When the Chicago Bears and defensive end Jared Allen agreed to a contract last week nothing should have changed for the Bears except the team’s Super Bowl chances. Even with a completely revamped defensive line the Bears can still afford to get younger on defense. With only three defensive linemen listed on the team’s official roster, four if you count Lamarr Houston who has the skill-set to move inside, the defensive line should be top priority. Of those four players (Nate Collins, Stephen Paea, Israel Idonije and Houston) only Houston is signed beyond this season. If the Bears want to avoid a repeat of their awful 2013 defense in the next few years they need to get younger impact players on defense immediately.
With the 14th pick in the first round and the 19th pick in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft, the Bears are poised to pick up two impact defensive players. As most were predicting prior to the Allen signing, the Bears should take former Pitt defensive lineman Aaron Donald in the first round. Donald is a premier pass rusher who seemed unblockable in the Senior Bowl and was able to elevate his draft stock with great workouts at the Scouting Combine earlier this month. Donald would also benefit greatly from having Allen and Houston on the field to draw the double teams and open up space along the line for him.
The second round is harder to judge, though with such a deep draft there should still be plenty of options for the Bears with the 51st overall pick. Safety is the second position the team should look to upgrade in the draft. Not many teams above them are in as bad of shape at the position which could lead to a steal in the second round. Former Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward would fit well into this team and would fill another play-maker role on defense. Though Ward lacks prototypical size, he has a knack for being around the ball and is a great open field tackler. Both of these qualities were areas that the Bears’ safeties struggled with last year.
General manager Phil Emery proved last year that he knows how to draft for offense, hitting home runs with offensive lineman Kyle Long and Jordan Mills. Though his track record for drafting on defense is woefully different (ex. Shea McClellin). This year could be Emery’s chance to turn things around, and if he can pull of the same magic he did last year this team has a chance to be scary good this season.
Mike Cuddy is a Chicago Bears writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeCuddy, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.
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