2013 NFL Mock Draft: Early Chicago Bears Prediction of All 7 Rounds
While the 2012 NFL season is entering the home stretch, it has become painfully obvious to almost every Bears fan that the team needs lots of help, particularly on the offensive line. That is not to say that there aren't additional needs for the team; it's just that the line sticks out like a sore thumb.
Or make that a sore neck, as in the sore neck that Jay Cutler is experiencing from the lack of protection he has received this season. In fact, with Cutler approaching age 30 and with a possible contract extension coming up, it only makes sense to protect your highest paid asset.
If the Bears don't, then Cutler might well end up on his, ahem, asset. However, the Bears aren't alone in needing help on the O-line.
According to ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr., five offensive tackles could go in the first round alone. All I know is one of them had better go to the Bears or I will not renew my subscription to be a Bears fans next season.
(Hey, who am I kidding? I am a Bears fan for life!)
With that said, I present to you my first version of the 2013 mock draft for your viewing pleasure. Feel free to agree, disagree, give me your own picks or just tell me to go away.
1st Round: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
Courtesy of draftbreakdown.com
I'm not quite ready to give up on Gabe Carimi just yet, though he certainly has looked awful at right tackle this season. He's been so bad, in fact, that the Bears have moved him to guard, where he has played better.
Still, if there is a true left tackle on the board when the Bears pick at No. 22, then they would be crazy not to take him. J'Marcus Webb just isn't working out. With that in mind, on my board Central Michigan's Eric Fisher is sitting there just ripe for the taking.
Chicago would love Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M, but the Outland Trophy winner will likely be drafted among the first five picks and potentially could even go No. 1 overall. Taylor Lewan from Michigan would be another solid pick at left tackle, but he is expected to be gone before the Bears pick.
So that leaves Fisher, and the Bears would be getting a 6'8", 305-pound senior who started all 12 games at LT and anchored an offensive line that averaged 6.2 yards per play, second best in the MAC.
Alternative selection: If Fisher is taken, or returns for his senior year, Jake Matthews of Texas A&M or Alabama's DJ Fluker would be solid alternatives.
2nd Round: Kevin Minter, MLB, LSU
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Now I know that many of you will clamor for an offensive lineman to be taken in the second round also, but if there is a middle linebacker candidate at this spot, I expect the Bears to jump at him. I personally don't think the Bears will bring back Brian Urlacher, and while Nick Roach is a serviceable player, he is not the future starter for this franchise.
The other option the Bears have is to move Shea McClellin to mike linebacker, but so far they insist that is not their plan and there is no certainty that would work out anyway. If I thought that Manti Te'o would still be there when the Bears pick in the first round, I might even suggest the Bears go that route.
Georgia's Alec Ogletree would be ideal, but he is expected to also go in Round 1, according to ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay.
With that in mind, in the second round the Bears draft Kevin Minter from LSU. The heart and soul of the LSU defense, Minter, a junior who would have to declare for the draft of course, led LSU with 101 tackles and has earned the SEC Defensive Player of the Week honor twice.
In his junior season, Minter recorded three sacks,14 tackles for loss, an interception and a fumble recovery. He would be too good to pass up.
Alternative selection: Minter's availability this late in the second round is very questionable. Otherwise, they could go with TE Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame (though he may be gone by then) or another offensive lineman, such as Lane Johnson of Oklahoma, Dallas Thomas from Tennessee or Kyle Long out of Oregon.
3rd Round (via Trade): Khaled Holmes, C, Southern California
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
The Bears traded their 2013 third-round pick to Miami in the Brandon Marshall trade, but they turn around and make a draft-day deal with the 49ers to acquire one of their third-round selections. In this mock trade, let's say the Bears either send a package of future picks or they send a player like Israel Idonije or Devin Hester to the Niners.
The Niners have two third-, two fifth- and two sixth-round picks, so I don't think they will miss one of them. Likewise, I don't think the Bears would miss Hester. He isn't a real wideout and doesn't make an impact in the return game anymore. Idonije may not come back anyway.
Meanwhile, unless Minter is not there in the second round and the Bears opt for another tackle in Round 2, they will turn around and use this pick to select more help for their beleaguered offensive line. This time a center, the top-ranked one according to CBSSports.com,
Holmes would allow the Bears to either cut Roberto Garza, use him with Holmes until Holmes is ready or move Garza back to guard.
Holmes has a big, wide body and he projects nicely at any of the three interior positions. He's a quick and powerful player at the point of attack, with tremendous upper body strength.
Alternative selection: Gabe Jackson, OG, Mississippi State.
4th Round: Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA
Hey look, tight ends can actually catch passes!
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
With their fourth-round selection, the Bears take a tight end who can actually catch the football. Fauria offers a combination of excellent size and athleticism. As a blocker, he needs work, as he has to learn that he can't just use his physicality to take on defenders.
Despite UCLA's issues at the QB position, Fauria became a standout for the Bruins, catching 39 passes for 481 yards and six TDs.
Alternative selection: Chris Gragg, TE, Arkansas, or Marcus Wheaton, WR, Oregon State.
5th Round: Xavier Nixon, OT, Florida
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
With their fifth-round pick, the Bears once again turn to the offensive line, taking Florida's huge Xavier Nixon, who would be a steal this late in the draft. Projected as a late fourth- to early fifth-round pick, if he falls this far, the Bears need to consider him.
That is not to say that Nixon is a sure thing, but then again very few players are this late in a draft. He's battled nagging injuries and inconsistency throughout his college career and probably projects as a right tackle or sliding over to one of the guard positions.
He's got long arms and a great frame and just needs to work on his mental and physical toughness at the next level.
Alternative selection: Michael Buchanan, DE, Illinois or Josh Boyd, DT, Mississippi State.
6th Round: Cory Grissom, DT, South Florida
Courtesy of espn.com
Grissom is a 6'2", 316-pound DT who had seven tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks on the year for South Florida.
The only reason he has fallen this far is his durability has been in question. He suffered a broken ankle in April, and he battled several injuries over his first two seasons.
But hey, the Bears could use depth on the defensive line, and you have to take some risks this late in the draft, especially when the upside is decent.
Alternative selection: Devin Taylor, DE, South Carolina or Anthony Rashad White, DT, Michigan State.
7th Round: Pick Traded to Tampa Bay
The Bears traded their seventh-round selection to the Tampa Bay Bucs for Brian Price.