Redrafting the Chicago Bears' 2013 Draft
After a disappointing start for his first rookie class in 2012, Emery was under added pressure to find players who could contribute early for the team in 2013.
Emery found contributors along the offensive line in the first round with Kyle Long and again in the fifth round with Jordan Mills. The team will look to seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson to contribute more in 2014 after the rookie wide receiver saw limited playing time in his rookie season.
While the Bears still hold out hope on guys like linebackers Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene and defensive end Cornelius Washington, there were players available when those three were selected that could have made a bigger impact in 2013 and beyond for the team.
Here is a redraft of the Chicago Bears' 2013 draft.
Actual Pick: Kyle Long
Re-Draft Pick: Kyle Long
General manager Phil Emery's first pick of the 2013 draft was a bit questionable but Kyle Long performed extremely well in his rookie season in Chicago.
#Bears draft Offensive lineman Kyle Long who is considered a bit of a project, despite his football pedigree of NFL brother Kris & Dad— Peggy Kusinski (@peggykusinski) April 26, 2013
Long started all 16 games for the Bears at right guard and was named to the 2014 Pro Bowl.
The pick had some of the Chicago fan base grumbling because of Long's limited experience as a starter at Oregon and it was unknown how quickly he could develop. Despite his limited experience, Long seemingly improved on a week-to-week basis and was a key piece along a greatly improved Chicago offensive line in 2013.
Long may have been a reach at the time, but his strong offseason and terrific play during the regular season in 2013 will likely pay dividends for the Bears for years to come.
Actual Pick: Jon Bostic
Re-Draft Pick: Tyrann Mathieu
Drafted 50th overall, Florida's Jon Bostic saw extensive playing time for the Bears in 2013 after linebacker D.J. Williams was lost for the season with a ruptured pectoral muscle.
At the time of him being drafted, Bostic's scouting report on NFL.com said: "downhill Mike linebacker attacks lanes in the run game, often running through reach-blocks to get to his target. Immediately presses with hands on contact with good pad level to create space to work."
Despite the praise he received in that scouting report, Bostic struggled at times to read and react to plays, often hitting the wrong hole or finding himself out of position to make a play.
According to Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times, the Bears plan on having him compete with Shea McClellin for the strong-side linebacker position in training camp this summer. Bostic showed flashes and has the ability to become a full-time contributor to this team, but Tyrann Mathieu, who was chosen 19 picks later, may have been able to have a more immediate impact in 2013 than did Bostic.
Prior to the 2012 college season, Mathieu was kicked off of the LSU Tigers for violating team policy (multiple drug test failures) and was arrested on charges of marijuana possession and was later released, according to ESPN.com.
He declared for the NFL draft and was invited to the combine in February of 2013, where he impressed scouts with his 4.5 40-yard dash time.
Mathieu was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the third round and quickly became the team's starting nickelback.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller graded Mathieu as the league's third-best cornerback in 2014 in his B/R NFL 1000: Top 100 Cornerbacks piece, writing:
Mathieu excelled, no matter whom he was asked to cover. His quickness in space is jaw-dropping, and his instincts are both quick and accurate. He doesn’t guess wrong and shows the foot speed to jump routes and close on the ball. When targeted, he can make a play on the ball. When asked to eliminate receivers, Mathieu’s lack of elite size can hurt him over the top, but he’s dynamic in his lower body and fluid in his movements.
Mathieu could have immediately competed with Isaiah Frey to be Chicago's starting nickelback in 2013 and likely would have been in the running for the team's starting free safety job in 2014.
Actual Pick: Khaseem Greene
Re-Draft Pick: Devin Taylor
The former Big East Defensive Player of the Year, Khaseem Greene was viewed as more of a project for the Bears before injuries forced him onto the field in 2013.
Greene replaced Lance Briggs for a handful of games when Briggs went down with an injury during the middle of the season. Greene struggled to keep up with the pace of the NFL game and appeared to be more hurtful than helpful on defense at times.
Not far behind from Bostic's over pursuit, Khaseem Greene gets completely taken out, opening up an even bigger hole pic.twitter.com/Ox8IivhVQo— Matt Eurich (@MattEurich) December 12, 2013
He still is viewed as a project and should add value to the team in 2014 as a special teams contributor, but the Bears could have bolstered their defense line with former South Carolina Gamecock Devin Taylor.
Taylor was viewed as a project defensive end coming out of South Carolina but he found his way onto the field in 14 games for the Lions, registering 2.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
He is far from a finished product and the Lions expect him to have an impact in 2014 according to this tweet from the Detroit Free Press' Dave Birkett:
Teryl Austin said he expects "big improvement" from both Ziggy Ansah & Devin Taylor. Taylor reported last week heavier but in better shape— Dave Birkett (@davebirkett) April 15, 2014
While the Bears have improved their defensive end position with the additions of Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young this offseason, via ChicagoBears.com, Taylor would have been a nice piece to that defensive end puzzle.
Actual Pick: Jordan Mills
Re-Draft Pick: Jordan Mills
Jordan Mills started all 16 games for the Bears alongside Kyle Long at right tackle in 2013 after beating out veterans J'Marcus Webb, Jonathan Scott and Eben Britton in training camp.
He showed flashes but he struggled at times in pass protection, giving up the most quarterback hurries in the league with 62, according to Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Despite his flaws and struggles in pass protection, Mills is expected to continue to hold down the right tackle position as the team moves closer to training camp in late July.
He needs to improve in pass protection, particularly against counter moves and speed rushes as he tends to get himself off balance and out of positions at times.
For being a fifth round pick, the Bears found tremendous value in Mills and likely would not have found an equal contributor with anyone that was selected after him in 2013.
Actual Pick: Cornelius Washington
Re-Draft Pick: Michael Buchanan
It came as a surprise to some that Georgia outside linebacker/defensive end Cornelius Washington fell to the Bears in the sixth round of last year's draft.
Agreed. Could be scary as a pass-rusher. RT @seniorbowl: Thought CHI getting Cornelius Washington/UGa DE in 6th was "highway robbery".— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) April 30, 2013
Washington ended up appearing in just two games in 2013 for the Bears even though the team struggled at getting after the quarterback throughout the season.
The Bears never gave much explanation as to why Washington never saw action in 2013 but he will be fighting for playing time in 2014 against a much larger group of talented defensive ends than he did in 2013.
While Washington struggled to get on the field in 2013, Michael Buchanan, a seventh-round selection of the New England Patriots, registered two sacks in 15 games last season.
Buchanan struggled at times against the run but showed the ability to get after the quarterback when allowed to pin his ears back and rush the quarterback in third-and-long situations.
While there is talent there with Washington, he was never able to get on the field consistently in 2013 for a team that struggled to get pressure on the quarterback. Buchanan did not put up terribly impressive numbers, but he impressed the Patriots enough to allow him play a role in their defensive end rotation.
Actual Pick: Marquess Wilson
Re-Draft Pick: Marquess Wilson
Marquess Wilson dropped to the Bears in the seventh round following his fallout at Washington State University that ultimately led to him leaving the team.
That would be, um, bad. RT @Cougsgo Reliable source tells me that Marquess Wilson not only left last night's practice but has quit the team.— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) November 5, 2012
Wilson played in 10 games for the Bears in 2013, finishing with two receptions for 13 yards. The team plans on giving him a more expanded role, according to head coach Marc Trestman, who said, per the Chicago Tribune:
I think he showed that we can work with him and develop him. He’s got the football intelligence that we’re looking for and the ability to be flexible within the offense. He was consistent. So we’ll see how it goes.
I really want to talk about Marquess Wilson. He came down and trained with us the whole offseason. We’re really looking for him to do some big things. This guy, he’s probably the steal of the draft last year. I’m going to say that. He came in, he put in the work, he looks like a body builder. Fast, strong, explosive. I’m looking forward to seeing him in OTAs.
The Bears released Earl Bennett earlier this offseason, via ChicagoBears.com, leaving an opening for Wilson to earn the team's third wide receiver position.
He will have to compete with Domenik Hixon and Josh Morgan who were signed this offseason, via ChicagoBears.com, but he appears to be the team's front-runner heading into the 2014 draft.