Since the Chicago Bears signed prolific pass rusher Jared Allen a few weeks ago, there has been a shift in the thinking of the fanbase, and a few analysts, on what position the Bears should draft for with the 14th overall pick in the coming NFL Draft.
Prior to the Allen signing, there was overwhelming support to draft a defensive lineman with the first-round pick. However, recently there have been plenty of rumblings to draft a safety instead. These rumblings, while valid, may be misguided.
The Bears’ fanbase suffered through last season with the worst run defense in the league. The team has responded this offseason with signings of Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije, but is this enough? The team will only have two interior lineman signed beyond this season when they open camp later this summer. With barely any depth along the line, the Bears will be playing with fire this season if they do not add quality talent via the draft. A great defensive line can cover up weaknesses in other areas of the defense, and the Bears are on the edge of having an elite defensive line for the first time in years. By adding another elite player from the first round, and a few later-round picks for depth, they can have a truly imposing line.
Though, after the poor play of safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright last season, most people are clambering for a Pro Bowl-caliber talent to man the defensive backfield. The Bears have responded with the signings of Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings, both of whom are merely band-aids to patch a hole until a better solution can present itself. With players like Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor potentially sitting there when the Bears pick at No. 14, it would be hard to pass up, but there is still plenty of great defensive back help available after the first round.
In his latest mock draft, ESPN insider Mel Kiper has the Bears selecting Lamarcus Joyner out of Florida State. Joyner has the skill set to play both corner or safety, though, would probably fit best for the Bears at nickel, for now. The only reason the Bears should be entertaining the idea of taking a safety in the first round is if their top picks at defensive tackle are already off the board and they do not want to reach for a guy that they can still get in the second round.
Fortunately for Bears fans, general manager Phil Emery has put his team in a great spot to draft for the best available option come May.
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