Any fan of the Chicago Bears knows to expect surprises during the NFL draft. So what are a few that can happen this time around?
Anthony Barr going at #14
Of all the names on top of most NFL draft boards heading into May, Anthony Barr is one that just hasn’t registered much with Chicago fans. Why should it? The young man spent his college career playing outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme whereas the Bears run primarily out of a 4-3. Besides, many experts have him going before the 14th pick anyway. Still, the possibility remains that he could slip, and if he does the Bears will be in a quandary. Barr, on the surface is not a fit for their scheme. Yet he is considered one of the elite athletes in the 2014 class. He’s fast, fluid, with great length and power that has many thinking he’s the second most talented pass rusher in the country behind Jadeveon Clowney. He certainly has the frame to bulk up and add weight to play defensive end and would make an intriguing understudy for All-Pro Jared Allen. Barr himself has said he has absolutely no problems making the switch if asked.
Phil Emery taking a running back in the third round
Michael Bush is gone, cut during the main free agency period. Now Matt Forte is really the only experienced running back on the roster and is 28-years old coming off a season in which he had over 360 touches. That is dangerous living for a team that uses his position as much as the Chicago Bears do under Marc Trestman. That is why it shouldn’t shock anybody if they decide to go after some young help as early as third round. Current projections have talents like Bishop Sankey, Jeremy Hill and Terrance West all possibly being available around that time. Each of those players would fit the run-receive requirements of the Bears offense and have future promise as feature backs.
Marc Trestman getting his quarterback in the third round
Yes, yes, yes. Jay Cutler is the starter for the foreseeable future. Fine. That doesn’t mean the Bears are settled at the position. Cutler hasn’t completed a full season since 2009 and his backup went from Josh McCown to Jordan Palmer. McCown was a veteran with starting experience and a great locker room presence. Palmer has thrown five passes of live football in his career. Chicago can’t afford to put all their eggs in that basket. They need another body to increase the depth and competition, and some fans might say possibly push Cutler to earn that $126 million. Based on what happens in the first two rounds and how the team is run by a head coach known for his quarterback specialty, it shouldn’t shock anybody if they find a talent they like and take him as early as the third round.
No wide receivers going in all seven rounds
This statement wouldn’t have carried much weight at the beginning of the month but after Eric Weems accepted a pay cut and the Chicago Bears brass brought in veteran Josh Morgan, the wide receiver position looked loaded up. They have their two stars in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery with a log jam of players competing for that third spot in Morgan, Domenik Hixon and second-year man Marquess Wilson. Throw in Weems and Chris Williams as special teams talents and the Bears have a nice blend of youth, experience and talent going for them. That is why this NFL draft could not see a receiver land in Chicago.
Jace Amaro or Troy Niklas going in the second round
Tight end however is a different story. Martellus Bennett was a great pickup last season in free agency and is locked in as the starter but the depth behind him is questionable at best. Dante Rosario is a special teams guy who offers limited help in other areas. Matthew Mulligan is primarily a blocker and fan favorite Fendi Onobun is as yet an unproven project. The Chicago Bears have to think about what might happen if Bennett goes down. They really could use another talent at the position and the second round should be loaded with options including Texas Tech star Jace Amaro and big, athletic specimen Troy Niklas from Notre Dame.