Sep 7, 2013; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers defensive end Scott Crichton (95) pressures Hawaii Warriors quarterback Taylor Graham (8) at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

How the Chicago Bears Should Approach the 2014 NFL Draft

The direction is pretty easy to see, but the Chicago Bears are somewhat unclear on their 2014 NFL draft intentions.  Here is what they should consider.

Phil Emery must field offers for trading down

Defense will be the focal point for most of the draft process in Chicago as they work feverishly to repair a unit that ranked 30th overall and 32nd against the run.  The problem at hand is that there may be too many holes to fill.  At present the Bears have seven picks.  While free agency could certainly help alleviate some of the needs, the bottom line is they stand to lose a number of key players on the defensive side at every level from the line to linebackers to the secondary.  After signing Jay Cutler, Tim Jennings and Matt Slauson to new deals the cap space won’t be substantial for filling many spots.  Besides, GM Phil Emery has said he wants his team to get younger on defense.  That means the draft.  Still, seven picks likely won’t solve enough of their problems.  After all, could they really consider passing up a high quality offensive player just for the sake of taking a defender?  No teams wants to be in that position.  That is why it might be a better idea for Emery to think about quantity of quality.  Chicago could really use more draft picks, and the way to do that is by moving down the board.

New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers are good targets

For the first time in his tenure Emery may have the necessary position to pull that off too.  Chicago currently holds the 14th pick in the draft.  That puts them in an ideal spot to warrant other teams wanting to move up, perhaps to capture some quality talents who fall out of the top ten.  Yes, it would rob the Bears of a chance to take a possible top ten name themselves but their problems go beyond just one player.  Besides, the depth and quality of the defensive 2014 NFL draft class is very strong at a number of positions.  Moving down does have some risk, but it would be a calculated one.  The question at that point would be finding takers.  Some teams to keep in mind are the New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers.  The Jets are in the market for a wide receiver or a high quality tight end.  Holding the 18th pick doesn’t guarantee them getting a difference-maker.  Chicago could offer them the 14th selection in return for a third round pick, of which the Jets have two and perhaps a late rounder as well.  San Francisco meanwhile is in a position where their roster doesn’t need a lot of upgrades, so they can feel free to throw their weight around with the wealth of picks they currently have, including two second and two third round choices.  By trading with them the Bears would drop into the upper 20s area or even the 30s, but in return could land three or four picks including a second round choice.

Jason Verrett and Scott Crichton showcase fringe round options

By adding more selections to the second and third round, the Bears would set themselves up to not only still get one or two potential playmakers on defense, but also offer the opportunity to add some young depth to the offense.  Among some names that would fit their defense perfectly and can still be found late in the first and early second include Jason Verrett out of TCU and Scott Crichton from Oregon State.  Verrett is a short but athletic corner who sticks to receivers like glue and has a sixth sense when it comes to attacking the football.  He also plays physical, showing a willingness to tackle.  Crichton is not the best athlete but he is a perfect fit for the Chicago Bears defense at end.  He has excellent upper and lower body strength, is relentless when rushing the passer and can hold the point of attack defending the run.  Either player would fill key needs on the defense at a fraction of the cost.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: 2014 Nfl Draft Chicago Bears Jason Verrett Phil Emery Scott Crichton

  • Leslie Hoerwinkle

    Bears should draft

  • Thompson Way

    So, you are saying that the Bears should pass on the best possible players, to get more lower quality players. I disagree. I think that the Bears should get the best players, even by moving up in the draft if possible, and then filling out the roster with a mix of undrafted free agents, and older average free agents. The object is to increase the talent level. Yes, it cannot be done in one draft, but don’t lose your way by decreasing the talent pool with quantity.

    • Erik Lambert

      Just because players are taken in later rounds doesn’t mean they are bad. Remember that there is more than a fair share of first round busts. If I were the Bears, why would I want to risk swinging and missing on the top pick (like they did with McClellin) when I could give myself a cushion to get some difference-makers in the second and third round. This 2014 class is deep. It’s not just about star power right now for the defense. It’s about depth, which was horridly exposed this season. Having more picks allows them to address more positions and also opens the door to maybe add some extra protection and weaponry for Jay.

      • Thompson Way

        Ever draft each position is evaluated by the so called experts (agree crap shoot), but most agree that there is a drop off from the elite few to the main body of draft hopefuls. Take this years draft for example, we have two elite Safeties and then nobody.
        My point is that I don’t want the Bears to give up that opportunity for that elite player.

        • Erik Lambert

          I wouldn’t say Lamarcus Joyner and Deone Bucannon are nobodies. Clinton-Dix is not what I would call elite. He’s a great center field type with good instincts but he’s not very physical against the run. Calvin Pryor is the opposite, great against the run but seems inconsistent in coverage. To me the only prospects worth sticking at #14 for are C.J. Mosley, Jadeveon Clowney and MAYBE Darqueze Dennard. Frankly I feel all three will be gone before the Bears pick. That is why I favor moving down. If they were in the top ten this would be a different discussion, but they aren’t.

          • Thompson Way

            I agree that Clinton-Dix is the flavor of the day.
            I think that the Bears just might benefit from some illogical run on QBs or OTs. Sure if your first round guys are off the board already, then move back, but at 14, I think the odds are with the Bears for a great selection. Thank you for the read by the way.

          • Erik Lambert

            My pleasure. Let me ask you then. Who would you stick at #14 for?

  • wachscraig

    lose a number of key players on defense , whom do you speak of ? bears need stud middle linebacker and stud defensive tackle.. i believe bostic an greene will be good backers , but on outside …. 6 picks defense / 1 pick o-line ( center )

    • Erik Lambert

      Zack Bowma, Charles Tillman, Henry Melton, Nate Collins, Corey Wootton, D.J. Williams, James Anderson and Major Wright are all free agents.

      • wachscraig

        Being sarcastic Eric ; the article says { KEY } players …. as bad as this defense played are any of these FA key , i think not …Wootton , possibly Tillman i keep ,, thats it….. Melton if healthy and for lot less money

  • Skyler Hamilton

    I can’t emphasize enough just HOW deep this draft is in terms of defensive talent. You will be seeing day 1 starters selected in the 4th round; the defensive tackle from LSU immediately comes to mind. As far as the Bears go, it’s been a few years since they’ve selected this high in the draft (I believe we took Chris Williams 14th overall in 2008.) As many have stated, the draft is a crapshoot. There are a few can’t miss prospects, but other than that, you never really know and frankly, you never even know about those “can’t miss prospects.” Jamarcus Russel, Ryan Leaf, Darius Heyward Bey, Ryan Matthews, Melvin Ingram, Reily Reiff and David Decastro were all “can’t miss prospects” over the last few years.

    With that being said, I think the Bears should trade down if a select few players don’t drop to their 14th spot. If neither Mosley or Dennard are there, I say trade down to the later portion of the first round and package an extra 3rd round pick or so. In a crap shoot like the NFL draft, more picks will give you more chances to hit a homerun.

    • Erik Lambert

      My feeling as well, Skyler.