Phil Emery is a master of misdirection. Chicago Bears fans know this well. So with a little foreshadowing, who might his six options be for the NFL draft?
Aaron Donald – DT – Pitt
Emery wasn’t mincing words when he told reporters shouldn’t count on the Bears taking defensive tackle Aaron Donald. It didn’t sound like an indictment of the player but more a realistic understanding that the dynamic interior pass rusher won’t be there at #14. However, if he is it’s clear by Emery’s expectations that if Donald is available the team has their well-documented reasons to take him.
Anthony Barr – OLB – UCLA
It’s that he’s inexperienced and comes out of UCLA from a 3-4 defense but Anthony Barr is the kind of rare athlete that transcends scheme. Despite being so raw he still dominated as a pass rusher for the Bruins and is only going to get better with more experience. Not only does he have the frame to become a defensive end, he has the athleticism and speed to shift to linebacker like Shea McClellin has. His versatility and potential are off the charts.
Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Everybody, including the Chicago Bears saw the show Justin Gilbert put on at the scouting combine back in March. He is easily the most athletically gifted cornerback in the draft, able to play one-on-one coverage and not only matchup with size but speed as well. He’s also a gifted return man, only adding to his value. The Bears have aging corners in Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. Gilbert would make an ideal understudy for those two Pro Bowlers.
Calvin Pryor – FS – Louisville
Frankly I think the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix argument as the best safety in the draft has less to do with his actual skill and more the fact he’s coming out of Alabama. Calvin Pryor has more of the look of a pro safety. He produces those impact plays teams expect from the position be it tone-setting hit, a secure tackle or a timely sack on a blitz. His coverage showed improvement throughout 2013 and he has the athleticism to get even better.
Taylor Lewan – OT – Michigan
One rule I’ve always believed in is you never pass on a potential franchise left tackle if he’s available. Jermon Bushrod is a reliable starter for the Bears offense but he’s not elite and he turns 30 in August. Taylor Lewan has the size, demeanor and athleticism to become a fixture on the blind side for the next ten years. It would mean holding off on defense early but keeping the quarterback upright is much more important in the short and long-term.
Eric Ebron – TE – North Carolina
Tight end is another position that isn’t necessarily a need but Eric Ebron is not just any player. NFL.com recently rated him as one of seven “elite” prospects in the 2014 NFL draft class. He features everything Phil Emery envisions for the Chicago Bears: big, athletic and fast. Marc Trestman could create all sorts of mismatches with him against defenses, especially if he paired Ebron with current starter Martellus Bennett. As before it would hold off on defense but given what they accomplished in free agency, Ebron is a player worth that sacrifice.
Keeping in line with what Emery stated during his press conference, he would be happy if two of those six players were available at #14 and “ecstatic” if three were there. Chances of that are slim but if it comes to pass it opens up several avenues when the Bears go on the clock.