In the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears selected Ka’Deem Carey, running back from the University of Arizona. Subsequently, what the Monsters of the Midway received was a running back that boasts the potential to be an NFL starting running back.
As a sophomore, Carey led the nation with 1,929 rushing yards in 2012, setting both school records and Pac-12 records, and last year was third in the nation in rushing behind Andre Williams of Boston College and Jordan Lynch of Northern Illinois.
Carey’s dominance during his sophomore and junior seasons in Tucson, however, were overshadowed by one inflated and over magnified statistic: his NFL combine 40-yard dash time clocked at 4.69 seconds.
As I watched game film of Carey it became evident that that the 40-yard dash, while it continues to be the most effective measure of raw speed, shouldn’t be the underlying and most dominating factor of a player’s draft stock. First of all, he runs faster than his combine time on film. Earning playing time as a true freshman in 2011, Carey is a weathered, every down running back, that has proven that he can make plays both out of the backfield and as a pass catcher. Whether it’s running the ball in between the tackles or bouncing to the outside, Carey is tough to take down at 210 pounds and invites contact against linebackers and defensive backs in open field.
The Bears’ front office wasn’t reluctant to recognize the potential that Carey demonstrated in his final two years at the collegiate level. The NFL has developed into a league that emphasizes depth at all positions and sustaining a second string ball carrier with potential starting talent is necessary in what many perceive as the most physical position on the gridiron.
In 2014, it will be likely that Carey will get his touches on situational downs as the backup to Matt Forte who is coming off of a Pro Bowl selection, finishing second in rushing last season with 1,339 yards on the ground.
At 28 years old and two years left on Forte’s four-year contract extension signed back in 2012, the Bears will have a decision to make in 2016 regarding their backfield tandem. At that time, Carey will have played two years in the league with the Bears molding the versatile tailback to assume the bulk of the carries for the Bears’ offense behind what the Bears believe to remain a high powered offense under Marc Trestman.
What the Bears drafted with the 117th overall selection in this year’s draft was an every down tailback that has proven success in one of college football’s major power conferences. More valuable than fourth round talent, Carey’s playmaking abilities fit the Bears’ philosophy, using the backfield as an integral aspect of the offensive scheme.
In a pass happy league, the most dynamic offenses balance the pass game with the ground work and Ka’Deem Carey will provide the Bears with a productive set of fresh legs every time he enters the huddle in what is poised to be a special season with great expectations in Chicago.