In Need Of A Backfield Boost: As Draft Day nears, whispers have a way of sneaking out from Halas Hall, with the “Make or Break” weekend in April (26-27) approaching, GM Jerry Angelo (whether you believe the reports: Cancel Rashard, Insert New Plan, RB In 3rd Round) says the focus/desire to select a RB in the 1st round ahead of an Offensive Lineman has diminished with the on-going (more private workouts scheduled April 3) development of a certain Tulane product. This bruising ballcarrier has a power running style that fits the scheme in which the Bears are seeking. On top of his impressive repertoire, Mr. Forte has a strong resume, part of the reason the team is extensively working out this relentless back who has the chance to bolster their less than stellar ground game.
Corey Dillon Comparisons: At 6-foot 2, 225-pounds, the record breaking wrecking ball from Tulane is the type of the runner Chicago wants in their backfield and he should be available in the 3rd round. The Green Wave prospect is rising up draft boards and it looks like he is an intriguing back that interests the Monsters of the Midway enough to pass on Rashard Mendenhall, addressing their major need, the offensive line, with their first round choice (#14). If Chicago is indeed serious about drafting a RB later (mid-round) instead of sooner (1st round), a talented RB like Forte would be worthy enough to wait for. It appears that the team is over the “hype” of the Illinois standout (Mendenhall), as they are now shifting their attention to a star from Conference USA.
Impressed: I must say his productivity, vision, toughness, and quickness for a guy his size, may be too good to overlook in the 3rd round. Forte could have Bears fans believing he’s capable of being the featured back the team was expecting to find in Benson. Envision a scenario where Chicago chooses a pair of OL Day 1, while upgrading their offensive skill positions with Forte and either a WR/QB in the 3rd round. While going this route gives the team more flexibility (easier to go OL early, getting the “best athlete” available later) and eliminates the pressure of targeting a RB (conscious about history of 1st Round RB’s) that would be counted on to succeed as the go-to-guy behind an inconsistent line, Chicago has to do extra study and research to make sure they are not passing up on an elite “Adrian Peterson-esque” back who has the ability to make a legitimate impact as a playmaker on a sputtering offense without any true gamebreakers. Barring a trade down, it’s safe to say the 14th pick will be used on an OL – not a RB. In spite of all the rumors in midst of the mad speculation, Forte is the back the Bears covet, though I’m convinced we would be making a big mistake (unless Top 5 caliber falls) by not snatching the hometown hero everyone wants, because if we miss in this year’s draft it could set the offensive rebuilding process back – another five years. Rashard Mendenhall has too big of an upside unlike Chris Williams (OT, Vanderbilt) to overlook, and for us to revive the ground game, we need to get into “aggressive mode” by boldly going for it all, choosing the draft’s finest playmaker not named McFadden, executing a move that could decide to be a key piece in waking up a lackluster offense, while putting back together a once strong, yet now, dismal rushing attack.
NFLDraftCountdown.Com & FFToolBox.Com Scouting Reports:
- Matt Forte, RB, Tulane – 4.46 (40 Time)
- Strengths: Has excellent size…Real versatile…Tough and physical…Very good blocker…Great vision and instincts…Runs hard and with power…Does a nice job in short-yardage situations…Good hands and he can catch the ball out of the backfield…Productive.
- Weaknesses: Lacks great timed speed and quickness…Needs to get stronger…A ‘tweener who may not have a true pro position…Is not explosive or a big play threat…Won’t be a traditional lead blocker…Not real elusive…Has some durability/health concerns.
Going In-Depth With Forte: He is an experience back, with a strong build. He’s a very tough inside runner, is able to break tackles and gains yards after contact. Forte is patient, allowing the blockers to do their job before hitting the hole. He protects the ball well, is a capable receiver out of the backfield and can extend his hands to catch out-of-reach passes. He is a better than average blocker, with good blitz awareness. He lacks speed (4.46-40), he is not elusive and will sometimes get caught from behind. He has difficulty turning the corner also also needs to improve his route running. Forte was a solid college running back. But there were questions regarding his game. Is he a one year wonder? Could he perform at the same level against top competition? He put those questions to rest with a very impressive 59 rushing and 38 receiving yards effort in the Senior Bowl. His performance earned him the MVP trophy. Forte had consistently showed that he is a force while running between the tackle. He wears down defensive linemen. Forte is a solid and consistent back, who is able to move the pile and posses the necessary work ethic to perform at the next level. Though, his lack of speed and elusiveness is a concern. Before the postseason, Forte was expected to go in the middle to late rounds of the draft, but a solid, if not spectacular postseason had launched him to the late third or early fourth round area. In fact, several scouts believe that with time, better coaching and more effort, Forte could challenge for a starting role within three years.