One of the more interesting teams to watch on draft day will be the Chicago Bears. Following free agency, here is their latest complete 2014 NFL mock draft.
1st Round: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama
Several fans might clamor for Louisville safety Calvin Pryor instead but one very important point came to my attention regarding him by Mike Mayock of NFL Network. He said Pryor projects more as a strong safety in the pros. With the signing of Ryan Mundy it would seem the Bears have filled the strong side need. That leaves bringing in somebody to compete and probably supplant Chris Conte at free safety. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the best in the draft. He’s big, lengthy, athletic and has the ideal range to cover a lot of ground and the instincts to play the football. He can become that center fielder Chicago has lacked for too long.
2nd Round: Kelcy Quarles – DT – South Carolina
Apparently the Chicago Bears brass had a lot of interest in Kelcy Quarles according to his own interviews, and that’s not a surprise. The South Carolina defensive tackle has everything they want: size, length, power and an ability to shoot gaps and get after the quarterback. His 9.5 sacks in 2013 far outstripped his much more hyped teammate Jadeveon Clowney. There are still some things he needs to work on but there is no question Quarles has the makings of a great pro.
3rd Round: Bashaud Breeland – CB – Clemson
In his own words Phil Emery stated the toughness of a defense is measured in its cornerbacks, which is why the team brought back Charles Tillman. That doesn’t negate the fact they need young blood at the position. Bashaud Breeland is a late riser in many 2014 NFL mock draft boards but it’s not a surprise. The Clemson corner has the length, athleticism, range and tenacity to match with big receivers. He also lends a big hand in run support. His only big issue is working on technique.
4th Round: Aaron Murray – QB – Georgia
One can bet Marc Trestman and Phil Emery worked hard on a free agency plan to help the defense enough to where they could get away with taking an offensive player in the middle or late rounds of the draft. Finding a backup quarterback must be one of them since Chicago hasn’t signed anybody on the market besides Jordan Palmer, their third stringer from last year. That is why getting Aaron Murray in the fourth round could be a coup. The Georgia quarterback holds almost every SEC passing record. He’s got a good arm, makes good decisions and lit up some of the best defenses in college football. If not for an ACL tear late in the 2013 he would go higher. He’s a great backup option now, and perhaps can become more with time.
5th Round: Max Bullough – ILB – Michigan State
Later round picks are about taking chances on upside. Max Bullough certainly qualifies. Most remember him for an untimely suspension before Michigan State played in the Rose Bowl. That could affect his stock but it doesn’t erase the fact he was one of the best players on the best defense in college football. Bullough has the preferred size at 6’4″ for a middle linebacker. He’s extremely intelligent and based on being a two-time captain, obviously a leader. Running at him doesn’t work much since he diagnoses so well and plays physical. He’s a limited athlete, but for the fifth round he’s a terrific find.
6th Round (from TB): Storm Johnson – RB – UCF
Michael Bush was expected to be a salary cap casualty and reality soon came to pass. That leave a big hole behind Matt Forte at running back. Is Michael Ford the heir apparent? Hard to say. What is clear is the Chicago Bears know the position is highly coveted in the Marc Trestman offense, especially players who are versatile. Storm Johnson of UCF qualifies. Obviously he’s not an elite talent but the kid showed he can beat defenses in a variety of ways. He’s big and strong as a downhill runner with the vision to cut it back for big gains. His ability to catch passes creates versatility, something demanded in the Bears offense. He should fit right in.
6th Round: Deandre Coleman – DT – Cal
The modern NFL is all about versatility and doing many things well, but once in awhile it’s not a bad thing to have a player who does one thing well. The Bears were horrific against the run on defense last season, prompting Emery to make a declaration that the team plans to get bigger up front. One area that hasn’t gotten much attention is nose tackle. Stephen Paea was anything but reliable last year thanks to a nagging turf toe problem. He is not a guarantee by any means and could use some competition. Deandre Coleman out of Cal is not a pass rushing threat but the kid is a load at 314 lbs and has plenty of power to take on and split double teams. He’s a two-down guy, but could prove most valuable against Adrian Peterson, Eddie Lacy and Reggie Bush.