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2012 NFL Draft: Analyzing the Chicago Bears' 1st Round DE Prospects

Patrick BouskyCorrespondent IIIApril 10, 2012

2012 NFL Draft: Analyzing the Chicago Bears' 1st Round DE Prospects

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    Since free agency began, the Bears have focused almost entirely on the offensive side of the ball.  With the acquisition of Brandon Marshall essentially eliminating the chances of drafting a wide receiver in Round 1, it's widely thought that our next great area of need is on the defensive side of the ball.

    The defensive end position is something that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.  Izzy is great against the run, but as far as generating pressure, he's not very good.  It's pretty difficult to not obtain double-digit sacks when there is someone like Julius Peppers on the opposite side receiving double and triple teams.  

    We desperately need someone to utilize that lack of attention that Peppers causes, especially in a division where we play Aaron Rodgers and Matt Stafford twice a season.  In part three of four, we will look at the defensive ends that the Bears could very well draft 16 days from now.

Quinton Coples

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    Standing at 6'6", 284 lbs, Quinton Coples is an absolute beast.  Widely considered the top 4-3 defensive end in the draft, Coples has displayed his ability to perform the duties required from the defensive end position during all three years at North Carolina.  

    Coming into the combine, Coples was already considered a lock for being drafted in the first round of the draft and secured that status posting exceptional (though not a top performer in any) stats in almost every event.

    Scouts have found only one real negative in regards to Coples' game, and that's his motor.  People have noticed that when the games progress, Coples appears to go on auto-pilot and doesn't appear to give 100 percent at times.  Not giving 100 percent is always a huge issue with me as I'm sure it is with most fans.  

    Because of the issue with his motor and overall effort, Coples could fall to the Bears at pick 19, and if he is available he would be my top choice for a defensive end in the first round. If anyone can get the most out of Coples, it's playing alongside a future Hall of Famer in Julius Peppers, and arguably the best defensive line coach in the NFL.   

Whitney Mercilus

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    Whitney Mercilus had an amazing first year as a starter at the University of Illinois.  

    Having led the nation in sacks (19) and forced fumbles (nine), Mercilus caught the attention of NFL scouts who had virtually no idea who he was prior to his junior season.  He continued to impress at the combine, where he posted a blazing 4.68 in the 40-yard dash, as well as posting exceptional grades in all of the other events.

    Have you ever seen a 6'4", 261-lb man run a 4.68?  It's a pretty impressive thing to watch.

    Despite his stellar stats in his final collegiate year and his impressive showing at the combine, Mercilus doesn't come without risk.  Scouts have all taken note of his exceptional speed, high-motor playing and ability to play the rush outside.  Beyond that, they consider Mercilus' tackling in need of work.  

    He often uses his weight to bring players down as opposed to driving through them.  Additionally, his arm tackling is in need of coaching, as well as his vision.  Mercilus also has trouble with large linemen, and when he gets caught up with them sometimes seems to give up on the battle at the line.

    Mercilus has huge upside but also is a risk given his lack of experience, only having started one year in college.  He should be available for the Bears at pick 19, but I'm not sure the Bears should take such a large gamble with their first-round pick.

    What do you think B/R?

Nick Perry

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    Finally, we have Nick Perry.

    Perry did nothing but aid his draft stock at the combine, posting top times in the 40-yard dash (running a 4.64), vertical jump (despite being only 6'3") and the broad jump.  While most scouts suggest that Perry would be best suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Perry has the speed and strength the excel at the 4-3 end position as well.

    In his junior year, Perry recorded 9.5 sacks at the University of Southern California.  Even more impressive, in 2009 despite missing five games due to an injury, Perry recorded eight sacks.

    Scouts tout Perry's speed and burst off the ball, saying he has the strong base to shed blockers and has the ability to beat tackles with his power.  

    Perry did a good job developing his hands and spin moves while at USC, giving him additional tools to beat the line in the trenches.  His tackling skills are good, displaying the ability to bring down players when he reaches the ball.  Perry's ability to defend the run is unquestioned.

    His biggest area of concern is when he is faced with a double team he seems to shut down.  Additionally, scouts believe that he will have difficulty with larger linemen in the NFL, suggesting that he may be better suited for a 3-4 linebacker position where he will be able to come in faster towards the tackles.

    If the Bears consider drafting Perry, I would hope they considered trading back, as Perry isn't projected to be drafted until the 20s.

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