5 Possible 1st-Round Scenarios For the Chicago Bears’ 2014 NFL Draft
Chicago Bears' First-Round Pick Scenarios
The name of the game for the Chicago Bears this offseason will be defense. That’s the main thing that should be on the minds of the team executives and coaches in the draft, in free agency and in any transactions made. Changes have to be made to a defense that finished the season near the very bottom of the league in total defense and dead last in rushing yards allowed per game.
At crucial positions, some players are aging and struggling to remain healthy enough to be on the field. Other players under-performed to the point where their jobs may be in jeopardy in the coming months.
They can’t expect to compete for the Lombardi trophy on a consistent basis, much less make the playoffs coming out of the NFC North, if the defense isn’t re-branded as a priority on this team. The other divisional teams have too many weapons on the offensive side of the ball to allow for the same result to happen next season.
Finding the perfect blend of youth and skill is always hard to do in the NFL. It’s even more difficult to predict whether a college player is worth taking a chance on in the draft. The team has to be willing to bet that the player’s success at the previous level will be able to adequately translate to the professional game.
Last year’s draft was initially thought of to be relatively weak in regards to depth and standout players at the top. Many of those players in the first round went on to be full-time starters and contributing factors in their first season. This year’s crop seems to be more fruitful with some of the best players from the past few college football seasons.
The Bears currently own pick No. 14 in the draft. Here are five possible scenarios that the team could use to make the most of that selection in the upcoming draft.
5. Select DT Timmy Jernigan
This is the selection that most mock drafts have the Bears making with the 14th pick. Timmy Jernigan's junior season with Florida State culminated in a National Championship and he was a big reason why. Based on his play this past season, he was voted an AP All-American.
Many will remember that he seemed to be a little gassed late in the title game a month ago. At one point it was believed that his draft stock would suffer as a result, however, it was announced that Jernigan was ill around the time of the game. He could be a step in the right direction to rebuild the Bears' defensive line.
4. Select DT Aaron Donald Earlier Than Projected
In awards that an interior defensive lineman can qualify for, Aaron Donald practically swept the NCAA College Football Awards Show. This past season's winner of the Lombardi Award, Bednarik Award, Outland Trophy and Nagurski Trophy has received mixed reviews, though. Many draft experts don't agree on where he should be taken and his overall standing amongst the other top prospects.
Some have him going early in the second round and others have him midway through the first. Even with this much uncertainty going into the Draft Combine, his 11 sacks this season warrants the Bears giving him strong consideration to help boost their pressure into the opposing team's backfield.
3. Take Hard Look At C.J. Mosley's Potential In 4-3 Set
Taking C.J. Mosley might be the biggest stretch for the Bears to make with this pick given their other needs on the defense. This is mostly due to the fact that Mosley is accustomed to the MLB position in Alabama's base 3-4 set. Until further notice, the Bears defense is geared at a four man front on the defensive line.
There is talk that Mosley could very well transition from his MLB position in a 3-4 to an OLB in a 4-3 set. This is definitely something to explore as the team should be looking to add young, quality linebackers to their core. Mosley is a two-time National Champion (2012 and 2013) with the Crimson Tide and the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
2. Decide Between CBs Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert
The Bears are on the lookout for any player that helps improve their secondary in the draft. Luckily, there are two highly rated guys to choose from at CB that may slip and be available when it's time for their selection: Darqueze Dennard and Justin Gilbert.
Michigan State's Dennard was a member of one of the nation's top overall defenses. He is a corner who is capable of being left on the island by himself and getting physical in man coverage. He also has a habit of coming up and supporting his linebackers against the run; something the Bears can use in their secondary.
Oklahoma State's Gilbert is the kind of big-bodied cornerback that the Bears would love to have on roster. While Dennard is more likely to lockdown a cornerback, Gilbert is the more likely of the two to create the big play defensively that the team is used to. He is also quite the return specialist when the ball is in his hands.
If the Bears decide to go with cornerbacks, one of these two might still be available when No. 14 rolls around.
1. Hope That FS Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Is Still Available
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is probably the player that the Bears may need most of all here. Both safety spots are in flux right now after mediocre seasons from Chris Conte and Major Wright. Wright is going to be a free agent and Conte has one year remaining on his contract. Drafting him here would make a lot of sense.
While at Alabama, his ability to support the run and pass made him an All-American. If he's available at pick No. 14, don't be surprised to hear his name get called. There are other talented safeties with value in later rounds, but Clinton-Dix would be a hard one to pass on.