Chicago Bears Huddle draft notebook: Hybrid defense on the way?

Chicago Bears Huddle draft notebook: Hybrid defense on the way?
Could Henry Melton return to the Bears in 2014, and would he be a fit in a hybrid defense?

Chicago Bears Draft Big Board

  1. Khalil Mack – DE/OLB, Buffalo
  2. Ha’Sean “Ha Ha” Clinton-Dix – Safety, Alabama
  3. Kony Ealy – DE, Missouri
  4. C.J. Mosley – LB, Alabama
  5. Louis Nix – NT, Notre Dame
  6. Darqueze Dennard – CB, Michigan State
  7. Stephon Tuitt – DL, Notre Dame
  8. Ra’Shede Hageman – DT, Minnesota
  9. Trent Murphy – DE/OLB, Stanford
  10. Justin Gilbert – CB, Oklahoma State
  11. Timmy Jernigan – DT, Florida State
  12. Taylor Lewan – RT, Michigan
  13. Cyrus Kouandijo – OT, Alabama
  14. Marcus Roberson – CB, Florida
  15. Cameron Erving – OT, Florida State

Analysis on mock drafts around the web

Mel Kiper of ESPN and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network: First round: Timmy Jernigan – DT, Florida State

My analysis: I like Timmy Jernigan, but not at pick number 14. However, with Combine and Pro Day workouts coming up in the coming months, a good athlete like Jernigan could see his stock rise. He’s already coming off a solid performance in the National Championship game, and with a good Combine showing and Pro Day workout could be a top 15 pick.

Jernigan is a stout run defender whose size at 6-2, 292 pounds helps him play with great leverage. His quickness, elusiveness and ability to keep blockers’ hands from getting into his body, helps him put pressure on opposing QBs. He’s a prototypical three-technique in a 4-3 defense who reminds me a lot of a young Jay Ratliff.

Walter Cherepinsky of Walter Football: First round: Darqueze Dennard – CB, Michigan

Walter’s analysis: Chicago was able to re-sign Tim Jennings recently, but Charles Tillman’s contract is expiring soon. The Bears have to deal with Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford twice per year, so they’ll definitely look to upgrade their secondary.

My analysis: Charles Tillman is a pending free agent, and although they re-signed Tim Jennings to a four-year deal a couple weeks ago, the defense still needs another starting corner, and preferably a big corner with solid man coverage skills. Dennard is not only capable of that, but he has the ability to shut down one side of the football field.

Dennard has ability to come up and jam WRs at the line of scrimmage, re-route WRs, and flip his hips to and run side-to-side with any type of receiver. Dennard would have big shoes to fill replacing arguably the best CB in franchise history, but he has all the tools to fill those shoes.

Charlie Campbell of Walter Football: First round: Khalil Mack – OLB, Buffalo

Campbell’s analysis: They need to improve their pass rush, and Phil Emery likes to draft explosive athletes in the early rounds. Mack isn’t a great fit for Mel Tucker’s Cover-2 defense, but neither was Shea McClellin when he was drafted for Lovie Smith a couple of years ago. Emery would upgrade the play-making ability of Chicago’s defense with Mack.

My analysis: Mack would be an ideal pick for Phil Emery who values explosive athletes and play-makers. What G.M. doesn’t? I like this pick, especially if the Bears are moving to a hybrid defense, where a player like Mack could move from DE to OLB in certain situations.

If there’s a current NFL player that Mack reminds me of it is San Francisco 49ers OLB Ahmad Brooks. Like Brooks, Mack is an all-around OLB who can defend the run, drop in coverage or get after the QB. Mack would be a great piece to build around.

Matt Miller from Bleacher Report: First round: C.J. Mosley – ILB, Alabama

My analysis: Phil Emery found out quickly that maybe Jon Bostic is not the future at MLB. Instead, he might be a better fit at outside LB, preferably on the weak-side. I certainly feel as though the Bears will bring back D.J. Williams, but if they don’t, they will be looking for a new MLB.

C.J. Mosley is hands-down the best inside LB in the draft class. He can drop into coverage and cover TEs, shed blocks well and is a disciplined LB in terms of gap responsibility. Mosley is one of the better athletes in this draft class with the instincts to go along with it.

Rob Rang of CBS Sports: First round: Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix – Safety, Alabama

My analysis: The last play-making safety the Bears had was Mike Brown, the rest have been flameouts, outside of a few solid seasons from Chris Harris. Clinton-Dix is the true ball-hawking safety this defense is missing. He’s a pure athlete who shows great speed and quickness to cover a lot of ground.

Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban has coached up Clinton-Dix to not just be an athlete at the FS position but a highly instinctive one to go along with his natural ball skills. Clinton-Dix also has the ability to come down and cover athletic TEs and slot WRs.

Phil Emery stated in his end-of-season press conference, “It’s about finding the best playmakers, the guys that can make a dynamic difference to our defense.” Clinton-Dix is one of the prospects in this draft class who fits Emery’s description.

Prospect spotlight: Stephon Tuitt – DE, Notre Dame

Strengths: Tantalizing upside. Highly athletic frame despite massive size. Impressive combination of length, power and surprising quickness. Scheme versatility for the 3-4 and 4-3, possessing the size of most interior linemen while maintaining the quickness to provide a rush off the edge.

Weaknesses: Arrived to 2013 fall camp out of shape following hernia surgery and struggled to dominate as he had as a sophomore. Lack of consistency was a concern as a junior.

Via Rob Rang of CBS Sports

The more and more I watch Stephon Tuitt, the more I like him as a prospect. When you see Tuitt you assume he’s strictly 4-3 DT or 3-4 DE, but because of his combination of athleticism, size and quickness, he’s a scheme versatile defender.

In a 4-3 he can kick inside and be a disruptive force in the middle of a defensive line or can kick outside at DE and use his quickness and strength to rush the QB from the edge. In a 3-4, he can line up as a five-technique DE and not only defend two gaps, but blow up plays pass the line of scrimmage and rush the passer from that spot.

Tuitt would be a great fit for Mel Tucker’s defense; a defense that I assume will be versatile in its fronts and blitz often to get to the QB. A versatile DL like Tuitt who can play in just about any defensive scheme would be nice addition to a Bears’ defense that lacks impact players up front.

Current personnel and draft prospects who fit a hybrid scheme

Current personnel:

Henry Melton: Has played DE and DT in the 4-3 and has the ability to stand up and rush the passer from a two-point stance. Melton would be very ideal d-linemen to implement in a hybrid front.

Jeremiah Ratliff: Played NT and DE in a 3-4 in his days in Dallas and has shown with the Bears that he can play either DT position in a 4-3.

Corey Wootton: Played in a 3-4 defense back at Northwestern, as he filled in at DE and some OLB. Wootton has shown that he can make plays at DE and DT in a 4-3 defense.

Shea McClellin: Has not adjusted well as primary a DE with his hand in the dirt, but the quickness, speed and athleticism are there for him to play OLB in some situations in a 2-4-5 nickel front.

Julius Peppers: Like Wootton, Tucker could use Peppers at primary DE and DT in some hybrid-like formations. If the Bears decide to keep Peppers that is potentially how they could use him.

Cornelius Washington: Played DE and OLB in a 3-4 back at Georgia and was drafted by the Bears to play LDE. Washington’s athleticism and speed off the edge make him an intriguing pass rush option.

David Bass: A seventh round pick by the Raiders, Bass was claimed off waivers by the Bears. Spent time this season playing DE, but the Raiders experimented with playing Bass as an OLB.

Lance Briggs: Briggs is a prototypical weak-side LB in a 4-3, but if the Bears move to a hybrid scheme, they would experiment with him at inside LB.

Jon Bostic: Played in a hybrid scheme at Florida and could potentially play SLB, but on nickel move inside. Bostic showed in college that he could be an effective blitzer, along with having the quickness and speed to drop in coverage. Needs to improve on shedding blocks and taking the right angles, but Bostic has the talent to be a solid LB in this league.

D.J. Williams: Scheme versatile, played in a 4-3 and 3-4 throughout his career. He also has experience playing in all three LB positions. Trestman expressed how much he was impressed with Williams this past season, so don’t be surprised if they attempt to bring him back.

Khassem Greene: At Rutgers, Greene was an effective blitzer, using his quickness and ability to dip under blockers’ shoulders to get around them and to the QB. Greene also has the ability to chase and find open running lanes to the ball carrier, and in coverage has the quickness and speed to cover the deep middle. Like Bostic, Greene needs to improve at taking on blocks and not to overrun plays. Greene will compete in 2014 for a starting spot at SLB.

Draft prospects

Ra’Shede Hageman – DT, Minnesota: A 6-6, 312 pound DT, Hageman has a combination of power and explosion that can often times overwhelm opposing OL. He also has the quickness to line up outside at DE and rush the passer. Scouts feel Hageman could play in both a 4-3 or 3-4 at NT or DE.

Louis Nix – NT, Notre Dame: Nix is a prototypical 3-4 NT, but scouts think that he can also be effective in the 4-3 also. At 6-3, 340 pounds, Nix was an immovable force for the Irish. For teams running multiple defensive fronts, Nix would be quite an addition.

Stephon Tuitt – DE, Notre Dame: Like Hageman, Tuitt is listed at 6-6, 312 pounds. The Difference is that Tuitt is slightly more athletic and quicker. Tuitt is a scheme versatile player who can play DE and DT in a 4-3 and play the five-technique DE role in a 3-4 front.

Dominique Easley – DE, Florida: With Florida running a hybrid defense, Easley has experience playing DE in both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts. He could also flex inside at DT in a 4-3 in obvious passing situations to create mismatches against opposing OGs.

Trent Murphy – DE/OLB, Stanford: Murphy took the college football nation by storm in 2013; tallying up 15 sacks, 24.5 tackles for a loss, 62 tackles, six passes batted, one forced fumble, and an interception. Murphy is an around DE/OLB who can get after the QB, defend run, and even have some athletic ability to drop into coverage. He would be a great fit for a team that runs multiple defensive fronts.

Marcus Smith – DE/OLB, Louisville: Smith is very effective getting to the QB (racked up 14.5 sacks in 2013, second in nation to Trent Murphy) whether it was from a three-point stance or two-point stance.

Michael Sam – DE/OLB, Missouri: Like Smith, Sam could rush the QB lined up as either a 3-4 OLB or 4-3 DE. He’s not the most athletic pass rusher in the world, but that doesn’t stop him from getting to the QB.

Filed under: Draft Notebook

Tags: Chicago Bears

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