Last week, I woke up to the news that the Bears had signed Jared Allen. I was shocked because I thought that the Bears were done adding to the defensive end position. The addition of Allen on basically a 2 year deal, is a great bridge contract for the Bears so they can search for the next elite pass-rusher that is young. Despite being 32 years old, Allen can still bring double digit sacks to the Bears - adding an element to the Bears that was missing. Not only do they have run-stuffers in Young and Houston, who both have the ability to rush the passer even though their previous statistics do not demonstrate this, they have Allen who will cause offenses headaches.
With the draft quickly approaching, who do the Bears target? Before the signing of Jared Allen, many mock drafts had Aaron Donald going to the Bears at pick #14. With the addition of Allen, many thought that there may be a shift towards the secondary in the draft. While there really isn't a true starter for the Bears at either safety position, the Bears still must draft Aaron Donald.
Yes, he is smaller than most defensive tackles, but he can rush the passer. In this NFL, thats all you need. At first, I was amiss that the Bears did not resign Henry Melton, but they essentially used that money to get Allen. Still, there is a huge void in the middle of the defensive line. Jeremiah Ratliff is the presumed starter at the 3-technique, but the Bears would better themselves by selecting Aaron Donald and have Ratliff rotate with Donald and Paea.
This years draft has a lot of depth in the secondary, which will allow the Bears to get quality starters in the second, third, and even fourth rounds. The key to the draft is not just to draft for need, but to draft on need and value. After the first round of the draft, the depth of the DT position falls off significantly.The Bears can acquire good depth at the DT position in the second or third round (i.e. Dom Easly or Anthony Johnson), but the Bears don't need depth at the DT position. They have that. They need an impact player at that position and that is Aaron Donald.
Sure, Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor will help shore up the safety position, but players like Jimmie Ward or Deone Bucannon fit the Bears just as well. Ryan Mundy will be a great signing for the Bears, even though I was not convinced earlier. He has the versatility to play the free or strong safety position. Drafting Ward or Bucannon (who has a pretty cool name) will serve the needs of the Bears just as well as Pryor or Clinton-Dix.
While the signings of Young, Houston, and Allen give the Bears flexibility in the draft, I do not think that they can overlook Aaron Donald if he is there at 14 because he can truly impact a game. With pressure from each direction, the Bears can cover up any shoddy safety play as they did in 2012. After the first round, the Bears can address the safety position and grab future starters at the cornerback and linebacker positions.
Yes, the Bears need to look at the offensive side of the ball, but I do not expect an offensive draft pick until the lat rounds of the draft where the Bears can draft players and develop them for a year before they contribute or contribute minimally in 2014. I do like Storm Johnson, Colt Lyerla, and Bryan Stork as potential sixth round picks.
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