Ranking the Top 5 Players on the Chicago Bears 2013 Draft Board
Sunday's win against the Arizona Cardinals put the Bears back in the playoff hunt, for now.
They will still need plenty of help to find their way into the playoffs, but it has almost all but been assured that they will not be picking in the 2013 NFL draft until at least the middle of the first round.
With so many holes and needs on this team, the Bears draft board will likely be large and diverse.
Here is my ranking of the top five players on the Chicago Bears 2013 draft board:
5.) Kenny Vaccaro, S, Texas
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Throughout Lovie Smith's tenure in Chicago, he has tried to upgrade the safety position, but has had his fair share of mistakes.
The current safety duo of Chris Conte and Major Wright has improved from last year to this year, but both still have weaknesses in their games that other teams can exploit.
If available when the Bears select in the first round, Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro may help solve some of the Bears' defensive issues.
At 6'1" 215 lbs., Vaccaro has great size, great speed and athleticism, and could play either safety position at the next level.
He has excelled in zone coverage, has shown great instincts, and has the speed to match up with a wide receiver and the strength to cover a tight end in the slot.
His versatility may allow the Bears to use him much like the Green Bay Packers use Charles Woodson. He can play the safety position in their base package and could slide to the nickelback position in passing situations.
It may be a stretch to select Vaccaro this high as some have him slotted as a second rounder, but a strong showing in the Alamo Bowl as well as strong performances at the Senior Bowl and combine could catapult him into the middle of the first round.
4.) Jonathan Cooper, G, North Carolina
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The entire offensive line has been a state of influx since Jay Cutler's arrival prior to the 2009 season. The biggest need along the offensive line is help at left tackle, but with so many injuries this season and the lack of depth, there is a strong case to be made that all positions are worthy of an upgrade.
Right guard Lance Louis was arguably the most consistent performer on the offensive line before an injury against the Minnesota Vikings cost him his season.
Louis will likely reclaim his position at right guard next season but left guard will still be a position that needs to be addressed. Chilo Rachal was brought in to hold down the position, but poor performance caused him to lose his starting job to Chris Spencer and ultimately played into his decision to leave the team.
An injury to Spencer caused backups Edwin Williams and James Brown to get time at the position but neither have been impressive enough to prove they can keep the position moving forward.
Taking a guard in the first round has become more of a trend in recent years and if one of the top tackles are not available when they select, North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper could be a great addition to the team.
Coopers' athleticism coupled with his explosiveness and quick feet, make him an ideal left guard in the NFL. He was a four-year starter at UNC and has the intangibles that many teams look for in a quality first round selection.
He has a reputation of not being the "nastiest" player on the field which can sometimes be viewed as a detriment for an offensive lineman, but his skills and abilities more than make up for his lack of "nastiness".
It would not be the flashiest pick of the draft but he has the ability and potential to start from day one and anchor the offensive line for the next decade.
3.) Alec Ogeltree, MLB, Georgia
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Few have shot up the draft board this season quite like Georgia's Alec Ogletree. The 6'3" 220 pound Junior inside linebacker has been one of the most consistent defensive players on a Georgia defense featuring All-American outside linebacker, Jarvis Jones.
Injuries have plagued Bears middle linebacker Brian Urlacher for much of the season following a knee injury at the end of last year and a hamstring injury just a few weeks ago against the Seattle Seahawks. With a contract that expires at the end of this season, it is unknown whether or not he will return next season.
Urlacher's unknown future with the organization will likely push the Bears to try and select his replacement.
It is unknown whether or not Ogletree will forgo his senior season for the NFL, but if he declares and is available when the Bears select, he could immediately become the heir apparent to a position held by one of the best linebackers of the last decade.
He is a converted safety who can cover both sidelines and has the speed to match up with speedy running backs. He excels against the run but will need to improve his tackling at the next level.
He will need to work more on his pass coverage skills to be a more all-around middle linebacker but some teams may view him as an outside pass rusher and could select him earlier than most teams expect.
2.) Tyler Eifert, TE, Notre Dame
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Despite all the problems along the offensive line and teams consistently trying to shutdown wide receiver Brandon Marshall, Bears tight end Kellen Davis has continually found himself open.
Unfortunately, he has not been able to turn his ability to get open into production.
The tight end fad has swept over the NFL with guys like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, and the ageless Tony Gonzalez making plays week in and week out, forcing opposing defenses to address the position as an area to stop, opening up more opportunities at other positions.
Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert has been one of the Irish's most productive offensive players this season, hauling in 44 catches for 624 yards and four touchdowns for an offense that has struggled at times this season.
Eifert is solid route runner with top level speed and an ability to catch the ball in traffic. His blocking is underrated and was a key cog in the Notre Dame running game.
His addition to the Bears roster would add another receiving threat alongside Brandon Marshall and could help spread the middle of the field.
1.) Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
For the past few seasons, the Bears have been trying to prove that J'Marcus Webb is an NFL caliber starting left tackle, and the for the past few seasons, he has failed to show much improvement.
Central Michigan left tackle, Eric Fisher, has drawn comparison to former Chippewas left tackle and current San Francisco 49er, Joe Staley.
Fisher's long arms, quick hands, and solid footwork are all reasons scouts believe he can excel at the next level. His strengths lie as a pass blocker but will need to improve in the running game as he tends to overextend and become too aggressive at times.
His large frame 6'8" 300 lbs., is a perfect fit at left tackle but he will need to bulk up more without losing his athleticism to face off against some of the NFL's premier pass rushers.
The sky is the limit given his upside and potential but he has struggled with maintaining his weight throughout his collegiate career and will likely need to bulk up another 15-20 pounds to be able to fend off stronger opponents.
If available in the first round, the Bears will be able to find a left tackle that can keep quarterback Jay Cutler upright at a more consistent pace than J'Marcus Webb.