The Chicago Bears 2014 NFL Draft is upon us! And I'm here to give you a comprehensive and extensive look into every position and prospect the Bears might be considering and why. Phil Emery will have seven picks this year, with no seventh rounder (two picks in the sixth).
The Bears are currently in position to pick fourteenth overall, but that could change should Emery be inclined to move up or down as we get closer and closer to their time on the clock. As for positional needs, it's basically a tossup as to where the Bears are looking specifically.
Emery did say in his pre-draft press conference a week ago that they've narrowed down the field of players they want in round one to six potential prospects, but those six players could be just about anything from defensive tackles to wide receivers.
With that in mind, here are my top-five overall positional needs for the Chicago Bears in this draft:
2. Defensive tackle
5. Running back
That’s me. But the Bears are definitely in the market for young defensive talent to start rebuilding a unit that was historically bad in 2013. Their first selection could realistically be any one of the top four positions on the above list; it’s all going to depend who is on the board at the time.
The heat of the moment is a factor. Immediate vs. future outlook is a factor. And while perhaps less likely, it is also a possibility that a position gets drafted that is not even on my list (TE, WR or QB).
It's a wide open draft for Emery and the Bears, and they can stay patient with the 14th overall selection. And it's not at all farfetched to think they will be picking later in round one with the amount of teams reportedly looking to move up.
The Bears will have the luxury of seeing how the first thirteen picks unfold before picking up the phone and fielding any calls from teams. If a certain prospect drops — Aaron Donald, let’s say — the Bears might be more inclined to draft him. But, if he's gone, along with other wanted prospects, we might expect Chicago to make some moves.
A major indication will be if the majority of the upper-tier quarterbacks are left in the middle of the first. If, say, Johnny Manziel were to fall, expect the Bears to field lots of calls from teams looking to draft a QB. It's open ended, and we have no clue what Phil Emery's plan going into draft day is or how it might change.
So that aside, let's take a look at some prospects. I'll start with the previously identified top positional needs and work my way down. These projections will be based on the Bears’ team needs along with overall talent and my evaluations of each individual prospect:
1. HaHa Clinton-Dix, Alabama
I chose Ha'sean over a player like Pryor simply because he will fit roles that I believe to be more important versus what Pryor would bring to the team. Clinton-Dix is 6'1”, 208 pounds and has been projected to be the first safety taken overall since he left Alabama. Haha is not a superb athlete, but he's got great length and good enough ball skills to play at a high level in this league.
Is he a transcendent prospect? At this point, he doesn't look like one, but for a player who can be more than enough to fill a need at a position, Clinton-Dix is that guy. His positives are he's solid in coverage and especially keen on the deep ball, which the Bears have struggled with. His coverage skills put him over the top, but he's a player who might not be there at 14.
2. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
Pryor was my pick in my first mock simply because I believe he'll be available when the Bears go on the clock. Pryor has a different skill-set than Clinton-Dix with less size and general skill, but he could fill a need that is perhaps more essential to the success of the Bears.
Pryor is a hard-hitting safety whose prowess is more in the run game than the passing game. He can still cover tight ends properly and is great overall in run protection. If both HaHa and Pryor are on the board at 14, it will come down to which style Emery wants to build around at safety.
3. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
Bucannon could be the steal of the draft if the Bears can land him in the second or even third round. He is overall solid in his approach as a safety, but he got lost behind more prominent prospects. His size and speed (4.49, 40) are among the best on this list, and he has the ability to play both strong and free safety if need be.
4. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
Jimmie Ward is a second-round, or trade-back, option if they can find a suitor. He's not a prospect who jumps out at you. His size at 5'11”, 195lbs is a little disconcerting, along with his durability issues, but as far as free safeties go, he might pan out to be the best one in this draft. Ward has tremendous ball skills and can defend multiple positions.
5. Terrance Brooks, Florida State
I look at Brooks as a question mark prospect, but he could be a nice pick in the third or even fourth round. Brooks is not huge, but he ran nearly a 4.3 at the combine. He'd fit in nicely as a developing free safety in the NFL.
1. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh
Donald is number one on my draft board and a player I think everyone would love to see at three-technique in 2014. His production in college and at the senior bowl speaks for itself. Never mind his size, his speed and strength make up for it. His ability to beat nearly every block in college is impressive, and I think he will build on that at the next level.
Donald is an immediate impact-type draft pick, and I believe him to be the third best defensive player behind Mack and Clowney.
2. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Jernigan would be a great fit in the middle of the Bears’ defense and would be a great value pick in the second round. In the first, he'd be a massive reach, but he could fall in the second. Jernigan has potential in both the pass and run game. He was dominant at Florida State at times and could definitely fill the need at three-technique immediately.
His off-field issues are a big worry, but at the same time they will push him further down the draft board.
3. Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota
Hageman has freak size and is a terror when he gets power behind his rush. At times he can look unblock able but doesn't have the sense or agility to get hits on the quarterback. Hageman is not a great fit at three-tech and is more suited to play in a nose tackle position.
4. Will Sutton, Arizona State
Sutton is a potential second round pick who is fast gaining interest around the league. Sutton is a great fit for the Bears, and maybe the best fit outside of Donald to fill the need at three-tech. His senior season has left general managers worried about that great explosiveness we've seen before, but he's getting back down to 300 pounds.
Sutton is a player who will add a pass rush element to the Bears if they draft him and could be a great depth player in 2014.
5. George Uko
Uko is another player who could come in as a fourth or fifth rounder and play three-tech. He's a smaller defensive tackle but has some potential to become a disruptive pass rusher if coached correctly, and if he adds more weight.
1. CJ Mosley, Alabama
Mosley fits in as the most logical choice at linebacker for the Bears and could potentially be among the top six players Emery has alluded to at pick 14. Mosley, as the top inside linebacker, fills a need that I think has gone somewhat unnoticed by Bears fans.
He could come in and fill the middle linebacker opening in the long term. Mosley has some concerns and could fall out of the first round, but expect him to be on the Bears’ radar throughout the first round and into Day 2.
2. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
Easily my favorite LB prospect from this class. His size isn't ideal, but this kid flies around the field and moves from end to end like not a lot of LBs can do. He could be a great fill-in once Briggs is gone at weakside linebacker.
Shazier just added 10 pounds and is quickly rising up draft boards. He could potentially land at 14 to the Bears, but that's a long shot.
3. Carl Bradford, Arizona State
Bradford is an impressive prospect with a great disruptive presence in both the pass rush and run game. He spent the majority of his time at Arizona State rushing the passer, but his skill set will allow him to possibly move into an inside linebacker roll because of his instincts and awareness.
As far as talent goes, he might be the most talented of any linebackers in this draft. Expect early to mid-second for Bradford.
4. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
Borland, outside of Mosley, is the most prepared to play at an ILB position next year. He won't need to be trained on the inside; he'll be able to come in and play immediately. The problem with Borland is his skill set doesn't necessarily match up with what the Bears are looking for on the inside.
Borland would be a great value pick in the third or fourth, where he's expected to go after the drop. He is mostly known for his run defense, and his years of experience will go a long way come training camp.
1. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
I would hope the Bears would seriously consider Justin Gilbert at 14 as the eventual replacement for Peanut Tillman. Gilbert has the size and skill to become a top CB and should be an excellent shutdown corner if put in the right system.
CB being a need in a year or two down the road, Gilbert might be passed up for a safety, but he's one of the better defensive prospects in this draft.
2. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
Fuller is a name being thrown around for two reasons: his length and style work as both a corner and potentially a safety, and his ability in man and zone coverage. Some look at Fuller as the top cornerback prospect in this draft, and he does have the tools to be great.
3. Jason Verrett, TCU
Verrett is extremely undersized and reminds me of a certain undersized Bears’ corner. He has great speed and reads plays well, which allows him to make plays on passes even when he's up against a larger, more physical receiver. He'll go late first to mid-second round, and while he might not be the corner the Bears are looking for, he could be a solid starter.
4. Keith McGill, Utah
McGill has safety size and length with average speed for a corner. He's a third-round pick who could slip into a safety spot if asked to. He's not great in coverage, but he certainly has the technique to become better.
1. Ka'Deem Carey, Arizona
The Bears are unlikely to spend a pick on a running back until after the fourth round, so we'll start with Carey. Ka'Deem was great at Arizona last season, and despite the fact that he's a little undersized, he would be a great backup to Forte. Carey is great as a receiver out of the backfield, and even without breakaway speed can pick up yards in chunks.
2. Charles Sims, West Virginia
Sims is a well-rounded back, with good speed and good size. Sims is a back who could go much earlier than the fourth round, but he could find himself falling due to the amount of RBs in this draft.
3. De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
Despite all the criticism Thomas has taken since the Combine and the overall concern with his size, I think Thomas could be a change-of-pace back in this league. If I had to guess, I would say he'll go undrafted at this point or sneak into the seventh round. His 4.50 Combine time is no indication of his breakaway speed.