The Chicago Bears have made some good moves this offseason thus far. The majority of the organization’s free-agent signings have been on the defensive side of the ball, and for a good reason. Last year, the Bears ended with the defense having the worst season in the storied history of the franchise. As a result, Chicago ventured into free agency to right some of the wrongs from 2013.
General manager Phil Emery started by signing defensive end Lamarr Houston to replace the departed Julius Peppers. Emery continued to add more force to the defensive line by signing Willie Young. In addition, the Bears re-signed defensive tackles Nate Collins and Jeremiah Ratliff and brought Israel Idonije back for a second stint in the Windy City.
Chicago’s secondary has been bolstered as well, especially at the safety positions. M.D. Jennings and Ryan Mundy were brought in to compete with Chris Conte for a starting spot, while Craig Steltz re-signed and Danny McCray was added for depth.
Even with all of the extra manpower on the defensive line and in the secondary, there still is some uncertainty of what the Bears will do with their No. 14 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. Many are saying that Chicago should use that pick on a defensive tackle, especially since Henry Melton is now with the Dallas Cowboys. Others are saying that a safety should be top priority. Either route would benefit the Bears, but the selection should depend on which prospects are on the board when Chicago is on the clock.
If you ask me, if either Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Louisville’s Calvin Pryor (who are both safeties) are available at pick No. 14, then the Bears should choose one of them. Yes, I know the Bears have signed a number of safeties, but the addition of either Clinton-Dix or Pryor could be considered an upgrade compared to the Bears’ recent signings.
In this year’s draft, the safety position isn’t as deep as defensive tackle. Both Clinton-Dix and Pryor are the only safeties projected to go in the first round by most analysts.
On the other hand, the top ten defensive tackles in the draft are projected to go in the first two rounds. The top three (Aaron Donald, Louis Nix III and Timmy Jernigan) are predicted to go in the first round, while the fourth and fifth DTs (Ra’Shede Hageman and Stephon Tuitt) are projected to go in either the first or second round. Even if the top five DTs are off the board once it’s time for Chicago to make a selection in the second round, there is a good chance that there will still be some quality interior linemen available.
So, if by chance Clinton-Dix or Pryor slides down to No. 14 this May, it would be wise for the Bears to get their claws on one of them and shift their focus to a defensive tackle during the second round.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.