Chicago Bears: Top 10 Prospects

Zackary Bowman (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Scout.com's Chris Steuber continues the top 10 prospects series, and starts his breakdown of the NFC North by profiling the Chicago Bears. In this series, an NFL prospect is classified as a player entering their third year in the NFL or under 25 years of age. Find out who the Bears top 10 prospects are entering the 2010 season.

Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
CB
6-1
193
3
25

It's unfortunate, but injuries have determined the career of Zack Bowman since his junior season at Nebraska when he suffered a torn ACL. And, if it wasn't for that injury, Bowman would have been a first round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, but he ultimately fell to the fifth round. As a rookie, Bowman showed his upside in the only game he played in against the Minnesota Vikings, but again, he succumbed to an injury that resulted into him being placed on injured reserve. However, after a few months of rehab and conditioning leading up to the 2009 season, Bowman's luck changed and it benefitted the Bears. After starter Nathan Vasher went down with an injury during the first week of the '09 season, Bowman took over and posted Pro Bowl worthy numbers playing in all 16 games, starting 12 and recording 66 tackles and six interceptions. Bowman is projected to be a starter this year and replace Charles Tillman. If he stays healthy, he has the talent to be one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

Drafted by Chicago in the 5th Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
RB
6-2
218
3
24

After a sensational rookie campaign with the Bears in 2008, Matt Forte had a disappointing sophomore season and appeared to fall out of favor with the coaching staff towards the end of the year. Forte has started every game since being drafted by the Bears in the second round during the '08 draft, but his lack of burst and inability to break tackles consistently last season was glaring. He carried the ball 258 times for 929 yards (3.6 YPC) and four touchdowns; totals that don't compare with the output he produced in '08. Entering his third season, this is the year that will determine Forte's career. He can either bounce back from last season, or, if he continues to struggle, his name will be mentioned with the likes of Rashaan Salaam and Curtis Enis; two names that Bears fans despise.

Drafted by Chicago in the 2nd Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
OT
6-6
315
3
24

The Bears first round pick in 2008, Chris Williams has yet to show his true potential, but he's getting close. As a rookie, Williams dealt with a back injury and only participated in nine games. But, this past year, he played in and started all 16 games and did an adequate job protecting Jay Cutler. Williams showcased the ability to be a quality LT last season, and moving forward he's going to be the man protecting Cutler's blind side.

Drafted by Chicago in the 1st Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
WR
6-0
185
2
23

Nobody would have guessed the success of Johnny Knox during his rookie season. A fifth round pick from Abilene Christian, who some considered a long shot to even make the Bears roster, he emerged as a big play threat and earned a spot on the NFC Pro Bowl team when a fellow first-year phenom Percy Harvin (Minnesota Vikings) pulled out due to injury. Playing in 15 games, missing the final game of the year with an ankle injury, Knox hauled in 45 receptions for 527 yards and five touchdowns. He also returned a kickoff for a 102-yard touchdown. Knox will likely be a starter this season, but he will have to compete with Earl Bennett for the job during the preseason.

Drafted by Chicago in the 5th Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
DE
6-6
270
R
22

Corey Wootton has the size and athleticism to be a very good pass rusher at the next level, and if he didn’t tear his ACL during the 2008 Alamo Bowl, he would have left Northwestern after his junior year and been a first- or second-round pick. Wootton played the entire 2009 season for the Wildcats at roughly 70-percent and still managed to record 21 tackles and four sacks. The Bears got a steal with Wootton in the fourth round, and with him being close to 100 percent, expect him to have a solid training camp and preseason and be a major factor opposite Julius Peppers this year.

Drafted by Chicago in the 4th Round (2010).
Earl Bennett
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
WR
6-0
204
3
23

The Bears roster is full of former Vanderbilt stars, and a player who got off to a rough start in Chicago as a rookie, but rebounded and became an integral part of the offense with Cutler leading the way was Earl Bennett. Bennett may not be the fastest or tallest receiver, but he has sure hands and flashed them as a starter in 15 of the 16 games he played in by catching 54 passes for 717 yards and two touchdowns. He will have to compete with Knox for a starting job this summer, but it appears he's destined to lineup in the slot.

Drafted by Chicago in the 3rd Round (2008).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
FS
5-11
206
R
21

Major Wright is a solid all-around safety that was underrated during the draft process. After recording 32 tackles and three interceptions as a junior, Wright decided to forego his senior year at Florida to enter the draft. He has good size and speed and the ball skills to compete with any other safety in the draft not named Eric Berry or Earl Thomas. He will compete with Bears 2009 sixth-round pick Al Afalava for the starting free safety job, and it’s believed that he has the upper hand in that battle.

Drafted by Chicago in the 3rd Round (2010).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
WR
6-0
205
2
22

Spending all but one game on the inactive list during his rookie campaign, Juaquin Iglesias looks to get more playing time this season. It will be tough for him to break into the top three on the Bears WR depth chart with Devin Hester, Knox and Bennett comfortably slotted in. But, he will have to battle with Rashied Davis and Devin Aromashodu for the No. 4 and 5 positions. It seems like Aromashodu will be with the team, and it's unlikely that the Bears will release Iglesias, which leaves Davis as the odd man out.

Drafted by Chicago in the 3rd Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
DT
6-5
285
2
23

Known for his infamous YouTube video where he jumped out of a swimming pool, Jarron Gilbert was unable to jump into the Bears lineup and make an immediate impact during his rookie year. The Bears third round pick in '09; Gilbert played in four games and had just one tackle to his credit. It will be interesting to see how the Bears use Gilbert this season; most likely in a rotation with Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams and Marcus Harrison. Gilbert's game is best suited for a 3-4 defense where he can play DE, but he gives Lovie Smith some flexibility and could be moved around upfront.

Drafted by Chicago in the 3rd Round (2009).
Pos
Ht
Wt
Exp
Age
CB
5-11
188
R
21

Rounding out the Bears Top 10 Prospects was tough, because there were a few players that could have graced this list: Al Afalava, Craig Stelz or Marcus Harrison. But, rookie Joshua Moore is an intriguing player who has good size and speed. He's the perfect Cover-2 corner, but has to be more physical against the opposition. He has time to develop, and the coaching staff will see how he fairs this preseason, but he's a likely candidate to be redshirted (placed on IR) this season.

Drafted by Chicago in the 5th Round (2010).


For more on the Bears, check out Bear Report.


A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. Steuber’s features are published across the Scout.com network and on FoxSports.com. If you wish to contact Chris Steuber, email him at: csteuber@scout.com. You can also now follow Chris Steuber on Twitter.

ScoutNFLNetwork.com Recommended Stories


Up Next


Forums


20 Fans online
    Join The Conversation

    Tweets