Dec 26, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers defensive lineman Aaron Donald (97) during the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ford Field. Pittsburgh Panthers defeated Bowling Green Falcons 30-27. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bears Schedule Draws Them Closer to Aaron Donald


Pundits will always say the NFL schedule does not dictate the draft.  For the Chicago Bears that cannot and should not be true.  Looking at how things shape up, more and more they are drawn to getting Aaron Donald if he’s available.

Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady among schedule road blocks

Lack of pass rush killed the Bears last season, often at the worst possible time.  Losing Henry Melton to a torn ACL in week 3 had a lot to do with that, but so did a sudden decline from Julius Peppers.  That is why GM Phil Emery made wholesale changes to the defensive line that included signing Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young.  Their additions solidify the defensive end position while the re-signing of Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins give the tackle area some stability.  However, Emery himself has said in order to bring that scheme together they need a proven pass rusher at the three-technique “under” tackle spot where Melton played.  That is why draft experts continue to link them to Pitt standout Aaron Donald.  Based on his tape and workouts he is by far the best interior pass rusher in the 2014 class.  His explosion and quickness are rare despite some size limitations.  Nobody can match his ability to shoot gaps and blow plays up in the backfield.  Simple talent is one reason to take him, but Chicago has another.

That is their NFL schedule.  Analysts would have some believe they actually have one of the slightly easier roads to the playoffs than other teams but anybody with eyes can see that’s dangerous thinking.  The Chicago Bears will have to face some of the best quarterbacks in the game throughout the season including Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Tom Brady at the top of the list.  That also involves Cam Newton, Matt Ryan and Colin Kaepernick.  Can the Bears really hope to conquer any of those guys without a consistent pass rush?  The answer is obvious.

Justin Gilbert and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix have talent but not experience

Here’s another thing to consider regarding the Donald Question.  Veteran quarterbacks, especially the best ones like Brady and Rodgers absolutely love playing against rookie defensive backs.  Nine times out of ten a rookie isn’t disciplined enough to handle the speed of the game and the savvy of a top quarterback to pick the precise moments to attack them.  Justin Gilbert is the most athletically gifted cornerback in the 2014 NFL draft and has a bright future.  That doesn’t dismiss the fact he’s not a polished gem.  He has loads of upside but can he help the Bears in 2014?  Probably not.  The same goes for free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.  Physically speaking he has more speed, range and instincts than anybody else at his position in the draft.  That’s all fine and good but he’s still a rookie and his production at Alabama doesn’t reflect the ability he has.  Aaron Donald has everything.  He has the talent, the work ethic and the production to prove he can contribute immediately.

That is what the Chicago Bears need if they’re going to complete their mission of reaching the playoffs this season.

Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Aaron Donald Aaron Rodgers Chicago Bears Drew Brees Ha Ha Clinton-dix Justin Gilbert Tom Brady

  • Jake

    Iv been hearing about this size limitation and I was a critic myself all I could think of is were wasting another first round on a undersized player like McClellan but Donald is 1inch and 9 lbs smaller than Timmy Jernigan who they say is ideal size for the 3 tech

    • Erik Lambert

      Listen. Size can be hammered on and on in regards to every position. Yet nobody questions the ability of Darren Sproles. Russell Wilson is under 6’0″. If a guy passes the eye test his size should not matter as much. Donald passes the eye test.

      • bobportcharlotte

        I continue to prefer Hageman over Donald if the Bears should not trade down or CB Gilbert or S Pryor or S Clinton-Dix. Each of those four will upgrade the defense sooner than later!

        • Erik Lambert

          I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised with any of those picks.

        • brian mckendry

          Hageman has done absolutely nothing at Minnesota, major project ,he is only a combine freak, I want a real football player, not someone who is just a athlete, hopefully Donald is there, and he is close to the size of geno atkins but is faster and had better tape, benched more also, he is the best disruptive DT in the draft, quit questioning the obvious, people seem to want a worse player because he is bigger

          • bobportcharlotte

            What you said here about Hageman could have been said about Kyle Long last year. Actually, with more justification than for Hageman. It is really interesting how the bandwagon expands for certain players the closer the draft gets. Donald was originally projected to be a 3rd round pick after his season ended. Jernigen was being projected as a top ten pick a couple of months as the top DT in this draft. Now he has been forgotten and everyone, but me, is touting Donald. I love it!

  • Dr. Johnny Nacho

    DT depth will be there in the second round…..Safety play will not.

    • Erik Lambert

      I don’t know. They might stand a good chance of getting Bucannon or Ward.

  • John Colvin

    Why settle for second round safety talent that drops off significantly after Pryor & Clinton-Dix are gone? We are in perfect position to make a statement in our division and the entire nfl. the monsters brought our pass rush back to where it should be and now to fix are safety position by drafting Clinton-Dix in the first and maybe taking Ahmad Dixon out of Baylor in the second round (if brooks isn’t there of course). DT can wait till the third round if necessary and I desperately think it is due to our past safety play. Mundy is good don’t get me wrong but he isn’t starter material in my eyes so we need two starters from this draft and the sooner the better if you ask me due to what talent is available.

    • Erik Lambert

      The thing about this argument is it’s right, but so is the Donald one. He can help the Bears and so can taking a first round safety or even a first round corner. Every decision is the right decision. The key is finding out which one will yield maximum results both short and long-term.

    • Jake

      Put some deone buchannon tape on I think he is better and has a higher ceiling coverage wise than Pryor they both bring physicality to the table and I think the bears should take Donald or Gilbert then hope buchannon is there or trade up for him like we did with Jeffrey in 12′

      • Erik Lambert

        I really believe the Bears are thinking trade back if possible and grab Bucannon. Then they can use the 2nd and 3rd rounds to load up at corner and D-tackle.

    • Jake

      However I would not be upset if we walked away with Pryor in the first either way the bears get Better this offseason and we need to hit good in the draft we have a rough schedule this year but we can win these games like Bree’s in chicago in December

    • Raymond Lara

      I think we can get a game-changing 3-Tech DT in Aaron Donald in the 1st round and then trade up in the 2nd round to get Jimmy Ward. According to several experts, he probably would have been the 1st ranked safety in this draft class if he played for Alabama instead of Northern Illinois. He runs a faster 40 time than Clinton-Dix and Pryor. He has the ball-hawking skills of Clinton-Dix (he was more productive than C-D in passes defended, interceptions, and forced fumbles) and he is comparable to Pryor in terms of the toughness and tackling ability. Think about the last time the Bears traded up in the 2nd round to get someone (Alshon Jeffery)… We can hit a homerun in getting both Donald and Ward with the 1st two picks. Deone Buchanon would be a good consolation prize if Ward gets picked before us.
      Pierre Desire (6’1″ CB, 3-time D2 All-American) would be a great snag in the 3rd round. His mannerisms, body-size, and even personality all make him a younger version of Charles Tillman.

  • BARFO

    If they can’t solidify the D-line first, then it won’t matter who they get for Safety/CB, they’ll all still be running round clueless like last year. DT should be their first selection.

    • Erik Lambert

      Well if Donald is there it will be VERY HARD to pass on him.

  • Dewight Marice Mitchell

    i heard that Aaron Donald Could Go As High As No. 6 Overall?