Several avenues for continuing the rebuilding process of the Chicago Bears defense have opened. Here is one that could come to pass over the next couple months.
Sign Robert Ayers
Lost in the collective examination of what the Chicago Bears front office has collected so far is that the team actually still has enough salary cap space left to make at least one more big move if the opportunity arises. At present, according to Over The Cap the team still has over $4.9 million available to use even after the re-signing of Charles Tillman. Best of all they have the ability to create more by cutting veterans like Earl Bennett and Eric Weems. Having put their early focus on defensive end, they could look to round out the depth chart with another pass rusher in Robert Ayers. Though he only started three games for the Denver Broncos in 2013, he was a consistent disruptor off the edge, collecting 5.5 sacks often without the help of Von Miller on the field. He turns 29 in September so there is plenty of gas in the tank and could ensure defensive end has plenty of depth come opening day.
Get Aaron Donald in first round of NFL draft
Yes the Bears certainly bolstered their defensive line by adding two young starters at end and retaining both Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins at tackle but there is a real opportunity for the team to bring it all together. Remember, Ratliff is well into his 30s now and Collins is coming off a torn ACL. Chicago could really use a young difference-maker in the middle. Aaron Donald has proven he can become that guy after a stellar 2013 season and pre-draft process. His ability to bring pass rush from the interior is plainly obvious. He explodes off the snap, has a ton of quickness that makes it hard for offensive lineman to get a bead on and when they do it’s too late. Putting him between Lamarr Houston and Willie Young could be that final piece to the rebuild of the Bears front. Not only would it be bigger and younger than a year ago, but it would have a level of versatility that would make it equally dynamic against the run and the pass.
Target Pierre Desir and Bashaud Breeland on Day 2
If that is the approach the Chicago Bears take in the draft, then it would be obvious Day 2 would switch towards bolstering the secondary. The signing of Ryan Mundy at safety was a decent addition but the one area the team hasn’t addressed at all in free agency is cornerback. Tim Jennings and Kelvin Hayden returned to provide veteran presence but the team is in sore need of some young playmakers. The beauty is the 2014 NFL draft is quite rich in corner talent. Two names that would certainly interest them are Pierre Desir and Bashaud Breeland. Desir is a small school prospect from Lindenwood who emerged early in the pre-draft process. He has the size, length and athleticism the top corners have along with surprising fluidity and tenacity in coverage. His lack of polish will land him in second or third round but the talent is clearly there. Breeland comes from the more established Clemson and has quietly worked his way up draft boards. He’s still raw in a lot of areas but the kid is tough, tackles well and shows plenty of ability in coverage.
With these moves the Chicago Bears defense could make more than just a modest improvement in 2014.