Chicago Bears NFL Draft Targets: Round 1

It’s time to step back and take a full inventory of whom the Chicago Bears could conceivably target in the upcoming NFL Draft.  Here are the first round options.

Aaron Donald – DT – Pitt

Hands down the best interior pass rusher in the draft.  Aaron Donald is a quick, explosive defensive tackle who is terrific at shooting gaps and making plays in the backfield.  He is undersized and lacking ideal length, which could make him a liability against the run.  Yet it’s hard to overlook his disruptive ability.

Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State

While Donald is a pure pass rusher, Timmy Jernigan is more of a hybrid type.  His best trait is stopping the run.  His size and strength coupled with good lateral quickness made him extremely difficult to move out of the way.  He also has some pass rush upside but as of now he’s considered a run stuffer first.

Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State

The scouting combine proved beyond a doubt that Justin Gilbert is the fastest and most athletic cornerback in the NFL draft.  The Chicago Bears haven’t taken a corner in the first round since Walt Harris in 1996.  Gilbert has enough potential on defense and on special teams to break that streak.

Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State

By that same token the Bears should also look at Darqueze Dennard.  He’s not quite the athlete Gilbert is, but Dennard may be the better football player.  Receivers find it a tough task going against him and he’s also adept at making tackles and delivering hits.  He already carries himself like a pro with a great work ethic and high intelligence.

Kyle Fuller – CB – Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech corners have a reputation for being tough and physical.  Kyle Fuller upheld that tradition.  His size and grit allow him to be a serious force against the run while instincts and vision lend a helping hand in disrupting passes in coverage.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – FS – Alabama

Fans would have to dig even further to find the last time the Bears took a safety in the first round.  That would be 1991.  Ha Ha Clinton-Dix has the speed, range, instincts and size to become a Pro Bowl fixture on the back end, something Chicago hasn’t seen in years.

Calvin Pryor – FS – Louisville

Clinton-Dix is a sharp contrast to Calvin Pryor.  The Louisville product isn’t a pure centerfielder in coverage.  He’s more of a hybrid type.  His calling card is toughness, tackling and the ability to blitz.  His pass defense has improved but at present he’s more a box player first.  A real tone-setter.

C.J. Mosley – LB – Alabama

Linebacker is not a solved problem for the Chicago Bears defense.  They are still old at the position and despite their investments of Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene still looking for a young difference-maker.  C.J. Mosley can be that.  He’s tough, athletic, lengthy, fast and displays the kind of instincts and leadership that can command a defense for years.

Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA

It’s really hard to see it happening but there is an outside chance that Anthony Barr slips to the middle of the first round.  In which case the Bears would be in a dilemma.  While he’s more of a natural 3-4 outside linebacker, Barr is arguably the second-most gifted pass rusher in the 2014 NFL draft.  He has the frame to add bulk and possibly shift to defensive end.  In which case a future heir to Jared Allen would be on the roster.

Kony Ealy – DE – Missouri

Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young were fine additions to the defensive front for the Chicago Bears and pretty much fill their needs at end for 2014.  Still, there would be nothing wrong if they took Kony Ealy.  The Missouri product is big and athletic with advanced pass rush technique.  Once his strength improves he can become a fixture at right end.

Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina

At present it’s realistically a 95% chance the Bears go defense in the first two or three rounds.  However there is still a 5% possibility they target an offensive player at a certain position.  Eric Ebron would qualify.  Chicago could really use another weapon at tight end to team with Martellus Bennett and Ebron is a physical specimen with size and speed to go with great hands.  He would be yet another big, dynamic target for Jay Cutler.

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Tags: Aaron Donald Anthony Barr C.j. Mosley Calvin Pryor Chicago Bears Darqueze Dennard Eric Ebron Ha Ha Clinton-dix Justin Gilbert Kony Ealy Kyle Fuller NFL Draft Timmy Jernigan

  • Jake

    I think u could add Louis nix on there I could see an instance where chicago gets tempted by nyj or San Francisco so they could jump up an get a receiver in the top 14 then I think Donald would be gone and I’m just not a fan of Jernigan besides the knee scares nix seems to be a solid pick, it may not happen but he’s worth putting on the draft board in my opinion

    • Erik Lambert

      Nix just doesn’t fit the Bears scheme, Jake. He’s an excellent run stuffer, but that’s about it. Everything Emery has done to this point has been acquiring players who are versatile. Lamarr Houston, Jeremiah Ratliff, Willie Young and Israel Idonije are all guys who tough against the run but are also able to rush the passer. Nix is not that kind of player. I just don’t think the Bears should draft a guy for the sole purpose of fixing a problem that might already be fixed.

      • Johnathan Wood

        the run D was only an issue last year after all the DTs and LBs got hurt. With a healthy-ish DL and Shea McClellin no longer a run liability at DE, I do not expect it to be a problem this year.

        • Erik Lambert

          My feeling as well.

  • Deanna777

    Trade down for more picks, and get a DT, a CB and a Safety, all could contribute this year. Safety to start for Conte. Run stuffing DT, we haven’t had one since Ted Washington. The CB can play the slot and learn. The rest of the draft LB, RB, TE. If we can’t trade back in the first, try to move up from the second round, use picks from next year to move up. We can win now.

    • Erik Lambert

      Everything depends on who’s available, Deanna. If there is a slew of solid defenders still on the board at #14, I’d definitely trade back because there’s a good chance one of them is bound to fall down to you. The thing you have to remember is that run stuffing DTs are much easier to find later in a draft than an interior pass rusher. That is why Donald makes more sense. The Bears could easily double up in the 4th or 5th round and take a DeAndre Coleman or Justin Ellis, two guys who are big, strong anchors against the run.

      The more I heard the more I agree that corner and safety have to go early. The corner depth is strong but the talent gap between the first three or four names and the field drops considerably. The same can be said for the top two safeties. Personally, I’d go Gilbert or Clinton-Dix first and have Donald or Mosley as my fail-safes. Then I’d target whichever positions I missed in the 2nd and 3rd rounds. This draft must be about acquiring the best talent possible because the roster is already equipped to compete. We have a chance to not only get better in 2014 but for years to come.

  • DiscountPCRepair SATX

    Clinton-Dix, and then Rashede Hagemann or Kelcy Quarles…

    or Justin Gilbert and then Buchanon

    • Erik Lambert

      The second scenario sounds more plausible to me at this point. I think the Bears stand a better chance of finding a quality defensive tackle in the 3rd round than they do a corner or safety.

      • DiscountPCRepair SATX

        The MORE I think about this, I too am liking the Gilbert-Buchanon scenario.

        Somewhere along the way in my dreams the BEARS also manage to nab Dri Archer and AJ McCarron, but then again, maybe that is just me.

        • Erik Lambert

          I’d prefer Tom Savage to McCarron. Just as tall and bigger. Way better arm, tough and by all accounts very smart. I think he would be a great backup and potential insurance for Jay. Archer would be an interesting get but I’m a little hesitant with him. Fast beyond belief, sure, but also suffers from durability issues. Not sure he has the body to handle an NFL pounding.

          At the end of the day I would not be disappointed with a Gilbert-Bucannon tandem.