NFL Draft 2012: 5 Players the Chicago Bears Would Love to Have
The Bears own the 19th overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft. The team has glaring holes in the receiving corps, in the secondary and on the offensive line. They could also add depth on the defensive line and to the linebackers.
The Bears made some noise during the free agency period, with the biggest addition coming in the form of Brandon Marshall. Chicago nearly persuaded defensive end Mario Williams to join the squad before he signed with the Buffalo Bills.
Plenty of the Bears' offseason has been spent discussing the future of running back Matt Forte, but Chicago has other issues to address. If the team inserts the right pieces and adds more overall depth to the roster, the Bears can be a dangerous team in the NFC.
The Monsters of the Midway have one pick in each of the draft's seven rounds. This will be general manager Phil Emery's first NFL draft with Chicago, and it is an important one for a team with a defense that isn't getting any younger.
The Bears started out 7-3 last season, but injuries to quarterback Jay Cutler and Forte derailed the season. Chicago already addressed the depth at these positions by adding two former Oakland Raiders in QB Jason Campbell and RB Michael Bush. The Bears lost five straight before winning their final game of the 2011-12 season against the Minnesota Vikings to finish 8-8.
Adding the right pieces in the draft and staying healthy next year could be the difference between the Bears making the NFL playoffs and watching the postseason at home. Here are five potential players that could make an immediate impact this season for Chicago.
WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
Since the end of the college football season, reports have surfaced that have linked Michael Floyd with the Chicago Bears as the potential 19th overall pick.
Even though the Bears have added Brandon Marshall, they could still afford to add more depth at the wide receiver position. But do the Bears really want to use a valuable first-round pick on a receiver when they have other needs to address?
Floyd is widely regarded as the second best wide receiver prospect in the draft behind Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon, but after a fantastic pro day at Notre Dame on April 3, experts believe that Floyd's stock is rapidly rising. There is a strong possibility that Floyd will not even be available at the No. 19 pick on draft day.
Bears receiver Johnny Knox suffered a nasty back injury last season, and his timetable for a return is unknown. If he is not ready for the year, then Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Dane Sanzenbacher are the team's top returning targets.
Insert Floyd in the No. 2 receiver slot alongside Marshall, and Jay Cutler would be one happy QB.
OT Mike Adams, Ohio State
Let's face it, Bears fans: J'Marcus Webb is not the answer at left tackle.
Sure, the Bears selected offensive tackle Gabe Carimi in the first round last year, and he played well before suffering a season-ending injury.
How good would the offensive line be with these two Big Ten products anchoring the tackle positions?
Adams is 6'7" and 323 pounds. He is the fourth-ranked offensive tackle on CBSSports.com's NFL Draft Prospects and projected to go at the end of round one or at the beginning of round two. If the Bears selected Adams with the No. 19 pick, it would be surprising; however, it would be a pick that could make Chicago's offensive line above average for a long time, considering the youth of Adams and Carimi.
There is little chance that Adams would fall all the way to the Bears' second-round pick at No. 50, but if he did, it would be extremely fortunate for Chicago.
CB Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
Even with the recent additions of cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite, the Bears can afford to add more depth to the secondary.
But is it worth a first-round pick to add the third CB this offseason to Chicago's roster?
Kirkpatrick is one of the best cover corners in the draft. He is a player that has Darelle Revis-type shutdown potential on the outside. Although he only had three interceptions in three years as a starter for the Crimson Tide, Kirkpatrick has the athleticism and speed to stick with almost any receiver in the NFL; he just has to learn how to play the ball better while it is in the air.
The Bears re-signed starting cornerback Tim Jennings to an extension, and Charles Tillman is coming off a Pro Bowl season, but Kirkpatrick has the potential to be better than both of these defensive backs in addition to the two recent free agent acquisitions mentioned above. Plus, Tillman is 31 years old, so his days as a starter are winding down.
Kirkpatrick is the second-rated cornerback and is 17th overall among draft prospects, according to CBSSports.com.
SS Brandon Taylor, LSU
Safety is another area of concern for the Bears, and this is a position that Chicago can address in the later rounds of the draft.
Projected to go in either the fourth or fifth round, Taylor could be a steal on the second day of the draft. He was a three-year starter for LSU and is a big hitter. In Lovie Smith's Cover 2 scheme, it is essential that the safeties are able to make tackles in the open field, and Taylor displayed that ability in the talented SEC. He is better at covering receivers than current Bears safeties Chris Conte and Craig Steltz.
Taylor is also good against the run and can fill the box. Recently, Bears safeties have either been good at covering the pass or the run, and they rarely have the skills to affect both areas of the game. Taylor is a smart player that has good ball skills, but he can also step up into the box and put a lick on big NFL running backs.
Bears safety Major Wright has had the opportunity to solidify his spot as a starter, but the coaching staff has not been overly pleased with his performance. Adding Taylor would create more competition for playing time in the secondary between the young players, which would be beneficial to Chicago.
DE Cam Johnson, Virginia
The Bears attempted to add a defensive end in free agency by making a push for Mario Williams and Jeremy Mincey, but they struck out. However, Chicago can still add a solid pass-rusher in the middle or late rounds of the draft.
Johnson is a player who would fit in well with the Bears defensive line. According to CBSSports.com's NFL draft rankings, Johnson is the 10th ranked defensive end and projected to be picked in the third or fourth rounds.
Johnson exhibits superior size, speed and strength. According to NEPatriotsDraft.com, Johnson's go-to move is the bull rush. Playing opposite of Julius Peppers, Johnson will get plenty of one-on-one opportunities on the edge. With the correct coaching, his bull-rush move could be disruptive against the run. With improvement of a first step off the snap, he has the speed to become an elite pass-rusher as well.
Even though there may be better options available, defensive end is not an absolute glaring need for the Bears. Israel Idonije has been solid opposite of Peppers, but Chicago has room for improvement at the position. Johnson is the perfect low-risk, high-reward selection for a third- or fourth-round pick.