Phil Emery’s very first draft as Bears’ G.M. was interesting as a whole. Instead of going with the popular pick in Whitney Mercilus, Emery selected Boise State DE Shea McClellin. Draft analysts and scouts project Shea to be more of a 3-4 OLB at the next level, but he goes to a 4-3 Tampa-2 team that will utilize his explosiveness, athleticism and strength against the run and pass.
In Day-2 Emery got aggressive and used a fifth-round pick to move up in the second-round to grab South Carolina WR Alshon Jeffery. Emery is taking a risk with Jeffery considering he battled weight issues his third and final year at South Carolina, but if his head is on straight, he can he be the steal of this Draft.
Third-round pick Brandon Hardin provides immediate competition for Major Wright and depth at Safety, while fourth-round H-Back Evan Rodriguez gives Cutler another safety valve to work with. Late round corners Isaiah Frey and Greg McCoy should add to the depth at CB and have to contribute on special teams to see time.
Here’s my in-depth analysis for each of Emery’s six draft picks . . .
1st Round: Shea McClellin DE, Boise State
My Pick: Whitney Mercilus DE, Illinois
I had a surprise reaction to the Shea McClellin selection simply because much of the talk leading up to the draft was zeroed in on Whitney Mercilus or Chandler Jones with the No. 19 pick. Mike Mayock had McClellin ranked 14th overall in his top 100 (Jones 9th and Mercilus 22nd), and watching the videos of McClellin, you can see why he ranked so high.
At Boise State, McClellin played all over the field. From LE, RE, SAM, MLB, and WLB he played it all, showcasing his ability to rush the passer and also drop into coverage. Lovie Smith said, however, that he will strictly be a DE, although he has the versatility to rush and drop into coverage from any of the positions listed.
Overall I think this was a solid selection with the potential to be great if Lovie Smith and Rod Marinelli can use his strengths to the team’s advantage. Yeah he’s more ideal for a 3-4, but for what Lovie asks of his DEs in this scheme, a guy of McClellin’s ability should have no problem fitting in.
2nd Round: Alshon Jeffery WR, South Carolina
My Pick: Marvin Jones WR, California
With so many WR needy teams ahead of the Bears, I didn’t think Alshon Jeffery would be available at pick No. 50, and neither did Emery. The Bears gave up a fifth-round pick in order to secure Alshon at No. 45.
At 6’ 3”, 216 pounds, Jeffery is a big, physical receiver with the ability to make plays all over the field. In my opinion, Jeffery had the best catch radius of all the WR prospects in the draft. He’s also one of the better prospects who can use his body to shield defenders whether it’s on a slant, jump ball, or comeback (3 route).
What caught my eye with Jeffery when watching video of him is that he can be a real threat after the catch; he’s a big strong WR who’s tough to bring down once he builds up speed.
Jeffery is a high risk in the second-round, but if it pays off, the Bears quite possibly have the best 1-2 combo in the division for years to come with Marshall and Jeffery. He looks like a proto-typical X receiver, but he will be asked to play the Z.
3rd Round: Brandon Hardin S, Oregon State
My Pick: Casey Hayward CB, Vanderbilt
At first I was surprise by this pick, as I felt safety wasn’t that pressing of a need, but then I remembered this is a new G.M. And while Lovie Smith might be high on Major Wright, the third-round selection of Hardin tells me Emery thinks otherwise.
Hardin’s skill-set sort of resembles last year’s third-round safety Chris Conte as both are tall, lanky, athletic safeties who are capable of covering a lot of ground in coverage. Hardin played most of his college career at CB, but Emery plans on transitioning him to the SS position.
For the immediate future, Hardin will have to make his presence felt on special teams, but seeing how Lovie likes to rotate safeties, there’s a good chance he cuts into Wright's playing time in his first season.
4th round: Evan Rodriguez H-Back, Temple
My Pick: Marcus Forston, DT, Miami
I was even more shocked about this pick. I thought they would select a DT here considering the departures of Amobi Okoye and Anthony Adams. Not addressing DT leads me to believe they may be eyeing a veteran in FA or the coaches are still high on last year UDFA Jordan Miller, who they moved up to the 53 man roster last season.
Even though Lovie has expressed his confidence in Kellen Davis’ ability, he is the only receiving threat at TE on the roster. Rodriguez brings a different element to the receiving game from the TE position as compared to Davis. While he can line up as your traditional Y receiving TE, he can also be a threat coming out the backfield because he’s a sure handed catcher and has the speed to threaten linebackers over the middle and down the seam of the field.
I can’t be mad at this selection as Emery really looks to be building around Jay Cutler; something former G.M. Jerry Angelo couldn’t seem to understand. Rodriguez should give Cutler a versatile weapon and a safety blanket out the back field when lined up as an H-Back.
6th round Isaiah Frey CB, Nevada
My Pick: Chase Ford TE, Miami
The departures of Corey Graham, Zach Bowman, and Joshua Moore made cornerback depth a glaring need. The Bears re-signed Tim Jennings, signed veterans Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite to one-year deals, and the latest draftee Frey in the sixth-round to add to the depth.
Frey has some fundamentals that still need some work, but he excels best in man coverage and has some ball-hawking ability. Frey will contribute early in his career on special teams as he develops at the position.
7th round Greg McCoy CB, TCU
My Pick: Josh Oglesby RT, Wisconsin
In the late rounds, you usually look for players who can excel at special teams, so the pick of Greg McCoy, who finishes ranked sixth in the nation in kickoff return average (30.6 yards) was solid. McCoy will have a chance to push free agent acquisition Devin Thomas for his spot on the KR depth chart.
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