With just a few short hours separating us from the 2014 NFL Draft, Phil Emery, the general manager of the Chicago Bears, is now under the scrutiny of every Bears fan. Coming off a season with the league’s worst defense, Emery and the Bears are in desperate need of help on the defensive side of the ball. This is where the scrutiny is coming; Emery does not have the best track record when drafting for defense.
Emery’s last two high (first two rounds) defensive draft picks are still fighting for playing time. In 2012 Emery selected DE/LB Shea McClellin out of Boise State with the team’s first-round selection, and last year the team took LB Jon Bostic out of Florida with their second-round pick. Both picks will be scrutinized even more because the players selected directly before Bostic and directly after McClellin (Kyle Long and Alshon Jeffery) have both been selected to the Pro Bowl.
McClellin has been able to rack up only 6.5 sacks in two seasons, with three of those coming in a Week 8 win over the Green Bay Packers last season. Heading into the 2014 season, McClellin will move to LB in an effort to keep him on the field after the team brought in free agents Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston.
Bostic was thrust into the starting lineup last year after D.J. Williams was ruled out for the year with an injury. He would finish the season with 57 tackles, two sacks and one interception, though his run stopping ability is still very much in question. Bostic and McClellin will figure to compete for playing time this season alongside Lance Briggs and Williams.
Emery’s last two early round offensive picks have become Pro Bowlers in less than two seasons and his last two defensive picks are still fighting to find playing time. This year will be a telling point as to whether Emery can draft defensively or not. There is little question that Emery can go out and get defensive free agents after this offseason, but teams are built, not bought. Emery needs to prove this season that without a doubt he can bring in young talent to build up this team.
As of 7 p.m. CT tonight, Phil Emery is officially on the clock to prove exactly how well, or not, he can draft for the defense.