2014 NFL Draft: 10 Late-Round Sleepers the Chicago Bears Should Target
10 NFL Draft Sleepers for the Chicago Bears
Dominating the defensive side of the ball is what the Chicago Bears are known for. Chicago is a hard-nosed, blue-collar city and the Bears' physical style of football has always matched up well with the city. For years, the Bears have relied on their defense to keep the games close, as the offense constantly sputtered. Well, if last season is a sign of things to come, football is changing in the Windy City.
In 2013, the Bears gave up 29.9 points per game, which is tied for the second most in the NFL, trailing only the Minnesota Vikings. They finished 30th out of 32 teams in yards allowed per game with 394.6, including a whopping 161.4 allowed against the run, which was the worst in the league by a wide margin.
While the defense was putrid, the offense carried the load nicely. Trailing only the record setting Denver Broncos, the Bears scored the second most points in the league with 445 (27.8 per game). For the first time in seemingly forever, the tides have turned and the offense is now the unit carrying the load for Chicago.
Head Coach Marc Trestman is known as a bit of an offensive guru, and his success with this offense in not surprising. The Bears have had some talented pieces on that side of the ball for years, but they were never able to use them correctly. Former coach Lovie Smith and lack of offensive continuity from year to year is likely to blame for that. Regardless, Trestman has seemed to have found something with this offense, and the future is bright.
With QB Jay Cutler signed to an extension, adding impact talent defensively will be the No. 1 priority this offseason. The Bears do not have much cap room to work with, so adding impact players through the draft will be key. It is incredibly unlikely that they become an elite defense overnight, but just getting to league average makes them a legitimate contender.
General manager Phil Emery is surely going to draft defensive prospects early and often. They have many holes on that side of the ball that need to be fixed. While their early round picks will get the most attention, there are potential impact prospects in the later rounds of this draft that can step in right away and contribute.
Here are 10 NFL Draft sleepers who the Bears need to target in the later rounds.
10. Josh Huff, WR, Oregon
I know, I just spent that whole time talking about how the defense is so bad, and the Bears must draft players for that side of the ball. Then, I lead it off with a wide receiver. This would certainly be a luxury pick, but I believe that Josh Huff could be very dangerous with the Bears.
He is an incredibly fast and agile player that has good route running skills and dependable hands. Huff is only 5-foot-11, so he is likely strictly a slot WR in the NFL. That would make him a nice fit with the Bears, because Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery have things locked down on the outside. He also has nice return ability, which could come in handy with Devin Hester unlikely to return. If he falls to a nice value in the draft, the Bears must consider Huff to add yet another weapon to their offense.
9. Tre Boston, S, UNC
Major Wright and especially Chris Conte simply are not getting the job done at the safety position for the Bears. In fact, they may be the worst starting safety duo in the league. The Bears must address the position in the draft, and Tre Boston is a possible candidate.
Boston is a bit small (5-foot-11, 205 pounds), but he is a tough and physical player that is not afraid to come up and hit. He has nice athletic ability and has shown good ball skills. Boston is a very aggressive player, and while I like to see that, it does get him in trouble at times. He is likely a free safety in the NFL because of this lack of size.
8. Max Bullough, LB, Michigan State
Max Bullough was a very productive linebacker in college who is being overlooked in this draft. Bullough does not have athleticism that will jump off the charts, but he is a big guy (6-foot-3, 249 pounds) who has a lot of experience at the position. Bullough is great against the run, and a run stuffing LB is certainly something the Bears could use.
7. Jason Hendricks, S, Pittsburgh
Jason Hendricks is a fast and versatile safety that could play right away for the Bears. At 6-foot, 195 pounds, Hendricks is a bit small, but he has the speed and athleticism to make up for it. Hendricks also has nice ball skills and is very good in coverage. With the obvious need at the safety position, Hendricks should be a target in the later rounds.
6. Deandre Coleman, DT, California
Injuries certainly had a lot to do with it, but the Bears really struggled on the interior of the defensive line last season, and that is a huge reason why they gave up the most rushing yards in the league. Deandre Coleman is an underrated DT prospect that would fit in well with the Bears' 4-3 defense. He measured at 6-foot-5, 314 pounds at the combine, so he certainly has the size for the position. Coleman is a raw prospect, but he is very talented and the upside is obvious.
5. Kenny Ladler, S, Vanderbilt
Kenny Ladler is yet another underrated safety prospect for the Bears to consider. Ladler has great pure speed, but he does not always control it as well as you would like. He is a solid tackler with nice coverage skills. He also has a knack for creating turnovers, which is always a plus. Ladler has great athletic ability and could become a steal in the late rounds of the draft.
4. Terrence Brooks, S, Florida State
A four year starter at Florida State, Terrence Brooks is a very hard working player with a ton of experience. Brooks is a converted cornerback, and the coverage skills are obvious. Run support is not his strength, but he is not afraid to stick his nose in there. Brooks ran the fastest 40 time for the safety position at the combine at 4.42. He would be a great fit in Chicago, where he could step right in and start.
3. E.J. Dunston, DT, UCF
The Bears simply must address the DT position in this draft, and E.J. Dunston just may be the perfect option for them. He has already shown great skills against the run, which is what the Bears need the most. While he has not done much damage in the pass rush, Dunston has intriguing potential in that department. Worst case, he is a run stuffing player that the Bears desperately need, and best case, he figures out the pass rush and becomes a stud.
2. Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Jimmie Ward is a local prospect for the Bears, and is a perfect fit in their defense. Ward is an incredible coverage safety that has some great ball skills. He is a solid tackler in open space, and never seems to be out of position. Ward has been gaining some steam since the Senior Bowl, so it may be a bit of a stretch to call him a sleeper. Regardless, Ward has all the skills to become great at the safety position in the NFL. I think the Bears need to target Ward, and hope that he is available at a value.
1. Caraun Reid, DT, Princeton
Caraun Reid is another DT prospect that would fit in well with Chicago. Reid is a perfect fit for the Bears' 4-3 defense. He has the size (6-foot-2, 302 pounds) and strength to play inside and stop the run, and the athleticism to rush the passer. Reid is a relentless player that could step in immediately on the defensive line for the Bears.