Understanding the immediate needs the Bears have with this current roster, new general manager Phil Emery can go a lot of directions with the 19th overall pick in April’s 2012 NFL draft. Do they go Wide Receiver with the first pick—a position the organization hasn’t taken in the first round since 2001?
On the other hand, the Bears still need a second pass rusher at defensive end, who can take advantage of one-on-one opportunities created by Julius Peppers . . .
Or do they grab a first-round corner to solidify the number two starting spot at DB (opposite Charles Tillman) once and for all. Or do they select an offensive lineman for the third time in five years?
Whatever position they choose, the Bears need to find an impact player in the first round and start a habit of landing that type of player with their high round draft picks.
Having said that, here are 10 players I could make a case for the Bears to select with the 19th overall pick in the 2012 draft . . .
Michael Floyd WR Notre Dame
There’s a very good chance Floyd will be there at 19 for the Bears, which means you really have to keep an eye on teams potentially trying to jump in front of the Bears to select the talented WR.
Floyd is the type of big, play-making WR the Bears need. He’s similar to a guy the Bears might target in free agency in Vincent Jackson as his explosion off the line of scrimmage, route running and ability to go up and catch the ball makes up for lack of elite speed.
Courtney Upshaw DE/OLB Alabama
Upshaw can probably go as high as 10th and as low as 19th. He should be in the Bears’ sights if they want a young, impact defensive player to add to an aging group.
His height (6’ 1”) doesn’t exactly say ideal fit in a 4-3, but at Alabama he proved he can rush from a three-point stance very effectively. His speed and power off the edge, most times, can overwhelm opposing Offensive Tackles. And that’s what Lovie can use in his Tampa-2.
The bonus with Upshaw is that he’s “scheme versatile,” so if Lovie doesn’t work out after 2012, and the Bears switch to a different scheme in 2013—like the 3—he can easily switch to outside linebacker.
CB Janoris Jenkins CB Northern Alabama
It’s been a while since the Bears had a ball-hawk at the DB position. D.J. Moore provides a little bit of that, but he’s not a full-time player, and the Bears thought they had that guy in Zackary Bowman. That didn’t quite work out.
Northern Alabama’s Janoris Jenkins would provide that ability, as well as exceptional man-coverage. While Alfonzo Dennard might be an ideal fit in the Tampa-2, Jenkins has a higher ceiling.
Dwayne Allen TE Clemson and Coby Fleener TE Stanford
Lovie Smith stated in his end of the season press conference that Kellen Davis "can do anything the good tight ends in this league can do.” He might be right, as we have seen flashes there, but until we see Davis put it all together, TE will be a need this off-season.
Dwayne Allen is the top rated TE prospect by a majority of draft nits around the web, and Coby Fleener is not that far off. In my opinion, Fleener is the better TE of the two, as he has the speed to exploit the deep middle of the field.
Melvin Ingram DE South Carolina
Ingram might be the most complete DE prospect in this year’s draft, outside of Quinton Couples. He has sideline-to-sideline speed, he’s a very effective pass rusher, and he plays the run very well.
Like Peppers, he’s the type of DE you can move inside to create favorable match-ups against inferior guards. He has also shown the ability to drop into coverage.
Ingram is an athletic freak at the DE position, and he can get even better learning from Julius Peppers and Rod Marinelli—if he’s selected by the Bears at 19 that is.
Mike Adams OT Ohio State
Webb, for a second season, gave up double digit sacks (14), so there is a possibility that the Bears look towards tackle in the first-round for the third time in five years.
Mike Adams came into the Senior Bowl projected as a middle second-rounder; he left the Senior Bowl projected as a top-20 pick and a LT at the “next level.” If Adams is the best player on the board in Emery’s eyes, he will most likely garner the pick.
Peter Konz C Wisconsin
Interior line is not as pressing of a need. But if Knoz is available, you have to strongly consider the best Center in the draft.
Roberto Garza will be 33 years-old when the season starts, and he struggled in some contests down the stretch. You also have to factor in that the Bears will be seeing Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairly, and B.J. Raji for the next eight to 10 years.
The Bears need a long-term solution at center to go with an up-and-coming good LG in Chris Williams.
Mohammad Sanu WR Rutgers
Probably the most underrated WR prospect in this up-coming draft, Sanu can develop into a Hakeem Nicks-like receiver.
He plays much bigger than his size indicates (6’ 2”, 215 lbs), and he works the middle of the field well. He is also a threat on the outside. As far as a pass-catcher, he and Alshon Jeffery might be the best in this year’s draft when attacking the football with their hands.
Sanu is at his best when he can exploit zone coverage by finding the open spots and using his strength to break tackles and make big plays after the catch.
Dont’a Hightower ILB Alabama
I didn’t really consider Hightower until I read Sun-Times reporter Sean Jensen’s piece on the idea of trading Lance Briggs straight up for Osi Umenyiora.
That would open up the possibility of selecting Alabama’s standout ILB Dont’a Hightower to fill a void at weak-side LB. The Bears will probably have to fill a need at weak-side LB a couple years from now when Urlacher is likely to retire, and Hightower moves over, but that’s a position that can easily be filled.
And who knows what scheme the Bears will be running years from now.