Draft Big Board
- Khalil Mack – LB, Buffalo
- Kony Ealy – DE, Missouri
- Ha’Sean Clinton – Dix-S, Alabama
- Justin Gilbert – CB, Oklahoma State
- C.J. Mosley – LB, Alabama
- Trent Murphy – DE/LB, Stanford
- Louis Nix – NT, Notre Dame
- Darqueze Dennard – CB, Michigan State
- Stephon Tuitt – DE, Notre Dame
- Ra’Shede Hageman – DT, Minnesota
- Timmy Jernigan – DT, Florida State
- Cyrus Kouandijo – OT, Alabama
- Marcus Roberson – CB, Florida
- Eric Ebron – TE, North Carolina
- Aaron Donald – DT, Pittsburgh
Prospect Spotlight: Justin Gilbert – CB, Oklahoma State
Strengths: A standout over his career as a corner and returner due to his agility, acceleration and ball-skills. Gilbert ability with the ball in his hands is among his greatest assets. He’s taken five kickoffs back for scores over his career.
Weaknesses: While terrifically athletic, Gilbert remains a bit lax in his technique.
My Analysis: Gilbert’s ball-skills and abilities have drawn comparisons to Arizona Cardinals’ shutdown corner Patrick Peterson. The OSU corner has good size for the position at 6-0, 200 pounds and the speed and quickness to go along with it.
Over his career with the Cowboys, Gilbert has excelled at press, man and zone coverage. He can re-direct WRs on their routes, has the speed to cover them on deeper routes and has great anticipation skills to close in on the ball while in zone coverage. Gilbert is also an electrifying kick returner who has five career TDs. He’s a threat to take it to the house every time the ball is in his hands because of speed and agility.
If the Chicago Bears are moving to more of a hybrid defense in 2014, they are going to need corners who excel in man coverage. Gilbert is not only capable of doing that, but he has all the skills to be lockdown corner throughout his career. The Bears have pressing needs along their defensive line, but if Justin Gilbert is there at pick No. 14, they have to strongly consider drafting the talented CB.
Chicago Bears Mock Draft
First round: Stephon Tuitt – DT/DE, Notre Dame: Even if the Bears bring back Henry Melton or Jeremiah Ratliff, or both, the interior of the defense can still be addressed. Stephen Paea has been inconsistent throughout his career and might be best as a rotational DT. With the Bears possibly playing in multiple fronts and playing more one-gap than two-gap, the defensive linemen they will target could be different from what they have targeted in past years.
Tuitt is one if not the most versatile DL coming into the 2014 NFL draft. In a 3-4 front, Tuitt can line up as a five-technique DE; showing the power and strength to hold up at the point of attack whether single or double teamed. In a 4-3, Tuitt’s quickness and burst makes him an ideal player to plug at three-technique. He also has the athleticism and quick first step to be a threat as a pass rusher off the edge in that front.
Tuitt is a very good explosive athlete for his size and would be a great piece to add to a rebuilt defensive line.
Second round: Stanley Jean-Baptiste – CB, Nebraska: Phil Emery did a great job re-signing Tim Jennings, as the veteran corner was one of the few bright spots on a struggling defense. Even though they re-signed Jennings, the Bears are severely lacking depth at the position and will need to find another starter to pair with him. Jean-Baptiste has risen up draft boards after having a solid Senior Bowl week.
Jean-Baptiste is a big physical corner at 6-2, 215 pounds, who can come up and jam WRs at the line of scrimmage. He’s shown the ability to turn and run with opposing WRs and has displayed great ball skills. If Jean-Baptiste is not coming up with the interception, he most times is deflecting passes against the opposing team’s QB.
Jean-Baptiste also showed the ability to play off-man coverage, showing great instincts to break on the ball quick and make a play. With Charles Tillman likely not coming back, the Bears need a big, physical corner who can deal with Calvin Johnson and Jordy Nelson in that division. If Jean-Baptiste falls to the Bears second round, it would be a huge steal for Emery.
Third round: Deone Bucannon – S, Washington State: Safeties Chris Conte and Major Wright simply took a step back in 2013. After having solid seasons in 2012, in which it looked like the Bears finally settled on a decent safety tandem, they both regressed tremendously. Both had their fair share of taking bad angles to the ball carrier, missing coverage assignments, or just simply being late to defend the pass.
With Wright a pending free agent and Conte’s status up in the air, the Bears are back to square one finding a new starting safety tandem.
This is a position that will need to be addressed both in free agency and the draft, and I tabbed Washington State’s Deone Buccannon as a solid prospect they could pick up in the third round. Buccannon is a talented all-around safety; he has good ball skills, can come up into the box and be solid in run support, he’s a solid tackler and a hard hitter. He is an ideal replacement for Wright at the SS position assuming they don’t bring him back in 2014.
Fourth round: De’Anthony Thomas – RB/WR, Oregon: Head coach Marc Trestman did wonders with the Bears’ offense in his first year. He got Jay Cutler to buy in into his system, with Cutler posting solid numbers in despite only playing in 11 games in 2013. He also got Josh McCown to play solid enough to create a small QB controversy. His system help RB Matt Forte put together his best season as a pro, and it also help WRs Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery arguably become the best WR tandem in 2013.
Trestman has the QB, the dynamic RB, best WR duo, a very solid starting TE and a promising OL group, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add another dynamic weapon. De’Anthony Thomas was a pure offensive weapon for the Oregon Ducks. Oregon’s offensive coordinator used Thomas in a variety of ways as a running back, utilizing his speed and quickness on the outside to create big plays, and as a slot WR, where he can be dangerous in space.
The thought of Marshall, Jeffery, Forte, Bennett and Thomas on the field at the same time is a defensive coordinator’s nightmare.
Fifth round: Jackson Jeffcoat – DE/OLB, Texas: When Emery said they were moving Shea McClellin to LB (likely Strong-side LB), they gave us a little insight as to what direction they are going on defense. If it is a hybrid defense, McClellin will likely be used as a standup rush LB who they will likely move around the line of scrimmage.
McClellin has the speed and athleticism to drop into coverage against some TEs and RBs coming out the backfield. Even with this positional switch, McClellin will need to have some competition in camp, and Jackson Jeffcoat would be an ideal person to compete and provide depth.
Jeffcoat is a decent pass rusher who could be used similarly to how the Seattle Seahawks use Bruce Irvin. Jeffcoat could get after the QB from the SLB or DE position in some formations. I know it would be a bit of a log jam for the Bears as far as young DEs who need time to develop, but Jeffcoat would be hard to pass up.
Sixth round: Colt Lyerla – TE, Oregon: Moving back to the offensive side of the ball, the Bears have one of the better TEs in the league in Martellus Bennett. The 6-6, 265 pound TE was a solid acquisition for the Bears, catching 65 passes for 759 yards and five touchdowns. He provided Jay Cutler a big target over the middle of the field and in the red zone. Despite success from Bennett, there’s not much depth behind him, specifically from a receiving standpoint.
Colt Lyerla had his fair share of off-the-field problems back at Oregon, but at this point in the draft, he’s worth a gamble. At 6-5, 246 pounds, Lyerla has the speed and size to create mismatches against opposing LBs and safeties. He also proved to be a solid red zone target, catching five TDs in 2012. Lyerla would be a decent developmental project to stash behind Bennett on the depth chart.
Sixth round: Dontae Johnson – CB, N.C. State: Another big corner for the Bears here with Johnson coming in at 6-2, 195 pounds. The Bears are lacking depth at the CB position with Tim Jennings, Isaiah Frey and Sherrick McManis being the only players under contract. The Bears will need to prioritize this position both in free agency and the draft.
Chicago Bears mock draft
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