Aaron Donald was a favored target for the Chicago Bears in the NFL draft. Now they have to add him to pair with Jared Allen.
Henry Melton and Julius Peppers losses almost already covered by Bears
Going into the off-season all anybody could talk about was how Chicago planned to cover the possible losses of their two primary mainstays on the defensive line in Julius Peppers and Henry Melton. It certainly stung for Bears faithful when Peppers went to Green Bay while Melton reunited with Rod Marinelli in Dallas. Apparently these losses, which might’ve crippled other teams, didn’t phase GM Phil Emery. Carefully and methodically he began to enact a plan to rebuild a defensive front that finished dead last against the run and rushing the passer. Most expected the additions of Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, two young, quality defensive ends would be the primary maneuvers for the Chicago Bears front office as they looked ahead to the draft in May. Then, rather curiously, news broke the team had adjusted the new contract of quarterback Jay Cutler to clear up $4 million in salary cap space. Nobody understood why. Chicago was comfortably under the cap at the time, sitting around $7 million available. With no rumor in the winds it was puzzling why they decided to create more space. Experts believed it was merely insurance space for the months to come. Apparently not. Just days later the news struck that the team had reached an agreement on a four-year deal worth $32 million with defensive end Jared Allen. The move brings an All-Pro pass rusher to Chicago. Allen has posted double digit sacks in eight of his ten seasons. More importantly though, it creates an outstanding opportunity for the team come May.
Donald is the best interior rusher in NFL draft
Even before the Allen signing most experts saw the Chicago Bears as a perfect fit for Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the NFL draft. The loss of Henry Melton created a void at the three-technique position, which is the primary spot for the interior pass rusher. Donald, unquestionably, is the very best of the 2014 class at that job. His explosion off the line and quickness showed up on tape in every game last year. It was a big reason why he had 11 sacks and a staggering 28 tackles for a loss. Nobody was better at getting into the opposing backfield. So it’s not hard to see why the Bears would be interested. Suddenly though the addition of Allen changes things. Chicago has ever so slightly shifted from wanting to take Donald to feeling morally obligated to take him. Can one imagine what a front of Allen, Lamarr Houston, Jeremiah Ratliff and Donald could do? That’s not even counting the highly underrated signing of Willie Young. Chicago would not only improve their run defense, as was the primary goal but they could undergo the largest turnaround of any team in the league in terms of defensive ranking. Young and Houston led the league in pass disruption stats last year despite not posting many sacks while Allen had 11.5. Throwing an explosive cannon ball like Donald into that mix borders on being unfair.
The Chicago Bears wanted to rebuild their defensive line to respectability. They succeeded. Now they must make it into terror. Adding Aaron Donald will do it.