Bauzin DE (Cent. Michigan) Dan Bauzin, the MVP of the East-West Shrine game with 2 1/2 sacks, is a relentless pass rushing defensive end. He broke many records as a Chippewa in the MAC, and figures to be part of the Bears game plan as a situational d-lineman on passing downs, getting to the QB, creating pressure. Bauzin gets the job done and will bring productivity, quickness, and add depth, off the edge, backing up LDE Adewale Ogunleye.

3. Garrett Wolfe RB (No. Illinois) Garrett Wolfe is a small, speedy RB who can go the distance in a variety of different ways. Wolfe can take it to the house via the screen, pitch, or between the tackles, en route to the end zone, finding his way by following his lead blockers ahead. Wolfe can make you miss and will be a change of pace back, as a weapon out of the backfield on third downs as a receiver. He can catch the ball exceptionally well and make plays running the ball (good cutback ability) or hauling it in through the air.

4. Michael Owko LB (Stanford) Owko is a good fit at OLB for the Bears “Tapma 2” Defense. He has speed and can makes plays in pursuit to the ballcarrier. I think he is a couple of years away from making an impact at the OLB position, but he can make a difference right away as a special teamer. He is undersized and was a bit of reach in the 3rd round, but the Bears see him as a future starter replacing Briggs, as he’s a young ‘backer in the mold of #55.

5. Josh Beekman OG (Bost. College) Beekman was a steal and value pick in the late 4th round. He was consistent starting nearly every game after freshman year for the Eagles. He gives the Bears a promising backup for Offensive Guards Ruben Brown and Roberto Garza this season. Beekman is versatile, bringing youth, depth to the veteran o-line, being able to play both guard spots and center also. Beekman has the size to fill in at tackle if they need him to, and he is projected to be a starter down the road, maybe in a few years or as early in ’08.

6. Kevin Payne SS (La. Monroe) Payne is my second favorite draft pick next to RB Garrett Wolfe, as he can bring toughness (also played LB), speed (played WR before), quickness (former RB in college), and become a factor as strong-hitting (plays Strong Safety) defensive back. Payne will develop into an intimidating force and is being groomed to eventually replace leader Mike Brown at the SS position. He should raise some eyebrows and open up eyes at Camp, showing his ballhawking skills and ability at Safety. He will probably end up as a “key” special teams player (gunner) and crack the defensive starting line-up as soon as next year. Payne is only beginning to realize his potential, and is tapping into it right now as a major athlete that will contribute down the line in the Bears secondary.

7. Corey Graham CB (New Hapmshire) Graham is a special teams standout and can return both punts and kicks as an added bonus. Graham has the size, talent, and coverage skills to become a nickel back this year for the Bears. He is very talented, but is raw as a defensive back. Graham will probably be the team’s #5 CB (recovering from leg injury suffered in college) behind last year’s top pick, second rounder, S/CB Danieal Manning. He will be counted during long pass situations in the secondary, getting playing time on the field if one of the Bears corners/safeties is hurt. He has the chance to become a starter down the road because of his physical ability and speed.

8. Trumaine McBride CB (Ole Miss) Coming from a tough SEC conference, McBride was a steady starter for his senior year, playing for the Rebels. He might make the team as a special teams player or an insurance cornerback. He is undersized and did not make many plays in college. He could develop and be a long-term project if the Bears want to keep six CB’s on the roster. He probably will not earn a roster spot, but will likely be brought back a practice squad player.

9. Aaron Brant OT (Iowa State) This final draft pick is a huge offensive lineman at 6-foot 7, 320 pounds, and should make the team if he has a good training camp and preseason. Brant was a Big-12 standout and could give the Bears some much needed depth at tackle. The former Cyclone OT is an intruiging prospect and I predict he will make the roster as the team’s 4th or 5th tackle on the depth chart. Brant is one of those offensive lineman who can emerge from being a low, 7th draft pick, and make his way up to becoming a starter in the next two or three years for veteran Fred Miller or John Tait.

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