Bears finish off draft with tight end, two defensive backs
LAKE FOREST – The Bears continued their offensive makeover Saturday, selecting another potential playmaker for Jay Cutler and offensive coordinator Mike Tice.
The Bears picked Evan Rodriguez, a tight end out of Temple, with their fourth-round selection (No. 111 overall) in the NFL Draft, hoping to add another dimension to an offense that should look much different in 2012.
“We needed to develop weapons for [Jay Cutler],” Bears general manager Phil Emery said. “We feel good about where we’re at in that process.”
The Bears also took Nevada-Reno defensive back Isaiah Frey in the sixth round and TCU cornerback Greg McCoy with their final pick in the seventh round. They traded their fifth-round selection to St. Louis on Friday to move up in the second round and take South Carolina wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Rodriguez is listed at 6-foot-1 1/2 and 240 pounds and put up impressive numbers at the NFL combine. Rodriguez had the third-fastest 40-yard-dash time among tight ends at 4.58 seconds and the top vertical jump, 36 inches, in that group.
Emery noted that Rodriguez's versatility would be an asset, and some have compared him to New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Emery said the Bears were looking for a tight end who could stay in the game for running and passing situations, forcing defenses to stay with their base personnel.
“We haven’t had a player like Evan on our roster who will allow you to do different things,” coach Lovie Smith said. “He’s comfortable being split out, moving around as an H-back. I’m anxious and excited to see all the things we can do with a player like that.”
The Bears drafted Rodriguez despite some concerns about his character off the field. Rodriguez transferred to Temple from West Virginia after his freshman year when he was involved in a couple of off-field incidents.
“We all make mistakes; it’s growing pains,” Rodriguez said on a conference call. “As long as you learn from your mistakes and don’t let it happen again and mature. ... I’m just happy to get this opportunity.”
Frey (5-10, 190) and McCoy (5-10, 180) were the second and third defensive backs drafted by the Bears this year after Oregon State safety Brandon Hardin was selected in the third round Friday. Emery said they will have a chance to compete for a cornerback spot along with veterans Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite, who were signed in the offseason.
Offensive line was one area the Bears chose not to address through the draft. Smith said the Bears like the offensive line they have and expects Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams to be back next season.
The Bears will likely add more players by signing a number of undrafted free agents, but Emery was satisfied with his first draft class as the Bears’ general manager.
“We felt like we did very well,” Emery said. “Finding the players that can help us the quickest to reach our goals of winning a championship.”
Height: 6-1 1/2
College stats: Rodriguez had 35 catches for 479 yards and two touchdowns in his final year at Temple.
College stats: Frey had five interceptions and 21 pass breakups during his senior season at Nevada.
College stats: McCoy had two interceptions and returned two kickoffs for touchdowns for the Horned Frogs last year.