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.