Chicago Sun-Times

Bears draft preview: Need No. 11 Fullback

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Need No. 11--Fullback

Players on roster

FB Jason McKie (signed through 2011)
FB Jason Davis (2009)

Need

The Bears went to more double tight-end sets in 2008 with Desmond Clark and Greg Olson and the result was less playing time for Jason McKie, who missed five games with a quad injury. The expectation with the arrival of quarterback Jay Cutler is that the Bears will continue as is or perhaps use the position even less. It seems fullbacks are less involved every year when you look across the landscape of the league. McKie was a dependable outlet in short-yardage and goalline situations until his usage became predictable. The Bears consider McKie to be an above-average fullback and he has some value for them on special teams.

The biggest debate here may be what could turn into a roster battle between Davis and running backs Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe. Given Wolfe's value on special teams last season, that could quickly become a battle between Davis and Peterson for one of the final 53 spots. The Bears began last season with four running backs and one fullback, bringing Davis in on their practice squad before he was eventually promoted. A lot of teams carry just three running backs on their 53. McKie is back to full strength from what was a pretty good quad muscle pull. He's been pretty durable appearing in 42 games over the last three seasons. Given how little the Bears are expected to use the position, it wouldn't be a surprise if they go with just one fullback. But Peterson will have to show more entering the final year of his contract.

Who the Bears have been looking at

We have not identified any players the Bears have been keeping tabs on at this position. College scouting director Greg Gabriel attended the Syracuse pro day where Tony Fiammetta was on display. He's the consensus No. 1 fullback in this draft but will likely come off the board in the middle rounds and considering the Bears' needs, their offense and their track record with the position in the draft, selecting Fiammetta seems unlikely.

Coming Friday morning: Guard.
Coming Friday afternoon: Outside linebacker.

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16 Comments

Is McKie all that good really ???

All I remember of him lately is getting stopped cold on that goofy FB quick hitter Turner Loves to run on short yardage downs and getting K.T.F.O. by the Vikings LB EJ Henderson back in 2007 !!

Seeing how McKie has faired the past few seasons and just how little they due use the FB, I would prefer that Angelo dumps McKie and goes with the younger Jason Davis.

Davis is roughly the same size, played fairly well when called upon last season, was a Ron Turner recruit so he has plenty of playing experience with the system, is cheaper and can play ST's...

Go Bears !!

I wonder if Dennis Gentry is in shape? Without a doubt the best fullback, pound for pound, in the history of the NFL.

To me, Chicago needs to give Matt Forte a dominate lead blocker. I realize the Bears have some other more pressing needs to address in the mid-rounds, and they seem to like Jason Mckie. And I don't think Mckie is that bad either, I just don't think he's a great lead blocker. Chicago needs someone who can give a defender a thump to help open up some holes. This would open a lot of things up for the Bears and their running game, especially in short yardage/goal line situations.

I still think the Bears should go with 3 running backs and 2 fullbacks, as opposed to 4 running backs and 1 fullback. I realize they use a lot more two tight end sets, but you can't go into the season with just one player at a certain position. What if Mckie were to go down during a game, [talk about making the Bears predictable, losing your one lone fullback during a game would do the trick] not good!? The Bears should end up going with Matt Forte, Kevin Jones, and Garrett Wolfe at running back. And at fullback, Jason Mckie and Jason Davis. Adrian Peterson might end up being the odd man out, he's lost a step on special teams, and the Bears seem to want to give Wolfe a bigger role than in the past.

Draft wise, I don't think the Bears will draft a fullback, but I hope they at least consider bringing in a rookie free agent at the position. Someone they could develop on the practice squad for a season to become that dominate lead blocker they currently lack. A player I like as a possible rookie free agent for the Bears is Marcus Mailei of Weber State. Mailei is a thumper inside who often puts his target to the ground. Played at the same high school that produced the Ravens Haloti Nagata. In high school Mailei was a running back. Only touched the ball 27 times while at Weber State, but 20 came as a receiver. When you throw in his ability to block, he has an intriguing skill set for a fullback, especially at 6-0 256lbs GO BEARS!!

I think you might be a bit confused on this one, MS. Gentry was closer to Garrett Wolfe or Devin Hester than a Fullback. From Wikipedia:

"Gentry finished his 11 NFL seasons as the Bears second all-time-leading kick returner, with 4,353 yards and three touchdowns. In 1986, he led the NFL with a 28.8-yards-per-return average."

He was 5'9" and played at about 180 lbs. as I recall - nowhere near FB size. To my memory he mostly was used as a "change-of-pace" RB in third down situations. The draw play to Gentry was used so frequently on third downs during his tenure that it almost became known as "the Gentry." He was also quite a good Receiver as a back.

I long for the days of the true FB. I was a huge fan of Roland Harper and Matt Suhey, both of whom were often mentioned by Walter Payton as major contributors to his massive accrual of yardage. I don't think much of Jason McKie, and I wish the Bears would consider drafting a true FB to help Forte, but I fear that Brad's assessment about the league moving away from the position is correct.

By adding a versatile fullback to the roster like Fiammetta, we can go more with an I-formation, single TE, because of Fiammetta's receiving ability, and still be able to run out of that formation with heavy blocking. Olsen and Clark is not as effective as Clark and Fiammetta, or Olsen and Fiammetta in the running game. You can always motion the FB out wide and throw, using a mismatch.

Not a big need, but one that can pay dividends if they take care of it.

I wouldnt be shocked to see Peterson not make the roster this year. I've liked him for years, but his ST performance last year was average at best, and I can remember two really bad penalties he was called for during the season.

Brad, I've got a two-parter for you: If the Bears go with 4 RB and 1 FB, does Kellen Davis become the defacto backup? Also, do I have a chance of seeing Forte and Jones in the backfield at the same time? Ever since they re-signed him, I've been excited at all the matchup problems the Bears could cause with two dual-threat backs on the field at the same time.

I will agree with KA this time I like the idea of a bruiser in the backfield especially one with good hands and size and extra lineman if you will. The kid from Weber St. is a good idea. That would be another step towards actually getting off the bus running. MS oh brother.

Roland Harper and Matt Suhey, yeah they were great and gave sweetness plenty of room to run. I agree with Joe, we do need a fullback that can block and catch. Fiammetta might be the ticket and might just be worth a pick in the 5th to 6th round if still available.

We do need a thumper at fullback.

Just a thought !

Do we waste a pick on a fullback?
Wouldn't it be more beneficial to the Bears to Draft another OL, and then bring in a number of undrafted fullbacks?
Rebuild the O-Line, the defense, and then bring in as many Players as allowed, WR, Ol, S, D players, and then cut people who haven't done much the last few years.

Thinking out loud !!!!

Can Kellen Davis play H-Back? I know it's kind of a mutant hybrid of fullback and tight end, but Davis may be a good fit for the role if he can run block. There was a bit of a buzz on the radio shows about him in last year's preseason and I would rather have seen him lead block at the goal line against the Vikings than some guy they found off the street 3 days before.

NED,

Nope. All that you said is true, but Gentry also spent a lot of time in the same backfield with Sweetness. For a lot of plays he was the primary blocking back. He really did play fullback at 180 and he was an extremely explosive blocker. That's what I meant by "pound for pound".

What is everyone's thoughts on Jorvorskie Lane from Texas A&M? He runs a 4.7 at 285 lbs. He could be a late 7th rounder, or even a FA. If this guy turns out to be a solid FB, he could create great blocks for Forte, and take on linebackers in short yardage plays.

I think Peterson is gone. He has been a marginal contributor for a few years now, and offers nothing in the running game. I agree that McKie should probably go too.

A team that wants to run needs a premier FB. Fiammetta would be a super choice here. The posts mentioning Suhey and Harper are correct, you need a good FB to open holes for your running game. Relying solely on the OL doesn't work.

And who would you rather draft in the 5th round? The best FB in the draft, or the 25th best offensive lineman. We should worry less about our "needs" and look for players who can make a difference for us when they are on the field.

MS -

No offense, but "nope" isn't a convincing argument. Payton rarely played in the same backfield with Gentry. Their careers overlapped for five seasons. During that time Matt Suhey was the primary FB. When he rested Calvin Thomas took his place. There simply weren't enough snaps for another FB at the time. Gentry was a third down and/or change-of-pace back. On the rare occasions that he and Payton were on the field together, Walter was the more likely blocker (he could have played FB, if he hadn't been so darned good at running with the ball). I'll agree that Gentry was a decent blocker for his size - a PASS blocker on third down plays in which he was not the intended target, which is why he was an excellent player for those situations. He was not a run blocker. To assert that a 5'9" 180 lb. guy spent anything more than token time at Fullback in the NFL during the 1980s is an extraordinary claim. As they say in the realm of critical thinking, extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. Got any?

Perhaps you're remembering their numbers wrong, i.e. mistaking Suhey's 26 for Gentry's 29? You want to talk about great Bears FBs of yore, then let's give credit where it's due. Suhey would be considered undersized for a FB (he played at around 215 lbs.), and so could Roland Harper, who was roughly the same size as Matt. As Bears' Fullbacks go, I'd rate both of them as "legendary." Dennis Gentry, however, was not a Fullback.

Who else in the league has a bruising back like you guys say we should get? And Harper and Suhey were not that great. Playing along side Walter made them decent. They were rather ordinary and Suhey was not that big. If they called him 5'11" 200 they were being generous. The guy was about 5'8" or 5'9". I've met him and his sons are much taller than he is. I'm 5:10" and he is shorter than I am. Now I know Mckie and he is taller than I am and isn't that bad a FB. But since we can prop Harper and Suhey up as standards people tend to cut him down. Suhey was smallish and Harper was just a cog. Neither was a prototype. I hear you guys argue all the time that Uralcher made a bunch of regular LBs good but forget that Walter made everyone else good even when they weren't. Gentry may have lined up in the back field but he usually went wide out. Rarely did he touch the football between the tackles. He is much like Wolfe with much better hands. I'm gonna ask why anyone will call them legendary. Too much stargazing for the 85 Bears. We could've gotten Pee Wee Herman to block for Walter and he still would've gotten a ton of yards for his career. When you see those legendary plays where Walter was running over guys and diving over piles usually his FB was laying on the ground not out there pancaking anyone. You guys love to cut down recent players by applying 85 standards. All the criticism that Tillman gets is a prime example. Who has/had the better coverage skill Leslie Frazier/ Mike Richardson or Tillman and whoever he line up with? Since Frazier/Richardson didn't have to guard anyone that long because of the scheme they get too many props. Yeah, the played against the best players of that era but they usually got beat other than the magical 85. Tillman has to go against better overall players. Every team has a rangy tall receiver who can catch, nowadays. We played against teams in 85 who didn't have great WRs. Not everyone was Jerry Rice. But more guys are now playing close to what Jerry Rice produced. Just about every team even us has at least one WR who can go deep like Jerry did.

MSBearsfan - Dennis Gentry ? He was great, but he was a receiver return man, wasn't he ?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 16, 2009 8:15 AM.

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