The substantive reviews of the Bears' 2014 NFL draft will take years to materialize, after two, maybe three seasons have passed and the direction of eight players selected over a 47-hour span becomes far clearer.
But on Saturday evening, when it came time to sit back and offer instant assessment on all of this draft's twists and turns, general manager Phil Emery expressed a profound sense of satisfaction.
By his account, a hectic weekend had glided smoothly, right along with the Bears' ideal plan.
Needs were identified. And needs were met.
This was Emery's third draft as Bears GM and 16th overall, he said, dating to his days as a scout.
"These come in all varieties with how people work with one another," Emery said. "And this was awesome."
As a catalyst, Emery said, the unified vision and communication between scouts, coaches and front office provided a jolt of energy.
Of even more importance, he said, "I see that we got good football players at positions where we had need for more competitive players."
After spending the draft's first two nights zeroed in exclusively on defense, the Bears assembled a five-man finishing act Saturday with the newcomers coming in all shapes and sizes and across all three phases.
Ka'Deem Carey, a running back from Arizona, was one of two fourth-round picks. He was the 2013 Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year with more than 3,800 rushing yards plus 42 touchdowns over his final two seasons. Safety Brock Vereen became the Bears' target soon after, wanted by Emery so much that he dialed up a trade with the Broncos to move back into Round 4 to complete a running back-safety combination the organization had desired and planned for Friday night.
The Bears later added a quarterback from the Mountain West Conference -- San Jose State's David Fales -- who immediately projects to challenge one of his mentors, Jordan Palmer, for the Bears' backup job.
And there was also a punter, Miami's Pat O'Donnell, who threw up 23 reps of 225 pounds during the bench press at the combine. Finally, Boise State offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr., became the team's final pick in Round 7.
The addition of Fales certainly was attention grabbing, particularly after Emery said a week earlier that his research had convinced him that selecting a late-round quarterback with an eye on developing a long-term future starter was misguided. But, just to be clear, the Bears already have their long-term starter in Jay Cutler, who's signed for seven more seasons. So Fales' arrival simply puts him alongside Jordan Palmer and Jerrod Johnson in a battle for reserve duties.
"I don't see it as we're drafting a starter," Emery explained. "I see it as we're drafting a player that is going to compete for a roster spot, and I think it's important to have competition as a backup."
Of more significance, with the Bears still needing talent and depth on defense, Vereen will enter his talents into a competition for two starting safety spots that has been characterized as "wide open" at Halas Hall. The cast of candidates includes Chris Conte, Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and Craig Steltz and now a rookie who split time between safety and cornerback last fall and draws widespread praise for his intelligence and leadership abilities.
Vereen's older brother, Shane, is a running back with the Patriots. His dad, Henry, played at UNLV and was a ninth-round pick by the Buccaneers in 1979. There have been advantages to those connections, Brock said.
"I feel like I was able to watch football on an advanced level for a long time," Vereen noted, "because I have been able to see the game through (Shane's) eyes or through my dad's eyes as well."
On the other side of the ball, Carey's vision out of the backfield drew the Bears' interest. And he should quickly charge into a golden opportunity to become the No. 2 running back behind Pro Bowler Matt Forte.
"I would definitely say my running style is hungry," Carey said. "It's aggressive. It's fighting for every yard for my team on every down."
Added coach Marc Trestman: "He's a violent runner. He's a tough runner. He's been very productive and we're looking forward to seeing him with a Bears helmet on."
All eight of the Bears draftees will unite Friday at Halas Hall for rookie minicamp. It will be the start of their NFL journeys, with Emery betting big on the potential long-term payout.
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