Every general manager has his own philosophy when it comes to the draft. Some believe it's right to draft the best talent on the board, while others take a player based on need. For the Bears, it should be a clear-cut decision: General manager Phil Emery needs to draft solely on talent this year.
Currently, the Bears have the 14th pick in the first round. They have five more picks after that including two in the sixth round. There are plenty of holes on this defense and plenty of picks to fill them.
Head coach Marc Trestman met with the media before the NFL Scouting Combine. He told reporters the Bears will have a "defense-oriented" draft. Expect the Bears to spend the majority of their picks on a defense that finished 30th in the league last season.
Fans and experts seem to have the Bears focused on a defensive tackle in the first round. Our own Matt Miller has the Bears drafting defensive tackle Aaron Donald out of Pittsburgh. Donald is a short, but powerful lineman who is skyrocketing up the draft boards right now.
Just a few weeks ago, Donald was looked upon as a late first-round, early second-round pick. Would he be a reach just because of a need? If so, then it's the wrong pick.
Defensive tackle is a position of need but so is defensive end, safety and cornerback. Donald has been impressive in various collegiate postseason displays but finds himself ranked 25th on Miller's overall big board.
There are key players on the big board ahead of Donald. Auburn defensive end Dee Ford, Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard, Louisville safety Calvin Pryor and cornerback Jason Verrett are all ahead of him.
The draft is a domino effect. A defensive tackle in the first round likely means a safety in the second, maybe a corner in the third and so on and so forth until all needs are addressed.
The wrong move in the first round could hamper the Bears from finding a good player in the second round. Case in point, if they draft a defensive tackle in the first round, they will likely pass on one in the second even though a very good value player might be staring them in the face.
There should be no rush to draft a position. There are multiple needs, and you don't want to set the franchise back with the wrong selection.
It has to come down to talent and how the player fits into the team's scheme. Kyle Long is the perfect example of how the idea works. Shea McClellin is an example of how it doesn't work.
Offensive line was a need last year, but the Bears opted for the talent rather than the position. Yes the Bears needed a guard, but right tackle figured to be a more glaring hole. Instead of reaching for Menelik Watson, who was the next offensive tackle taken, the Bears later found Jordan Mills in the fifth round who ended up being a high-value pick.
Look back at Shea McClellin, who was taken in the first round back in 2012. The Bears missed out on guard David DeCastro, linebacker Dont'a Hightower, safety Harrison Smith and, of course, defensive end Chandler Jones. All players have been more productive than McClellin and all were drafted after him. Jones has 17.5 sacks in his career, and McClellin is now switching positions.
Phil Emery and Marc Trestman need to take their blinders off while at the scouting combine. Focusing only on defensive tackle when it relates to their first-round pick is a mistake. The Bears need to think more like their Kyle Long and Alshon Jeffery picks and less like the McClellin pick.
There are 13 teams before the Bears who could make a mistake. A team could let a player like Justin Gilbert, Kony Ealy or even Anthony Barr slip through the cracks. There's no way the Bears can pass on top-10 talent because they need a defensive tackle.
Donald is not the only popular name early on. Florida State's Timmy Jernigan and Notre Dame's Louis Nixx III are also showing up in mock drafts. Both players find themselves rated behind Donald on Miller's big board.
The combine will shake up the big board, and the pro days will solidify it once and for all. There's still time to evaluate and re-evaluate all players before May's draft. The Bears must remain objective and focused throughout the process and execute on draft day.
What are your thoughts? Would you take a top pass-rusher like Dee Ford over a less talented Aaron Donald? Share your opinion in the comments section.
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