Christmas Three has come and gone, and I feel like the Chicago Bears did okay. Major Wright may or may not be the answer at free safety, but getting an actual position-appropriate guy late in the third round is a pretty serious achievement for Jerry Angelo, who seemed to be under the impression for the last four years that strong safeties were all you needed.
Obviously I love the Corey Wootton pick, especially getting a first-round calibre talent in the fourth. The last defensive end I was excited about in the fourth? Alex Brown, who also dropped because of non-football concerns. Though in his case, it was more marijuana than a leg injury. Either way, I think Corey will do well.
Anyway, let's get to the point. After the draft, the Bears went shopping for guys who didn't get picked, and I think they may have found a few gems, especially in Bowling Green wideout Freddie Barnes and Nebraska defensive end Barry Turner.
Barnes was probably the best wide receiver in college football last year, but fell because of a lack of measurables and elite speed. However, he's a polished player and I think he has a good chance to stick. I expect Mike Martz to give every WR on the roster a shot to compete this year. Oh, and he played his high school ball at Homewood-Flossmoor!
Turner had the benefit of playing alongside blue-chipper Ndamukong Suh on the Cornhuskers defensive line, but is it possible that Suh also benefited from Turner? Watching Nebraska last year, I saw a whole lot of Turner in opposing Big Twelve backfields, alongside his superstar line mate. I'm excited to see if Suh's dominance may have masked a good talent in Barry. He had some legal trouble, but also sixteen tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.
There were several other signings that were relevant to our interests here at the Armchair. Indiana LB Matt Mayberry will be coming to camp with a contract, joining fellow Big Ten alums Lawrence Wilson (LB from Ohio State) and Greg Mathews (WR from Michigan). All three were productive collegiate players and I think have a chance to make the roster.
Non-signed free agents are also coming to camp, and include even more names that get my attention. Zeke Markshausen, with his difficult-to-spell name and Wes Welker-esque game, had himself a great year at Northwestern, and will join Eric Peterman, also a Wildcat, in a Bears uniform. Juice Williams, the erstwhile Illini QB, will be scrapping for a shot in the league, but I don't think he has much of a chance.
I think it's crucial for the Bears to find some of these guys who can excel on special teams. Having lost most of our quality gunners, tacklers, and return-blockers in the past couple years, I think our return game would greatly benefit from an infusion of new talent, guys that are hard workers and can make their mark under Dave Toub.
Mayberry, Wilson, and Turner could fit that mold. So could any number of other rookies. The full list of minicamp attendees is here, at the Tribune.