The latest NFL mock drafts are out from ESPN experts and little has changed for the Chicago Bears. What can be read about their latest pick?
Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both select Timmy Jernigan
Everybody seems so convinced that the Bears cannot and will not pass on FloridaState defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan when they go on the clock at #14. At least prominent analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper share that conviction. And why not? Chicago had the worst run defense in the league in 2013 largely thanks to an injury-depleted defensive tackle position that lost three key players before the season was even half complete. Jernigan demonstrated all year in helping the Seminoles clinch a national championship that he is a quick, powerful interior lineman who is at his best plugging up running lanes and making it near impossible to go up the middle. Indeed with Adrian Peterson and Eddie Lacy in the same division it’s a pick that makes a world of sense and a pick that I wouldn’t mind at all, just not at #14. The thing to remember about Jernigan is that despite his obvious talent he’s not the best interior pass rusher, meaning he may just be a two-down player in the pros. Such types are typically not worth such a high pick. Now if the Bears were to say trade back a few spots, scoop up some extra selections and then take him, then by all means. An overall look at the board tells me that the only team that might take Jernigan immediately past Chicago is Dallas at #16. Barring that they may have until the Chiefs at #23 or even the Patriots at #29 before they must worry. That is plenty of breathing room to move back.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Justin Gilbert offer more modern approach
However, taking Jernigan may not be the best course of action for the Bears. While he is most certainly the best at his position, he’s not the most versatile pick, which is something GM Phil Emery covets. Watching the playoffs, the best defenses tended to have rangy, athletic corners and safeties, with the Seattle Seahawks of course being the staple. According to both mock drafts by Kiper and McShay, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is still available at #14. Tall, athletic and instinctive he is a true nuisance for quarterbacks in coverage, displaying the classic center fielder mentality to either break up or intercept passes. Also still on the board is OklahomaState corner Justin Gilbert. Displaying the length, acceleration and fluidity needed to play tight press coverage, he regularly shut down opposing receivers and demonstrated a keen nose for the football. In what has become a passing league, it is beginning to make more sense for defenses to have athletic and physical secondaries who can suffocate opposing receivers. If the Bears need help stopping the run, big bodied defensive tackles can certainly be found in the later rounds.
The Chicago Bears defensive will be better off in the short-term for certain with Timmy Jernigan. However, if they want to affect a real change, they should start by ensuring their pass coverage is solidified first.