In a sense, the Chicago Bears gambled when they decided not to select a safety with their No. 14 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. General manager Phil Emery opted to use the first-round selection on Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller. This pick would have made more sense had top-rated safeties Calvin Pryor and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix not been available, but they were.
The New York Jets ended up selecting Pryor with the 18th overall pick, while Clinton-Dix became the newest member of the rival Green Bay Packers three picks later. Many thought that these would be the only two safeties taken off the board in the first round, leaving more of the higher-quality safeties for Chicago to pick from in the second round. However, things didn’t turn out that way.
Deone Bucannon and Jimmie Ward were the next best available safeties and were predicted to go somewhere in Round 2. Surprisingly, the Arizona Cardinals swooped down and grabbed Bucannon, who visited with the Bears, with the 27th pick, and the San Francisco 49ers selected Ward with the 30th pick.
Now the Bears face the dilemma of whether they are going to pursue a safety or a defensive tackle with the 51st overall pick in the second round. Right now it looks like Florida State’s Terrence Brooks and USC’s Dion Bailey could be the best available safeties on the board going into Day 2 of the draft. On the flip side, there are numerous defensive tackles floating around as well.
If more safeties unexpectedly fly off the board like they did during the first round of draft, Chicago could be in a situation where they will have to settle for what they have on their roster. Currently, Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray, Craig Steltz and Chris Conte make up the Bears’ group of safeties.
Right now, Mundy and Jennings look like the potential starters in the secondary. This is considered an upgrade from 2013, but there is still room for improvement. Conte, last year’s starter, will more than likely begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list due to offseason shoulder surgery.
With all of the offseason signings and the addition of Fuller, the Bears’ defense is already looking better than it did a year ago. Seeing how Emery turned around Chicago’s offense in a short period of time should give fans hope that he could do the same for the defense. There is still a good chance of that happening, but it would have been much greater had Emery taken either Pryor or Clinton-Dix in the first round.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.