At this point the draft boards are set. The exhaustive research has been done and the Chicago Bears have identified their needs and ranked and re-ranked prospects accordingly. However, that's not to say that the work is over.
From now until the Bears make their first selection in Thursday's NFL Draft, the front office will tirelessly work the phones looking for potential trading partners and gauging interest. Inevitably, that may be what makes or breaks this draft.
Last year, the Chicago Bears reached for Shea McClellin with the 19th pick in the first round of the 2012 NFL Draft. And while you can't really judge a draft class—or Shea McClellin, for that matter—after a single season, you can make a very fair argument that the franchise left significant value on the table last April.
The New England Patriots were in hot pursuit of Syracuse defensive end Chandler Jones, and inevitably made the jump to No. 20 to take him (one spot after the Bears picked McClellin). Suffice it to say, with the Bears in the market for a pass-rusher, as well, the Patriots most likely made a play for the 19th pick, and had they moved back they would have had a good shot at still getting Shea McClellin (or a comparable talent off the edge) while adding a mid-round draft pick.
This year, with a defensive roster that has a few too many 30-somethings for comfort, the Bears can't afford to leave any value on the table. So, as the Bears gauge interest throughout the day on Thursday, they'll have to be prepared to spring into action.
With the 20th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears would certainly seem willing to move back in the first round in an effort to add picks. However, whether or not they'll have suitors will largely depend upon what's available. The key may wind up being how the quarterbacks fall.
There are always several teams in the market for a quarterback, and in past year's we've seen a lot of teams try to vault to the top of the draft to take the quarterback of their choice. However, the relative weakness of the 2013 quarterback class has many interested in moving back to get their quarterback or trying to move back into the tail-end of the first round to do so.
Depending on when the quarterback run begins, the Bears could be sitting in a position of relative power by the time they go on the clock Thursday night. Ideally, the Bears would move back seven or eight spots and add a third or fourth round pick (remember, they don't currently have a third round pick) in the process.
With a pick in the mid-to-late twenties, the Chicago Bears should still be able to address a need in the interior of their offensive line or at linebacker, and an added mid-round pick gives the franchise a chance to add another immediate contributor into the fold. An additional pick may even give the Bears a chance to take a swing at quarterback with Jay Cutler entering a contract year.
Of course, if the Bears feel strongly about a player that's available at 20 then all bets are off. But, the contingency plans have already been put in place, and the franchise probably has a list of 3-5 players who they like a lot that should be available when they go on the clock. What's important is that they understand not only the value that they've put on a particular prospect, but the value other franchises place on that prospect, too.
If the Chicago Bears fall in love with a player who's available with the 20th pick, that's great. However, if you're relatively sure that player will be available at pick No. 27, why not get all the value you can?
Obviously there are no certainties when it comes to the NFL Draft, but that's why this seemingly quiet period is SO important. As Phil Emery buries himself in his cell phone throughout the course of the day, his ability to gauge the temperature of other front offices could be paramount to the success of Chicago's draft.
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