The first serious wave of 2014 NFL Mock Draft picks are up. Here is a look at what the biggest experts predicted for the Chicago Bears.
Mel Kiper Jr. – ESPN – Pick: Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
There was no beating around the bush when it came to Mel Kiper and his selection for the Bears. He saw Chicago have the worst run defense in the league in 2013, and the biggest culprit was a badly depleted group of defensive tackles. So he has them taking Timmy Jernigan out of FloridaState. Big and deceptively quick, Jernigan has the ability to swallow up blockers and dominate the point of attack so teams struggle to run anywhere near him. He doesn’t give much ground and sheds blocks to make the tackle.
Reaction: The problem I have with this pick isn’t that Jernigan is a bad player it’s that he seems a little too much like a one-dimensional player. He stops the run very well, but his ability as an interior pass rusher is not up to snuff. There is room for improvement there but how much is up for debate. I’m not sure a run stuffer is worth the 14th pick.
Rob Rang – CBS Sports – Pick: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
Prominent draft expert Rob Rang at CBS has a differing opinion. He feels the Bears have gone too long without a difference maker at safety. The last time they had one was with Mike Brown and their defenses were so much more dominant with him on the field. So Rang believes the team will look to overhaul the safety position by taking Alabama standout Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Big and athletic, he covers a lot of ground in a hurry and displays the kind of instincts required in a classic center fielder.
Reaction: A lot of fans are really push for Chicago to get a safety. I for one would certainly not mind it. Clinton-Dix is bigger and more athletic than anybody at the position the Bears have had in year. There are a few concerns about his durability and tackling, but they are minor. This is one selection that could really help the defense.
Matthew Fairburn – SB Nation – Pick: Ra’Shede Hageman – DT – Minnesota
SB Nation followed a similar track as Kiper. However, their writer Matthew Fairburn went a slightly different direction. He believes Chicago will not target Jernigan but instead set their sites on Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman. Where Jernigan is proven against better competition, Hageman is the athletic wonder. His blend of size, strength and speed are elite level though his production for the Gophers didn’t quite prove it. He plays the run well, showing constant flashes that he can dominate blocker and also has big upside as an interior pass rusher.
Reaction: If the Bears were to go after a defensive tackle, Hageman makes more sense to me. Yes, he’s a bit of an unknown but the athletic potential is through the roof and he plays well enough against the run while showing a much better ability to attack the quarterback than Jernigan. The Bears defensive scheme calls for tackles who can do that. Hageman would need a good instructor, but the blueprint is there for a possible monster.
Matt Miller – Bleacher Report – Pick: C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama
Featured columnist Matt Miller of the Bleacher Report had a different approach to the 2014 NFL draft for Chicago. Instead of focusing on key positions like others, he thinks the Bears will instead look to collect the best defensive talent. That is why he has them taking linebacker C.J. Mosley out of Alabama. While he isn’t an immediate need, Mosley brings more to the table than anybody else. Scouts agree there are not many holes in his game. He’s big, athletic, intelligent and a leader on the field. The versatility he brings is a major part of his success because he can rush the passer or stay in coverage while maintaining the needed range and toughness to track down ball carriers.
Reaction: Let me make this plain. If Mosley is on the board when the Bears are on the clock at #14, they have to take him. He is way too good of a prospect with too much upside to pass on. He can do so many things for them and brings an element of command and leadership to the huddle they lost when Brian Urlacher retired. Players like him are what great defenses are built around.
Walterfootball.com – Pick: Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
Prominent draft website Walter Football regularly posts 2014 NFL Mock Draft boards with their own observations based on the most recent news and information acquired. Their most recent projections have the Chicago Bears taking MichiganState cornerback Darqueze Dennard at #14. One of the anchors of that great Spartans defense that led the way to their improbable Rose Bowl victory, Dennard is considered one of the top defensive backs in the 2014 class. Not every team will like him because he’s only 5’11″ but the kid is a tireless worker both physically and mentally. He pushes his athletic gifts to their max and uses a keen mind to rarely get beat. Throughout the season it was very difficult for opposing receivers to get anything against him, which is why he earned the nickname “No Fly Zone.”
Reaction: This is fact. Even with the re-signing of Tim Jennings the Bears still have four other corners on the roster who will become free agents. At some point they have to address the position. Dennard is a very solid pick at #14. His effort level and leadership combined with elite instincts and the ability to go for the football are traits Chicago corners are known for. He could step right in and give them loads of help in a needed area.