September 2, 2012; Louisville, KY USA; Louisville Cardinals safety Calvin Pryor (25) breaks up a pass intended for Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Demarco Robinson (9) during the second half of play at Papa John

The Chicago Bears Will Eye Two Positions In NFL Draft

Narrowing the focus is always paramount for teams heading into the NFL draft.  For the Chicago Bears that was their goal, and it seems they are set up perfectly.

Chris Conte and Ryan Mundy aren’t ideal safety options

The retention of Charles Tillman alters the board for the Bears heading into the draft stretch.  Chicago now has both their veteran corners with him and Tim Jennings back in place for another year.  That means the corner position should be relatively stable in 2014 barring another catastrophic string of injuries.  Instead the focus should be on the safety position.  GM Phil Emery made a couple of additions through free agency and one of them was Ryan Mundy.  Primarily a reserve most of his career, 29-year old learned from some of the best in the business such as Antrel Rolle and Troy Polamalu.  He’s athletic with good range and very tough.  The other was M.D. Jennings who should compete with current starter Chris Conte but more likely is a special teams addition.  At present logic says a combination of Conte and Mundy would start opening day in September.  That isn’t a horrific tandem, but if the intention of the Chicago Bears is to get more dynamic on defense, that is not the ideal pairing they’ll want which is why it’s very likely both of them could see a rookie join the competition in the first round.  The 2014 class is rich with safeties and have some very intriguing options on Day One.

Likely Pick:  Calvin Pryor (Louisville)

Assistant defensive line coach Clint Hurtt came up from Louisville during the early part of the off-season where he was defensive coordinator.  He has inside knowledge of top prospects coming from that program and should have detailed memory of free safety Calvin Pryor.  The young man is already a physical player, showing the scrappiness to come downhill and tackle or deliver a fierce hit.  What is pushing him up draft boards is his growing range and potential in coverage.  Experts compare him to former Pro Bowler Bob Sanders.  If that is true, then Pryor fits the exact profile Emery and the Bears want in their defensive backs:  tough and athletic.

Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea are not dynamic interior men

With the primary focus of the free agency period being upgrading the defensive end position, the NFL draft has become about fortifying the probable loss of former Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton.  The Chicago Bears front office worked quickly to keep the position relatively stable by retaining veterans Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins on one-year deals.  Together with nose tackle Stephen Paea they form a serviceable group but certainly not a dynamic one.  Ratliff is 33-years old.  Collins is coming off a torn ACL and Paea battled turf toe all year in 2013.  Put simply the group is on shaky ground in terms of durability.  That is why the Bears have to seriously consider adding another body to the depth chart, somebody who can force defenses to commit extra blockers their way and take heat off their newly acquired defensive ends.

Likely Pick:  Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh)

This kid has set himself up perfectly.  No matter how much the scouts hold back their admiration for him due to his being undersized for the tackle position, he has constantly killed their doubts in one way or another.  He dominated most of 2013 for his team, showcasing some of the best explosion and quickness a defensive tackle has had in years.  That was soon followed by a near flawless Senior Bowl in which he often humiliated some of the best guards in the country.  It all then came together at the scouting combine where he posted top numbers among all the tackles including an incredible 4.65 40-yard dash at 285 lbs.  Aaron Donald is unquestionably a first round pick and a perfect fit at the three-technique position to replace Melton.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Aaron Donald Calvin Pryor Chicago Bears Chris Conte Jeremiah Ratliff NFL Draft Ryan Mundy

  • Goodshepherd Americanbullies

    Donald round 1 , safety or corner round 2 , safety or corner round 3

    • Erik Lambert

      That seems to be the general consensus among most fans.

      • LaughHammer

        It would be nice to have a Mark Carrier type back there roaming around again,or even a Fencik or Mike Brown type again.

        • Erik Lambert

          I am in complete agreement.

  • LaughHammer

    As an organization the Bears have never really put a high priority on safety in the draft.

    • Erik Lambert

      Different times and a different GM. I’m willing to bet Emery changes that.

  • Charles Spencer King

    Here’s my peanuts from the gallery:

    1 (14) My preference is to trade back, however let’s say the Bears can’t I am hoping Donald will be there and lets assume he is. Who would I take instead of him out of players who could drop (not that I think they will).Gilbert, Watkins,, suppose all three are gone, I’d take Pryor, Dennard, Dix, Hegeman in that order. The only players I would trade up for is if Mack,(by 7th) Robinson or Matthews were they not gone by 9th. (and that is very doubtful)

    2) Assuming the Bears get a DT or S in round 1, I take Zach Mettenberger, In front of him I would take the following if they were available Carr, Jernigan, Hageman, or Nix.

    3) I take either Swanson or Martin at center

    4) Here I’d look for the best CB on the board that could also play safety and if I did not get a center in round 3 I’d trump those with Richburg we he still there.

    5) Linebacker or another cornerback/ safety, or DT

    6) Same as 5

    7) Fullback

    • Erik Lambert

      I’m in agreement with the idea of trading back as well, Charles. The problem is I don’t think Donald is getting past Dallas at #17. There is a chance but unless the Cowboys manage to land Melton not a good one. The way I see it they would have to move back to the late teens to still have a reasonable shot at the safeties and Dennard. Gilbert will be gone before #14. So if they were to be really aggressive with a trade (like with Cleveland at #26 or San Francisco at #30) I would target players like Jernigan, Kyle Fuller, and Hageman. If I were in charge here is how I would do it.

      1. Trade back to Jets who will be eyeing Eric Ebron and Mike Evans for a third round pick. Then select Calvin Pryor at #18 unless he gone then take Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
      2. Kelcy Quarles – DT – South Carolina
      3. Pierre Desir, Bashaud Breeland or Keith McGill at cornerback
      4. Zach Mettenberger, A.J. McCarron or Aaron Murray at quarterback
      5. Justin Ellis – DT – Lousiana Tech
      6. Storm Johnson – RB – Baylor
      6. Max Bullough – MLB – Michigan State

      • Charles Spencer King

        We are pretty close to being on the same page for round one..:-) Murray could make it to 4 and maybe AJ, …….Zack, I’d bet the ranch will be gone. I think Melton is gone. It’s so tough with a trade when we’re in the dark who with and what we get for it…..and how that changes everything. Quarles seems to be a bit more of a project than I would like but I like Ellis in the 5th. Rock on !

        • Erik Lambert

          I agree Melton is out, He’s either a Seahawk or a Cowboy. I understand the reservations about Quarles but he has more long-term upside as pro than Donald does. Donald is already a disruptor but his physical ceiling won’t go much higher. Ellis in the 5th makes perfect sense because they need somebody to push Paea at the nose tackle position.

  • Eddie Currie

    I’d really love to see the Bears take the best available talent on the board. I feel Gilbert would be the only DB worth considering at 14 if he’s there, which you don’t think he will be. It seems like there will be quality talent at Corner and Safety in rounds two and three available, so save for Gilbert, I’d like to see the Bears pass on Corner and Safety in round one and focus on their front seven. I’m not sure if all the talk about the Bears and a DT in round one has just become redundant to me, but I’d actually like to see them pass at that position if there is better talent on the board. Briggs and D.J. Williams are our best linebackers. They are also getting old and you can’t discount they’re injury history from last season. Losing either one would cause our linebacking core to be pretty dreadful. Same could be said about losing either Houston or Young at DE for any length of time; it would cause our pass rush to be non-existent. If Justin Gilbert, C.J Mosely, Kony Ealy, and Anthony Barr are all still on the board along with Aaron Donald, do you see the Bears taking any of them before a DT? I feel taking a DT later in the draft like Quarles has more upside than using your first round pick on one in this scenario. DB’s like Jimmie Ward, Marcus Roberson, Lamarcus Joyner, Deone Bucannon, Dion Bailey, Stanley Jean Baptiste, and Antone Exum can all be had later.

    • Erik Lambert

      I would’ve said absolutely to Ealy and Mosley not too long ago but at #14 I’m not sure. Mosley would look great in the middle for the Bears but his long-term health concerns are a problem. Ealy was my primary pick before free agency and I wouldn’t mind if they took him even after getting Houston and Young. Barr meanwhile is a wild card. He’s a great athlete who can do a lot of things well but he seems more like a natural 3-4 linebacker to me (terrible visions of Shea McClellin!). To me Gilbert or Donald would be the two I would target, followed closely by Calvin Pryor of Louisville. If neither is there I would trade back to collect more picks and just take the best defender on the board be it Mosley, Ealy, Dennard or whoever. My current mock has them trading back with the 49ers to #30 and still getting Donald though I doubt that actually happens. Even so I expect Ealy, Kyle Fuller, Timmy Jernigan, RaShede Hageman and Stephon Tuitt to still be there.

      • Eddie Currie

        Thanks for the reply! The more I think about it the more I love the idea of the Bears trading back in the draft. If they can move back with the Jets, still grab Ealy, and pick up a third round pick or so I’d be pretty excited with the move. Then they could trade back up into the late first and also grab Donald if you have him at 30 in your mock or Mosely, haha. Just asking because I’m curious, what do you think it would cost the Bears to move up in the draft to acquire Clowney or Mack? Do you think either player would be worth it in the long run or would giving up the picks be a pretty big mistake?

        • Erik Lambert

          More than they can pay. Mack and Clowney are almost certain to go in the top five, which would likely take the Bears 1st and 2nd round picks this year, a 1st next year and probably a 2nd next year as well AT LEAST. We have to remember the Bears already made a big trade when they acquired Cutler from the Broncos. They aren’t in a position to make that kind of move. The 49ers on the other hand are. Their roster is stacked and ready. They just need another difference-maker to help get them over the top, which is why the Bears should be there to collect the picks they throw into a deal. Clowney and Mack are very good players, but even they can’t save the defense alone and the Bears just aren’t close enough to get them.