The prospects have been examined and re-examined for the Chicago Bears heading towards the 2014 NFL draft. It’s time to figure out exactly what they should do when the clock starts.
#1 – Take Aaron Donald
The only thing rarer than a good pass rusher is a good interior pass rusher. Aaron Donald has silenced all his critics. Every box is checked from game tape to the combine. This kid can play defensive tackle and he fits perfectly with the Bears scheme.
#2 – Take Calvin Pryor
One thing Bears safeties have lacked the past five plus seasons is an attitude and swagger. Louisville safety Calvin Pryor does not lack that. He hits hard but also tackles and showed marked improvement as the 2013 season went on with his coverage skills.
#3 - Take Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Chris Conte had his chances and blew it. Now he’s undergoing surgery, leaving the his safety spot wide open. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wouldn’t just replace him. From a talent perspective, he would make a significant upgrade, particularly in coverage.
#4 – Take C.J. Mosley
It wasn’t the main reason but anybody could see the loss of Brian Urlacher hurt the defense in 2013. They were at their best with somebody who can patrol the field and make the calls. C.J. Mosley has the range, has the toughness and has the intangibles to fill all those needs for this rebuilding unit.
#5 – Take Anthony Barr
Anybody who tells you there are too many pass rushers on a team is a person that needs to be committed to Shady Acres mental hospital in Tampa (anybody who gets that reference is my new best friend). In all seriousness, Anthony Barr is so athletically gifted that he could play numerous positions if he applied himself. Ideally he would make a great understudy for Jared Allen as their next long-term #1 defensive end.
#6 – Take Justin Gilbert
Phil Emery showed Chicago Bears fans that he favors athletes from the word go. Cornerback is not in need of starters but it does need young blood badly. Justin Gilbert has every tool in the cupboard from size to length to speed and agility that makes him a problem for quarterbacks to throw at.
#7 – Trade Back: take Kyle Fuller
There comes a point when a team must decide that the players they feel are worth a certain pick are no longer available, at which point it’s time to trade back for more picks. While Gilbert is the most gifted athlete among the cornerbacks, Virginia Tech standout Kyle Fuller might be the best fit for the Bears defense. He’s big, strong, fluid and has enough speed to mirror receiver. His trump card is the ability to play the run.
Projected draft range: Picks 18-30
#8 – Trade Back: take Ra’Shede Hageman
Emery showed last season that he’s not afraid to take chances on an inexperienced player if he feels the physical ability is high enough, like he did with Kyle Long. Minnesota defensive tackle Ra’Shede Hageman is exactly that kind of player. Still learning his position, he’s raw and inconsistent. However, at 6’6″, 315 lbs he can move like a tight end and displays awesome power and quickness. If he can be coached up, the ceiling is at the elite level.
Projected draft range: Picks 20-32
#9 – Trade Back: take Timmy Jernigan
Mock drafts have hound the Bears with the near certainty they would take FloridaState star Timmy Jernigan with the 14th pick. In truth despite his huge performance in the national championship game, Jernigan isn’t worth that high of a pick. He’s not a great pass rusher and he’s slightly undersized. His best quality is run-stopping. Hence why it’s prudent to move back before getting him.
Projected draft range: Picks 20-40
#10 – Trade Back: take Jimmie Ward
A local product the Chicago Bears scouts are certain to know all about. Jimmie Ward stood out big time at safety for Northern Illinois. He’s tagged as having the body of a corner with the mindset of a linebacker. He’s excellent in coverage with great range and speed but also throws his weight around against the run. His stock is rising but teams are wary of making him a first round pick due to his slight frame, making him an injury risk at the pro level. Still, if the Bears were to move back first they could feel better about adding him to the secondary in the 2014 NFL draft.
Projected draft range: Picks 28-50