A number of teams are hinted to have interest in moving down during the upcoming 2014 NFL draft. Will the Chicago Bears be one of them, and should they?
Aaron Donald is likely the biggest roadblock to a move down
GM Phil Emery barely hid his intentions during the Senior Bowl and scouting combine events when he said a number of quality offensive playmakers should be available when the Chicago Bears pick at #14 on May 8th. It’s clear he wouldn’t mind collecting a couple extra picks to continue the remodeling of what was the worst Bears defense of the modern era. The problem isn’t whether the Bears want to. It’s whether they should. This marks the first off-season since 2008 that the team has had a pick in the top 15. There is a real chance to land a difference-maker on defense, and most fans can see one star rising above the rest. His name is Aaron Donald. Indeed the Pitt defensive tackle has lit draft boards on fire thanks to his outstanding 2013 season followed by freakish performances at the Senior Bowl and combine. His explosion and quickness make him the best interior pass rusher in 2014 NFL draft and a perfect fit at the notable three-technique position in the Bears defense. The question at hand is can they envision getting him if they move down from the 14th pick? An overview of the board suggests that is unlikely since the Dallas Cowboys, who also badly need tackle help, select just a few spots later at #16. So it what will determine any sort of move is how much the scouts believe Donald can succeed at the next level. If it’s Pro Bowl worthy, any ideas of a trade must end.
Calvin Pryor and Kyle Fuller among realistic options after drop
However, the fact of the matter is Chicago did not fix their defense in free agency. They merely established the groundwork. The additions of Lamarr Houston and Willie Young at defensive end were quality additions, as was Ryan Mundy at safety. Together with special teams standouts Jordan Senn and M.D. Jennings the defense has gotten younger and more athletic. Yet they still don’t have a true core of talent yet. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman will return for 2014 but they are the last remnants of the previous core. If the Bears are to take that next step towards respectability again, they need playmakers at every level to compliment Houston up front. That is why the secondary might get another big influx. If Chicago were to move down they would still have realistic options open to them at both cornerback and safety. Virginia Tech corner Kyle Fuller fits their profiles. He’s tough, physical, smart and athletic. Then there is Louisville safety Calvin Pryor who brings a punch and attitude to the game, not to mention underrated range and instinct in coverage. Either would make a fine addition to the defense, especially with the bonus of extra picks later on.
Phil Emery must know it about talent and not one missing piece for defense
The 2014 NFL draft is not about that missing piece for the Chicago Bears. They are a defense that won’t be fixed by acquiring one big player. They need frontline talent but also depth. To do that they need more picks. Phil Emery recognizes that and clearly isn’t hiding from his desire to move down. There are obstacles to be sure, but if the situation falls their way the Bears should be able to make a play for more help later on.