Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for the Chicago Bears' Top 3 Picks
There's only one thing certain about the NFL draft: It never goes according to plan. Teams set up their big boards knowing they need to have a plan B, plan C and even plan D.
This draft is crucial for the Chicago Bears. Even though they have added a number of pieces in free agency, the defense still has a few holes. General manager Phil Emery has to start hitting on these defensive players he drafts or he will start to feel the heat.
It's important to play out the perfect scenarios and the bad ones so you can be prepared for either come draft time.
As we profile the vital first three rounds, we break down the best- and worst-case scenarios for each round.
Best-Case Scenario in Round 1
When you look at this Bears defense, you will see an improved unit, but there are still some holes. The Bears could use another starting-caliber safety, and they are still thin at defensive tackle.
The best-case scenario at the 14th pick is being able to choose from at least two impact players who can help this defense immediately.
It would be nice to see Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald and Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix still on the table.
Donald would fit in well on this revamped line. Going forward, he would be an excellent cornerstone up front to go with Lamarr Houston. Jared Allen and Jeremiah Ratliff are both aging players, and the Bears need to think about the future beyond them.
Clinton-Dix would give the Bears something they have lacked for a while now. Not since Mike Brown have the Bears had a player on the back end who can make quarterbacks pay for trying to go deep.
Do you want the impact pass-rusher from up the middle or the big-play safety who can take it to the house at any moment? Either way, both players would look great in a Bears jersey, and the decision on who to draft would be a good problem to have.
Worst-Case Scenario in Round 1
Picking 14th overall puts the Bears in a weird spot right in the middle of the first round. They could see upwards of four top players on their big board all fly off right in front of them.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Aaron Donald, Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and Michigan State cornerback Darqueze Dennard could all be drafted in succession right before the Bears pick.
In Matt Miller's recent mock draft, he has exactly that scenario going down. He then has the Bears selecting Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.
No knock on Jernigan, but he isn't the caliber of the four players mentioned above. He has the potential to be a very solid pro but doesn't have the star-power capability of the others.
Instead of selecting Jernigan, the Bears might opt to take a chance on Ohio State cornerback Bradley Roby. He has the size, speed and potential to be a top corner in this league. Most importantly, he can take his time developing into the role, as the Bears have one more year with Charles Tillman.
Best-Case Scenario in Round 2
Look for the Bears to go defense with their first two picks. If they go corner or defensive tackle in the first round, then they should go safety in the second.
Washington State strong safety Deone Bucannon has been on the Bears' radar since the Senior Bowl. The team visited with him there, and he recently traveled to Chicago to meet with the team again.
Bucannon is a starting-caliber safety with great instincts. He's a hard hitter who does a great job in stopping the run. The Bears could pair him with Ryan Mundy and feature a pair of talented and physical safeties.
Another outside scenario is Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III falling to the Bears in the second round. If he's on the board, then the team has an interesting choice to make.
Worst-Case Scenario in Round 2
In the immediate future, grabbing a safety is the most important thing for the Bears. They need to hit on one of these top four options. Clinton-Dix, Louisville's Calvin Pryor, Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward and Bucannon are the position's cream of the crop.
If they can't get one in the first round and all are off the table by the time they draft in the second, then that's a problem. Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon is solid, but he isn't as good as the top four. Dixon should go in the second round, but the Bears will likely pass on him.
Let's say the Bears go with a corner, like Roby, in the first round. Then they will likely look for that defensive tackle in the second round. Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman might be there, but it's more likely you will see Arizona State's Will Sutton still on the board.
Sutton is another pass-rusher from up the middle who would be the perfect replacement for the departed Henry Melton. He could benefit from having a ton of talent on the line around him.
Best-Case Scenario in Round 3
Last season we saw how important the backup quarterback could be. We also saw what a marginally talented player can do in Marc Trestman's system.
Cutler hasn't played a full year since his first season in Chicago back in 2009. Trestman knows if he wants his team to be successful, he will need only a small drop-off should the backup quarterback ever have to play.
As of now, Jordan Palmer is the backup. Palmer might be able to recreate some of the McCown magic, but it's highly unlikely. The Bears need a better option and would do back flips if Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron is available.
McCarron is a proven winner who is largely seen as just a game manager. Under Trestman's tutelage, he can be much more than that. McCarron would love learning from Trestman and throwing to guys like Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
Some might think drafting a backup in the third round is too high. If you believe that, then just think back to last year again. How many games would the Bears have won without their quality backup?
Worst-Case Scenario in Round 3
The draft is a ripple effect. What you do in the first round has a major impact on the rest of your picks. If the Bears miss on a particular position early because the players they wanted weren't there, then they would be forced to address the need later than wanted.
Keeping with the theme from the worst cases in the first two rounds, the Bears have a corner in the first and defensive tackle in the second but still no safety.
At this point in the draft, if you add a safety, he wouldn't be much better than what's already on the roster. Take USC free safety Dion Bailey for example. He has a ton of talent but makes similar mistakes as Chris Conte.
Let's say the Bears take Bailey in the third round. You now have a log jam of marginal players all competing for the same position. Bailey, Conte and free-agent acquisition M.D. Jennings would battle to see who wins, but really, it's the team that loses.