Chris Conte being out until possibly the regular season has altered the NFL draft landscape for the Chicago Bears. Does this further the idea of the team moving back via trade?
M.D. Jennings hardly adequate insurance for Conte
Conte being out for the next 4-5 months following shoulder surgery won’t cause Bears fans to lose much sleeper. After all it wasn’t like he was the backbone of the defense but considering he was a key player for an already struggling position group, the news is not the most welcome. Put simply the Bears have nobody of note to replace him aside from recent free agent signing M.D. Jennings. The former Green Bay Packer started 26 games over the past two seasons but recorded just one interception and deflected just three passes. He’s hardly an adequate fill-in for Conte, let alone an upgrade.
Phil Emery needs more young blood for defense in NFL Draft
The easy answer to this question is for the Chicago Bears front office, led by GM Phil Emery to find the replacement in the NFL draft. The problem is simply taking a safety in the first round might not be conducive to the strategy Emery has planned. After all, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is the best name on the board at the free position and several experts believe he will be gone before the Bears pick at #14. That would leave Louisville safety Calvin Pryor as the last true first round talent on the board. While his ability is unquestionable, Pryor projects much better as a strong safety given his toughness, strength and ability to tackle and deliver fierce hits. Besides that the Bears have lingering needs at defensive tackle, corner and even linebacker as well. By shifting their primary focus to replacing Conte it could force them to miss a better player at another position. This is where trading back might help the situation.
Extra Day 2 pick would allow Bears to fill two positions instead of one
The key to trading back in any NFL draft is about sacrificing favorable position for more picks. Sitting at #14 the Chicago Bears have the luxury of a choice. Based on projections they have an excellent chance to land a difference-maker if they stay put, but also might find some teams interested in moving up with a deep draft class waiting in the later rounds. They could move back, get a solid talent such as Timmy Jernigan at defensive tackle or Kyle Fuller at corner and have an extra third or even second round pick waiting for them on Day 2. That would allow Phil Emery to then address both the safety issue and whichever other key defensive position he deems necessary. Top options like Marqueston Huff and Brock Vereen should be there for the Bears to scoop up in the second or third rounds while at the same time the defensive tackle and corner positions will also have gotten some needed attention.
Chris Conte was expected to at least keep the safety position stable for the Chicago Bears heading into the draft. That is no longer the case, and a subsequent move should be expected.