Sep 28, 2013; Lexington, KY, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy (15) during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats at Commonwealth Stadium. Florida defeated Kentucky 24-7. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
The 2014 NFL draft is shaping up as a very important one for the Chicago Bears. They can’t afford to miss on too many of their picks. With that in mind, here is a full round-by-round mock draft of how it could develop.
1st Round – Loucheiz Purifoy – CB – Florida
Here’s one opinion stating that Jay Cutler isn’t going anywhere. His steady improvement under Marc Trestman should be enough to notch a long-term contract extension or at the very least the franchise tag. With that happening, GM Phil Emery must put the bulk of his focus in the early rounds on the defense. Five of the cornerbacks on his roster including Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are free agents in 2014. So adding young talent is essential. Emery likes athletes who are big and doesn’t fear limited experience. Loucheiz Purifoy out of Florida is his kind of player. For what he lacks in coverage skill at this point, the Gator corner is a versatile weapon for the Gator defense, able to blitz using his top-tier speed and boast the size at 6’1″ to match up against big receivers. On top of that? He is a special teams ace as well. Chicago will love him in the long run.
2nd Round – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
Perhaps the more problematic area for the Bears in 2013 is their defensive line. Injuries have ravaged their defensive tackle position with Henry Melton and Nate Collins out with torn ACLs. On top of that, both are free agents next year. That is why Chicago will take Timmy Jernigan from FloridaState. He is strong, athletic and explosive off the snap, able to get into the backfield and disrupt the play. What holds him back at times is his anticipation. That might come from not playing tackle for very long. Still his upside is huge could prove highly beneficial to Chicago as it rebuilds their front.
3rd Round – Bryan Stork – C – Florida State
Speaking of fronts, the Bears know they can’t afford to ignore their offensive line either. At a glance it seem head coach Marc Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer have finally constructed a group that can block for Cutler. One area though that isn’t far away from seeing a change is center. Roberto Garza is an accomplished veteran but he turns 35 next year and isn’t the same player he was three or four seasons ago. The time is right to find him an understudy and the Bears can go right back to Florida State to find him. Like his teammate Jernigan, Bryan Stork is athletic and versatile, having played tight end in high school. Well-coached with the Seminoles, he is a superb run blocker and has steadily improved his technique in pass protection.
4th Round – Jeff Mathews – QB – Cornell
Both Emery and Trestman have said on separate occasions that they would like to get a young arm to start grooming behind Cutler at some point. Given the depth of the 2014 draft class they feel comfortable waiting until the 4th round where they scoop up a scout favorite in Cornell star Jeff Mathews. Having feasted on weaker competition many will be instantly skeptical of his chances in the NFL but physically there are few questions. He can make any throw with accuracy, has optimal height at 6’4″ and good enough mobility to keep plays alive. What he needs is more experience in a pro-style attack, which Trestman would drill into him from a safe place behind Cutler.
5th Round – Carrington Byndom – CB – Texas
Emery decides to double down on the secondary market. Having secured Purifoy early, he takes a calculated flier on another big corner from Texas in Carrington Byndom. At 6’0″ he can play against any size receiver andhas decent speed to play outside or inside. He also has a nose for the end zone, having returned interceptions for touchdowns in his sophomore and junior seasons. There are some rough edges to hash out but with the right coaching he can become a capable starter in the league.
6th Round (from TB) – David Fluellen – RB – Toledo
The Chicago Bears aren’t quite at a point where they can afford to draft a running back early but they can’t ignore the fact Matt Forte and Michael Bush are pushing 30-years old. They have to think about investing in some young legs. Toledo runner David Fluellen fits their type of offense. He has good vision and patience running the ball along with the toughness that comes from handling heavy loads of carries. Best of all he is especially comfortable catching passes out of the backfield, something in heavy demand under Trestman. He’s not explosive according to scouts, but he is reliable and knows his position inside and out.
6th Round – Seantrel Henderson – OT – Miami
The late rounds are about taking chances and Emery has no qualms about that. Seantrel Henderson out of Miami is just that kind of player. Athletically he was the top recruit of his class coming out of high school but has suffered through problems both on and off the field that has hampered his progress with the Hurricanes. Scouts see a very large but mobile big man who has improved his run and pass blocking. Given the Chicago Bears have Aaron Kromer on their staff, selecting offensive linemen late is a perk they can enjoy. Henderson’s upside is all the offensive coordinator will need.