Dec 7, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Kony Ealy (47) forces a fumble against Auburn Tigers quarterback Nick Marshall (14) during the first quarter of the 2013 SEC Championship game at Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears #14 NFL Draft Pick: Who Would I Take?

My rundown through the entire first round of the NFL draft continues as I examine the Chicago Bears who hold the #14 pick in the first round.

The Pick:  Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri

People have begun to wonder how Michael Sam was SEC player of the year out of Missouri after a rough combine.  Perhaps it was because he played across from Kony Ealy.  The Missouri defensive end finished the 2013 season strong and is looking more and more like one of the top pass rushers in the NFL draft with plenty of room still to grow.  He’s tall with long arms, athleticism, burst off the snap and adequate size at 270 lbs to hold up against the run.  Bulk is a minor issue at present but should improve with time in the weight room.

Why:  Julius Peppers and Shea McClellin issues make Ealy look good

One would think with so many issues on defense that the Chicago Bears front office is free to simply take the best defender available at #14.  While true to an extent, the fact is their defensive end position might be the worst of the bunch.  Shea McClellin, their 2012 first round pick has flamed out there so he’s already been moved to compete at linebacker.  Solid role player Corey Wootton is a free agent.  Then there is veteran Julius Peppers who carries an $18 million cap hit into 2014 at age 34, dropping big hints that the team could decide to cut him loose and save the money.  That would leave just David Bass and Cornelius Washington as the only ends under contract.  Between them they produced one sack last season.  On top of all that the free agent market looks rather thin at the position, which isn’t good since several teams are in the hunt for pass rush help.  Hence why Ealy makes a ton of sense.

Argument:  Timmy Jernigan and Justin Gilbert offer more potential

Debating this pick won’t come about the fact that he is a defensive player but more about whether Ealy is the best defensive player available.  A lot of experts see high quality targets like FloridaState defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan or OklahomaState cornerback Justin Gilbert still being on the board when the Chicago Bears go on the clock.  Jernigan was dominant at times for the Seminoles during their title run, especially when stopping the run, a problem the Bears had worse than any other team in pro football last year.  Gilbert meanwhile hauled in seven interceptions and blew out the scouting combine with his impressive blend of size, speed and athleticism.  He would make an excellent replacement for Charles Tillman.

Counter-argument:  Ealy is one of the few legitimate 4-3 ends in 2014 class

The key with either of those picks is they aren’t pressing.  Both free agency and the NFL draft have good or adequate crops of defensive tackles and cornerbacks for the Chicago Bears to pick from.  The same is no so for defensive ends.  After Ealy the pickings for legitimate 4-3 types drastically drops on days two and three.  So if the Bears have any plans to get one with serious talent who can help right away, it will have to be early.

That is why I would take Kony Ealy if I were in charge.  What are your thoughts?

Tags: Chicago Bears Julius Peppers Justin Gilbert Kony Ealy NFL Draft Shea McClellin Timmy Jernigan

  • Goodshepherd Americanbullies

    Nice explanation. With all the holes on our defense I feel like I’m about to watch a master magician pull a huge rabbit out his hat to fill every hole with quality players. The Great Phil Emery, LOL !!

    • Erik Lambert

      Emery is already addressing the depth in a lot of key areas and at reasonable prices too. I expect before next Tuesday he’s going to maneuver some cap room into place while he keeps signing certain players back. One thing I know for sure is he’ll strike fast like he did the past two years. He wants to get his guys in house as quickly as possible.

  • JadenStar

    I like this pick, and I definitely wouldn’t have any complaints if they choose Ealy at 14. That being said, the Bears’ defense could use some depth all around. In my opinion, the two best options for them are Aaron Donald and Justin Gilbert, both players will immediately add solid depth and either one could probably get a starting spot relatively quickly. There are also a good slew of DEs set to hit free agency. I see the Bears getting either Michael Bennett or Lamarr Houston.

    • Erik Lambert

      I would not be disappointed with either of those picks. I don’t know if I’d call Bennett and Houston as part of a slew of available FAs though. Bennett was very disruptive for the Seahawks, but you must remember that was as a rotational guy who didn’t have to handle starter snaps. Houston is more of a big body who is great against the run but can also put heat on the quarterback. Neither has broken the double digit sack mark in their careers. If the Bears can’t get them, then I believe they have to grab Ealy while he’s there.

      • JadenStar

        I can understand that reasoning. It’s a tough call, because they could really take something anywhere seeing as how they don’t have a bunch of depth at any position defensively. I think that Bennett might be persuaded to join, but I think Houston would definitely be great for us. He’s only 26, so he’s entering the prime of his career. I doubt Ealy would be able to outperform either one in his rookie year, but he may be better down the road. I also forgot to mention Michael Johnson, who will probably be cheap and could definitely help out at DE. It’s really just a matter of who they think is the best talent available and, of course, what positions we address in free agency.

        • Erik Lambert

          I’m very wary of Bennett. He’s 28 and now has his ring. Often the only thing standing between that kind of player and a drop of in effort is the big pay day. You also should be careful with Houston. Yes he’s only 26 but his highest sack total is six. He’s much more of a run stopper who can also put some pressure on the quarterback. Frankly I’d go after Michael Johnson from Cincinnati. Him and Ealy would make an athletic, disruptive tandem.