Dec 28, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish defensive end Stephon Tuitt (7) celebrates after sacking Rutgers Scarlet Knights quarterback Chas Dodd (19) in the fourth quarter of the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium. Notre Dame won 29-16. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears Priority List for 2014 NFL Draft


Every GM around the league will form a big board of players they want going into a draft.  For the Chicago Bears it’s no different.  Here is an early list of college prospects they must target in the 2014 NFL draft.

Ideal Picks:  Stephon Tuitt and C.J. Mosley offer the most

The players that top a board are always the ones who bring more than one thing to the table.  Those prospects that can not just rush the passer or tackle but can do it all, and do it better than almost anybody.  Considering 2014 figures to focus almost entirely on the defense, the Bears board will likely be inhabited by the best prospects on that side of the ball.  Based on their current draft position it’s easy to rule out names like Jadeveon Clowney or Anthony Barr who are well out of range unless team trades up, which also isn’t likely.  So keeping that in mind, some names that have to top their wish list include Stephon Tuitt out of Notre Dame and C.J. Mosley from Alabama.  Tuitt is a versatile defensive end for the Irish with a rare blend of size and speed that makes him almost impossible to block when his motor is running hot.  Mosley is the leader of the Crimson Tide defense, an athletic inside linebacker who displays intelligence, toughness, range and instincts.  Either player could bring so much to the Bears defense.

Back Ups:  Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Blake Bortles nice consolations

More often than not a team that pick in the middle or near the end of the first round usually doesn’t get the player they want, so it’s important to pinpoint other names on the board they can shift to when those become unavailable.  Chicago could really use an infusion of youth at the cornerback position.  Ifo Ekpre-Olomu is an explosive defender for Oregon, athletic enough to mirror receivers in coverage and fast enough to cut off passing routes when he diagnoses them.  His size is not ideal but in a zone defense his ability to react and tackle are coveted.  Then there is the elephant in the room.  Chicago knows they would like to take a quarterback at some point in the 2014 draft.  The question is when.  If a rising talent like Blake Bortles is available, they can’t pass on him.  Bortles has all the measurables of a pro quarterback with a good arm and accuracy.  He also exudes a calmness under pressure, which is reflected in his frequent comeback victories this year.  Marc Trestman could do a lot with him.

Last Resorts:  Ra’Shede Hageman and Brandin Cooks bring upside

If at the end of the day the Chicago Bears can’t catch any breaks, then they must have a short list of players they’re willing to settle for who exhibit high upside but aren’t immediate helps to the team.  Given their problems at defensive tackle, Ra’Shede Hageman would be a great pick out of Minnesota.  Scouts are in love with his physical dimensions, and he flashes the ability to dominate on more than one occasion.  He needs work on his technique though and could use some motivation in terms of effort.  Another option is wide receiver Brandin Cooks.  Chicago has some instability at the third receiver spot, and they also lack a degree of speed on offense.  Cooks brings burst and acceleration out of OregonState, able to get vertical awfully fast and is an advanced enough route runner to frighten defenses wherever he lines up.  Putting him on the field with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery would be cheating.  Such is how the 2014 NFL draft could go for the Bears.

Tags: 2014 Nfl Draft Blake Bortles Brandin Cooks Chicago Bears Ifo Ekpre-olomu Stephon Tuitt

  • Patrick J OBrien

    Erik-

    Awful predictions. The needs of the Bears go
    1. Safety
    2. Safety
    3. Corner
    4. NT
    5. DE
    6. LB
    7. C
    8. TE

    Ha Ha Clinton Dix or even Nix out of ND would be better choices. Da Bears will get a LB in free agency, but have limited FA options in the secondary

    • Erik Lambert

      With respect, Patrick, you’re having a knee-jerk reaction to what happened Sunday. Yes, the Bears need help at safety but not as much as they need a consistent pass rush. Clinton-Dix and Nix have both battled troubling injuries to their lower extremities this season and are not worth the 14th pick in my mind. As to your idea that the options for secondary in FA are limited, what about Jairus Byrd or T.J. Ward at safety? Or maybe Alterraun Verner, Aqib Talib and Captain Munnerlyn at corner? There are plenty of options.

      I think Major Wright did his job much better than Conte. He was second on the team in tackles after all. No, they need to fortify that front seven. Everything about this defense is stopping the run first and then unleashing the pass rushers. They’ve shown several times in the past you can get by with an okay secondary if your front is stout. I direct you to Carolina and Cincinnati as examples.

      • Patrick J OBrien

        Hey Erik-

        I’ve watched every game this year, and the Bears Safeties are undoubtedly the worst in the NFL. I think their options are limited because of all the moves they have to make in the offseason, (lack of money for a big name) but I’ve also yet to see what will really be available.

        Next Year, with Henry Melton (pro-bowler) and Nate Collins coming back, a healthy Paea, and a possible draft pick of a true NT (big boy) D-Line should become a strength again.

        @LB- Losing DJ Williams was a huge blow, along w/ Briggs being out. w/ more practice and experience, Bostic should become a solid starter, but will never touch Urlacher. (who they should have re-signed).

        It is possible for a 3-4 switch because of Shea + Mel Tucker, but that would obviously change a lot of things on the DL. I think Wooton and Peppers would be solid w/ Nix at NT, DJ Williams and Bostic @ MLB, @Briggs + Shea at OLB

        What do you think?

        • Erik Lambert

          The move makes a ton of sense to me for several reasons. The Bears need to think about finding ways to maximize their young talent. McClellin is a 3-4 outside linebacker and that is the honest truth. He’s playing in the wrong defense. Tucker has had more success running that scheme that the 4-3 so it’s a positive move for him. On top of that, the 2014 class is rich with pass rushing outside linebackers (Anthony Barr, Khalil Mack, Vic Beasley). Don’t forget Cornelius Washington played defensive end in a 3-4 at Georgia. I think Paea could play nose tackle. He has the strength and the frame to put on some weight. The trick will be at cornerback. Such a defense requires corners who can play consistent press coverage. Tillman is 33 and a zone guy while Jennings is too short for that job.

          The way I see it, if that move were made they would want to target Brian Orakpo, Anthony Spencer and Jason Worilds in free agency to bolster the linebackers and focus the draft on getting beefier up front and finding one or two quality cover corners. Not easy.

          More likely this is what they do. Since they have so many free agents it might seem like they don’t have a lot of money, but in reality they do. Very few of the players with expiring contracts had a standout year, meaning the Bears could get them back at a bargain price. I doubt Cutler will command more that $12-13 million per because he hasn’t earned it and because he understands the team needs the money more than he does. After that I would say Jennings and Melton are top priorities. Then here is my gutty move: cut Peppers. It sounds dangerous, but facts are facts. The guy is turning 34, he’s had his worst pass rushing season since 2007 and he will command $18 million in cap space next year. By dumping him the Bears could gain $10 million back and have upwards of $50 million total. That is more than enough to land one or two prominent names on the market.

  • Jesse Wilcox

    They should switch to a 3-4 and take Mosley. Briggs, Mosley, Bostic, and McClellin would be solid. Cut Peppers and go after Byrd or Ward.

    • Erik Lambert

      That would be the idea. Then I would use the first round pick to go after a corner, preferably Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert.

  • Mr.Q

    Best Bears mock draft picks:
    1. LB – CJ Mosley, Bama
    2. DT – Timmy Jernigan, Florida St
    3. S – Calvin Pryor, Louisville (Option 2: Dion Bailey USC)
    4. QB – Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Ill (Option 2: Aaron Murray, Georgia)
    5. CB – Best Available

    6. FB – Trey Millard – Oklahoma
    6. C – Gabe Ikard

    • Erik Lambert

      I wouldn’t be disappointed with that draft at all.

  • metalhead65

    there is no way the bears can Pick a QB early in this draft. they need way to much help on defense to waste a pick on developmental qb. if they let Cutler walk then the improvement the offense showed this year goes down the drain while the new guy learns how to run it. add that with the awful defense and they may be in the hunt for the #1 pick in 2015. defense only draft this year.

    • Erik Lambert

      Well a lot also depends on how they play the 14th pick. They could very well trade down in an effort to acquire more picks, at which points they could satiate the defensive requirements while still reserving some selections to bolster areas on offense and also possibly take a quarterback.