Henry Melton ended his Chicago Bears career as most expected: by joining his old coach with the Dallas Cowboys. Here is why the move actually helps his old team.
Addition makes defensive end and safety top Dallas Cowboys draft priorities
If this were happening a year ago it would be a depressed atmosphere among Bears fans at the news that Melton joined the Cowboys. A year ago he was a Pro Bowler coming off a six-sack campaign. What a difference 12 months can make. This time around Melton was coming off a torn ACL that knocked him out of for 13 games last season. On top of that he has a rather dubious arrest for assault hanging over him as well. Yet, despite it all the Dallas Cowboys accomplished a big goal, which was improving their defensive line at the tackle position. The departure of Jason Hatcher really left that area in a bad way. Provided his knee is sound, Melton should return to form under the tutelage of his old defensive coach Rod Marinelli, now defensive coordinator for the Cowboys. One other thing the signing does is it alters the landscape for them heading into the NFL draft. Nearly every expert believed Dallas had to take a defensive tackle in the first round. By adding Melton that need no longer applies. A legitimate argument now exists that the Cowboys have bigger issues to resolve at defensive end and safety. The exits of DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer has left the end position dangerously thin, making a player like Kony Ealy of Missouri very enticing with the 16th pick. Or they could look to add a needed playmaker on the back end as well, perhaps by picking Ha Ha Clinton-Dix of Alabama or Calvin Pryor of Louisville. The point is defensive tackle has dropped down the priority list for Dallas, and it could serve the Chicago Bears draft plan very well.
Phil Emery could get Timmy Jernigan and Aaron Donald after trade back
One of the primary hopes for a high number of Bears fans is that GM Phil Emery follows through on his previous hints and looks to trade back from the 14th selection to later in the first round and get extra picks. The problem is they still have unresolved issues of their own at defensive tackle, and projections hint that the two best options available, Timmy Jernigan of Florida State and Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh will both be there. If they were to move back even a few spaces, say to #18 for example, it greatly diminished their chances of getting either player because the Cowboys sat at #16 eager for a defensive tackle as well. Suddenly with this Melton signing, Emery has watched his odds of landing Donald or Jernigan after a trade back go up considerably. After all, nearly every team from picks #15 to #23 run a 3-4 defensive scheme, which Jernigan and Donald aren’t considered ideal fits for. Dallas was the only real obstacle on the board. Henry Melton has changed that. Now the Bears can feel a little more confident about gaining some extra picks and still getting a quality player that fills a big need on their defense.
Sometimes losing a player creates a bigger gain down the road. The Chicago Bears could learn that in May.