Dec 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Aaron Donald (97) waves to fans exiting the field after defeating Bowling Green Falcons 30-27 to win the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Why Chicago Bears Fans Must Not Overlook the Senior Bowl


It might seem like a dead zone to Chicago Bears fans with their team out of playoff hunt.  Here’s why they might want to tune in for the Senior Bowl.

Kyle Long and Shea McClellin were both standouts in that event

Figuring out where a team will go on draft day is one of the favorite activities for die hard fans and keeps minds occupied during the bummerific down months without actual football.  Unfortunately the draft is still months away so occupying that time is difficult.  For Bears fans, they know what is ahead for their team.  Nearly the entire off-season figured to get devoted to using every dime and draft pick available to fix a defense that was among the worst in franchise history.  The hard part is figuring out which prospects they might target when the draft finally does arrive.  What they should know based on past history is that they may find their guy at the Senior Bowl down in Alabama.  Since he took over as GM in 2012, Phil Emery has shown he takes great stock in the event.  His very first draft pick, Shea McClellin, was among the more popular standouts that years showcasing his speed and athleticism as a potential pass rusher.  A year later Emery repeated process when guard Kyle Long stuck out during drills and workouts.  Chicago took him 20th overall.  Whether this strategy is right or wrong is hard to debate.  At present McClellin is looking like a bust and in line for a position switch while Long is headed to his first Pro Bowl.  The point is Emery tends to put players who shine in the bowl higher on his board come draft day.

Aaron Donald and Jimmie Ward are names to watch carefully

If that is the case then it will be very important over the next few days to see what develops with the prospects down in Mobile.  Already there is a small buzz coming out about some standouts on the offensive and defensive sides.  One that would really interest the Bears is defensive tackle Aaron Donald.  Lauded all season for his ability to explode off the snap and beat blockers with relentlessness and leverage, it showed up repeatedly in practices.  The fact he victimized top guard prospect Cyril Richardson more than once should show he can handle the very best the NFL has to offer.  Chicago has need for help on the defensive line, especially at tackle.  Donald could help them in so many way.  Another area that may be due for some changes is safety.  Christ Conte and Major Wright each had their problems in 2013 whether it was in coverage or taking angles to stop the run.  A name that has caught some attention lately is Northern Illinois standout Jimmie Ward.  Scouts got an eyeful of the foot quickness and aggressive instincts that allowed him to intercept seven passes during the season.

Either player would definitely look enticing once the Chicago Bears go on the clock, and the fact they stood out at the Senior Bowl could clinch for them.

Tags: Aaron Donald Chicago Bears Kyle Long Senior Bowl Shea McClellin

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