It hardly seems real, but in the 2014 NFL draft, the Chicago Bears’ most pressing need is to find players who can come in and start on defense, with only a need for depth on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears have the No. 14 pick in the first round on Thursday night, with single picks in the first five rounds and two choices in the sixth.
While the Bears most urgent need is someone to play alongside newly acquired Jared Allen at defensive tackle, their top pick will depend much on which players are taken in the first 13 picks. Most agree that the ideal choice would be DT Aaron Donald from Pittsburgh, and many mock drafts are already making that projection. A quick 285-pounder who reminds ESPN’s Herman Edwards of Warren Sapp, he is ranked as the eighth-best player available by Scouts.inc, however, and there is a chance he may not be there at the No. 14 pick. If Donald is gone and the Bears a dead-set on getting a DT, Louis Nix of Notre Dame would be a great choice if only for his skill in stopping the run. The once-proud Chicago “D” ranked last in the NFL last year in yards allowed on the ground.
Ryan Mundy was acquired by the Bears in the off-season from the Steelers to fill a void at safety that was left when Major Wright left to join Lovie Smith in Tampa Bay, but the team still would love to add another skilled player at the position. Chris Conte will be back, but underwent shoulder surgery and will miss most of training camp. The top safeties in the first round will be Ha’Sean (Ha Ha) Clinton-Dix from Alabama and Calvin Pryor from Louisville. With Clinton-Dix rated in the top-ten, there is a good possibility he will be gone when the Bears make their selection, so Pryor will probably get the nod if Donald is not available. The Bears have also shown interest in Deone Bucannon, (6-1, 211) out of Washington State. If they do not take a safety in the first round, there is a good chance they can pick up Bucannon with pick No. 51 in the second.
Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman will both be back at cornerback, but with both players in their 30s it would not be a stretch to see Chicago take a top-tier corner if he is available in the first round. Names being mentioned include Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State, Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State and Kyle Fuller, who starred at Virginia Tech.
Going with an offensive player in the first round is not completely out of the question, but according to Bears’ GM Phil Emery “not probable.” Emery said he hopes that all six of the top quarterbacks are taken before Chicago’s No. 14 pick because that will mean there is a better chance that the player he wants will be there. The only thing he would tell the media at his news conference last Friday was that the Bears had six players targeted for their first-round pick. He did not mention any names. If there is an offensive player that could be a first-round pick for the Bears, it might be North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron. At 6-4, 285 some are suggesting that Ebron has enough range to move into the No. 3 wide receiver position if necessary.
After the search for starters on defense in the 2014 NFL draft, the Chicago Bears will look to find a little help in the backfield for Matt Forte. Head Coach Marc Trestman would love to find someone with the versatility to change things up on certain downs, and a running back like James White from Wisconsin or Oregon’s De’Anthony Thomas might be available in the middle rounds, as well as Ka’Deem Carey from Arizona.
Commentary by Chuck Podhaisky
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer covering the Chicago Bears