Dec. 23, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA: Chicago Bears defensive end Julius Peppers (90) celebrates with the fans following the game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Bears defeated the Cardinals 28-13. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Cleveland Browns impacted the 2014 NFL draft thanks to their Trent Richardson trade but every team has shifting strategies according to how the 2013 season progresses. Based on recent event what are some scenarios that could play out for the Chicago Bears?
Scenario #1 – Pass Rusher (Trent Murphy and Dominique Easley)
Obviously how any of these scenarios play out depends on where the Bears draft next May. Based on their 2-0 start this year and their 10-6 finish last year it’s reasonable to assume they could land a pick somewhere in the early to late 20s. In that two week span it has also become clear they have problems with their pass rush. All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers and Pro Bowl defensive tackle Henry Melton have zero sacks in two games. With Melton in a contract year and Peppers turning 34 this season the strength of the Chicago pass rush is look shaky. That makes the need for adding to it a higher priority.
Trent Murphy is a steady force for Stanford. He dominated the opener against San JoseState. He has plenty of power and the polished technique to contribute right away with whoever drafts him. His added speed to get around the edge on occasion is enough to keep offensive tackles guessing. Though he does play in a 3-4 defense, he has the frame and the versatility to become defensive end in the Bears Cover two 4-3 system.
Dominique Easley has developed into a force for the Florida defense. He is stout against the run, creating havoc at the point of attack and has the speed to give tackles fits. A perfect example was his recent game against Miami when he drew three holding penalties on the Hurricanes. Scouts see him as a solid pick late in the first round and has the added experience of playing defensive tackle as well. That versatility is something the Bears covet.
Scenario #2 – Cornerback (Louchiez Purifoy and Aaron Colvin)
Charles Tillman is 32-years old and banged up to start the 2013 season. Tim Jennings is 29-years old and at his career peak. Both are in the last year of their contracts. The Chicago Bears front office has to know this and also know they don’t have a very stable pipeline of young talent available to replace either of them. So building one is a big deal. Phil Emery likes players with size and athleticism as evidenced by his very large receiving corps headed by Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. One should expect he’ll try to do the same at defensive back.
A prime example is Louchiez Purifoy out of Florida. He comes out of the SEC where the competition is premium, plays in a proven defensive program, has good height at 6’1″ and scouts have raved about his speed and athleticism. Not only is he very good in coverage but he is also an asset on special teams both as a returner and a punt blocker. He does need work on his tackling ability but in terms of locking down a receiver he has everything it takes.
Aaron Colvin on the other hand is more of a natural fit in the Chicago Bears defense. He has the size and speed to play man coverage as he’s done for Oklahoma but his added ability to play the ball and tackle means he can thrive in Tampa-2 system that Tillman and Jennings have perfected.
Scenario #3 – Trade back and take Lache Seastrunk
Current signs hint the Chicago Bears are feeling pretty good about the progress Jay Cutler has made under head coach Marc Trestman. That could mean they are prepared to make an offer at the end of the season provided he doesn’t fall completely apart. So Emery may still take a quarterback in the 2014 NFL draft, just not in the first round. On the other hand, adding another weapon wouldn’t hurt. Finding a speedy receiver would be nice but the two prospects in that category for the first round (Sammy Watkins and Marqise Lee) are not likely to fall that far. Then again, Trestman is not above putting his running backs to good use. Matt Forte turns 28 this season, which is advanced for a runner. His backup Michael Bush is 29. So the Bears could use some fresh blood in their backfield.
His Heisman candidacy is still in the developmental stages but there is no question Lache Seastrunk rates as one of the best running backs in the 2014 class. He has an excellent combination of size and speed with the power to break tackles but the cutting ability to avoid them. He averaged 7.7 yards per carry in 2012 and is off to a fast start already at Baylor this season. If he stays healthy and keeps producing they he could crack the first round. The Chicago Bears would welcome his ability to their developing offense.