Chicago Bears Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

Zach Kruse@@zachkruse2Senior Analyst IMay 7, 2014

Chicago Bears Ultimate 2014 Draft Primer

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    USA TODAY Sports

    General manager Phil Emery and the Chicago Bears will be tasked with invigorating an aging, depleted defense and filling in the gaps on an otherwise dominant offense during the 2014 NFL draft. 

    A handful of strong selections, especially on the defensive side of the football, could position the Bears as a contender in the NFC North and a serious playoff team in the conference. The team returns a strong offense that averaged over 27 points a game, and a defense that let down the Bears so often in 2013 has added several reinforcements through free agency. 

    Emery will have seven picks, including the No. 14 overall selection in the first round, to complete his offseason overhaul. 

    In the following slides, we will provide a full 2014 draft primer for the Chicago Bears, with a complete order of draft picks, positional big board and information and analysis on all seven rounds.

List of 2014 Draft Picks

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    Charles Rex Arbogast
    • First round, 14th overall (1.14)
    • Second round, 51st overall (2.51)
    • Third round, 82nd overall (3.82)
    • Fourth round, 117th overall (4.117)
    • Fifth round, 156th overall (5.156)
    • Sixth round, 183rd overall (6.183, trade with Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
    • Sixth round, 191st overall (6.191)

    The Bears received a 2014 sixth-round pick from the Buccaneers in exchange for offensive lineman Gabe Carimi last summer. Chicago also dealt its only seventh-round pick to the Dallas Cowboys for tight end Dante Rosario. The team was not awarded a compensatory pick. 

Position-by-Position Big Board

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    Note: Position rankings are not based solely on ability. Skill sets, availability and when the team is expected to target the position also factor in. For example, the Bears won't be selecting a quarterback in the first round, so none of the top players at the position are listed on the big board.

    Quarterback (Position need: low)

    1. Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
    2. Tom Savage, Pitt
    3. A.J. McCarron, Alabama
    4. David Fales, San Jose State
    5. Tommy Rees, Notre Dame

    Running Back (Moderate)

    1. Isaiah Crowell, Alabama State
    2. Devonta Freeman, Florida State
    3. De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
    4. Marion Grice, Arizona State
    5. James White, Wisconsin 

    Receiver (Somewhat low)

    1. Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin
    2. Bruce Ellington, South Carolina
    3. Jarvis Landry, LSU
    4. Josh Huff, Oregon
    5. T.J. Jones, Notre Dame

    Tight End (Low)

    1. C.J. Fiedorowicz, Iowa
    2. Colt Lyerla, Oregon
    3. Crockett Gillmore, Colorado State
    4. Marcel Jensen, Fresno State

    Offensive Line (Low)

    1. OT Jack Mewhort, Ohio State
    2. T/G Dakota Dozier, Furman
    3. T/G/C Wesley Johnson, Vanderbilt
    4. G/C Ryan Groy, Wisconsin
    5. G Russell Bodine, UNC

    Defensive Line (High)

    1. Aaron Donald, Pitt
    2. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
    3. Louis Nix, Notre Dame
    4. Kony Ealy, Missouri 
    5. Dominique Easley, Florida
    6. Will Sutton, Arizona State

    Linebacker (High)

    1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama
    2. Ryan Shazier, Ohio State
    3. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
    4. Shayne Skov, Stanford
    5. Christian Jones, Florida State
    6. Jordan Tripp, Montana

    Cornerback (High)

    1. Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
    2. Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State
    3. Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
    4. Lamarcus Joyner, Florida State
    5. Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
    6. Bashaud Breeland, Clemson 

    Safety (High)

    1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
    2. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
    3. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
    4. Terrence Brooks, Florida State
    5. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
    6. Craig Loston, LSU

First Round, 14th Overall

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: S, DT, LB, CB

    Maybe no team in the entire first round is more locked into taking a defensive player than the Bears, who have holes at every level of the defense and no significant needs on offense. Given Chicago's holes and the likelihood of an impactful defensive player being available, it would come as a major shock if the Bears reversed course and went offense at No. 14 overall. 

    Phil Emery could really select a player at any level of the defense in the first round and fill a need. 

    A safety like Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Louisville's Calvin Pryor would be an immediate starter at the backend. The team needs to replace Henry Melton at the 3-technique, where Pitt's Aaron Donald will enter the NFL with dominant qualities. The middle linebacker position is not solved long-term, but Alabama's C.J. Mosley could fix the issue. Ohio State's Ryan Shazier can play inside or learn from Lance Briggs to be Chicago's next big thing on the outside. And at cornerback, a long, playmaking option like Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller would provide youth and versatility to a position that could use more of both. Justin Gilbert from Oklahoma State is physically talented with explosive return potential (Devin Hester's replacement?). 

    The Bears are going to take a defensive player at No. 14. The only pertinent question is what position Emery decides to address. He should have plenty of good options in the first round for continuing his defensive makeover. 

Second Round, 51st Overall

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: S, DT, LB, CB

    The same needs should apply to Chicago's second pick, with the lone exception of which ever position the Bears decide to fix in the first round. It is again difficult to envision Phil Emery bypassing the opportunity to help his defense with a high pick. 

    If the Bears decide to go with a safety at No. 14, second-round options will include a defensive tackle such as Arizona State's Will Sutton or Florida's Dominique Easley, an end in the mold of Kony Ealy, a linebacker like Wisconsin's Chris Borland or a cornerback/safety hybrid such as Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner. 

    Sutton and Easley both have disruptive styles that fit in Henry Melton's old role. Ealy is an athletic edge-rusher. Borland is a tackling and turnover machine who could start immediately at inside linebacker. Joyner is undersized but always around the football, in the mold of a younger, smaller Charles Tillman. 

    If safety is not the pick, the Bears could then address their biggest weakness at No. 51 overall with Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward or Florida State's Terrence Brooks. Ward and Brooks are both fast and versatile safeties with top-notch coverage abilities. 

    The dark horse of Chicago's second round could potentially be a receiver, but only if a perfect fit and value—such as LSU's Odell Beckham, Oregon State's Brandin Cooks or USC's Marqise Lee—fell to the 51st pick. Such a scenario still seems very unlikely.

Third Round, 82nd Overall

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: S, LB, DT, CB, WR, RB

    Chicago's needs could extend somewhat as we enter the middle rounds. If defenders are selected in the first and second rounds, the Bears might feel some freedom to take a receiver or running back—two potential offensive needs—in the third round. 

    The smart money is still on Chicago using its first three picks (at least) on defense. Quality players at all of the defensive need positions should still be available in the third round. 

    Lindenwood's Pierre Desir and Clemson's Bashaud Breeland are both attractive options as young, athletic boundary cornerbacks. Safety starts to thin beyond the first two rounds, but Washington State's Deone Bucannon, USC's Dion Bailey, Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler, Stanford's Ed Reynolds and LSU's Craig Loston are middle-round alternatives. Montana's Jordan Tripp is a fast-rising linebacker prospect who might fit either on the inside or outside. Along the defensive line, Kelcy Quarles of South Carolina has some similarities to new Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston. He could provide help for the interior pass rush. 

    Receiver and running back feel like the most likely offensive needs. A ridiculous number of receivers figure to have impact from this class, but a slot wizard like Jared Abbrederis could be a perfect complement to Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall. At running back, Florida State's Devonta Freeman has the skill set to immediately back up starter Matt Forte

Fourth Round, 117th Overall

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: DEF, RB, WR, TE, OL

    Skill positions on offense will eventually become a priority, with Matt Forte lacking a true backup, the receiving depth chart unsettled after Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall and no complement tight end set in stone behind Martellus Bennett. 

    Most NFL teams generally invest in the offensive line at some point in every draft, too. 

    Forte's ideal backup would be a versatile back with an ability to catch the football and cause problems in space. Think De'Anthony Thomas from Oregon or Marion Grice from Arizona State. The Bears may also target a bigger back in the mold of the departed Michael Bush. 

    Marquess Wilson has the first crack at the No. 3 receiver spot, but the Bears don't have to sit on their hands and hope he just takes the opportunity. Targeting a true slot receiver could be high on Chicago's list, especially after losing Earl Bennett. Jarvis Landry of LSU would be a legitimate steal this late in the draft.

    Tight end is another skill position possibility. Oregon's Colt Lyerla has tantalizing athleticism, but also worrisome off-the-field concerns. However, he was a college teammate of Chicago's 2013 first-round pick Kyle Long. 

    Of course, defense will remain a priority, even this deep into the draft. And it's not unheard for a team in need of help to go defense-heavy to start a draft: In 2011, the Green Bay Packers took a defensive player with their first six picks. 

Fifth Round, 156th Overall

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    Team Needs: DEF

    The Bears can go a number of ways this deep into the draft.

    If for any reason Chicago does not find a player to fit its primary defensive needs, the fifth round could provide answers. 

    Khyri Thornton of Southern Miss is a potential hidden gem of the defensive line class. He has starter potential. Wyoming safety Marqueston Huff played both cornerback and free safety in college, giving him versatility and staying power. Walt Aikens is a small school cornerback, hailing from Liberty, but he has great size and a high upside. Cal's Khairi Fortt would add intriguing depth at linebacker. 

    Keep in mind, the Bears are surprisingly old on defense. Lance Briggs, Jared Allen, Charles Tillman, D.J. Williams and Tim Jennings are 30 or older. The fifth round isn't a sexy time during the draft, but it is important for building young depth and gambling on talent that could eventually replacing aging stars. 

Sixth Round, 183rd Overall

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Team Needs: QB, DEF

    The Bears have a franchise quarterback in $100-million man Jay Cutler, but a hole developed behind him with the departure of backup Josh McCown in free agency. Jordan Palmer might slide into the No. 2 spot, but the Bears would do well to find a quarterback worth developing in Marc Trestman's offense.

    The sixth round feels like an ideal time to address the position. 

    An enticing physical specimen such as Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas or Pitt's Tom Savage is likely to be gone, but Trestman—the quarterback whisperer—doesn't need a player with a huge arm or tall frame to make the position work. Although it should be noted, Trestman could do wonders with both Thomas and Savage.

    A player like David Fales of San Jose State might do just fine. He's a quick-decision passer who is accurate to all levels and fearless to attack down the field. He just doesn't have great size or a big arm. 

    Other options late in the draft include Ball State's Keith Wenning or Wyoming's Brett Smith. Even a quarterback such as Alabama's A.J. McCarron or Georgia's Aaron Murray could fit in with Trestman. 

Sixth Round, 191st Overall

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    Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    Team Needs: Anything

    Team needs mostly go out the window at this point. In its later stages, the draft becomes an exercise in diamond-in-the-rough hunting. 

    Here are some various names to consider with Chicago's final pick:

    • WR John Brown, Pittsburg State: Small but explosive receiver, capable of playing the slot. 
    • QB Connor Shaw, South Carolina: Not great size, but athletic and tough as nails. 
    • LB Brock Coyle, Montana: Huge college production and the potential as an NFL middle linebacker.
    • S Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin: Highly experienced and athletic combo safety. 
    • DE Shaq Barrett, Colorado State: Big upside as an flexible edge-rusher. 

Latest Draft Buzz

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The latest draft buzz surrounding the Bears:

    • Keep an eye on Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller at No. 14 overall. As Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune points out, Fuller had an official visit with the Bears and an on-campus workout in front of the team. Chicago clearly likes him. He's slowly crept up draft boards, with some labeling him as the best at the position. A strong fit with the Bears, Fuller has the length, anticipation and coverage versatility to be a major asset in the receiver-heavy NFC North. 
    • Is more help coming for the Bears defensive line? Per Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, the Bears have met twice with Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy. Chicago has signed three defensive ends this offseason, but you can never have enough edge-rushers. He might be a second-round option. 
    • Will the Bears take a developmental quarterback? It certainly doesn't sound like it. As general manager Phil Emery told Jeff Dickerson of ESPN Chicago, late-round picks don't typically pan out as backups. It usually takes a high pick to hit at the position. While smokescreens can be heavy this time of year, there's no reason not to believe what Emery is saying. General managers don't generally hide a desire to take a late-round quarterback. Maybe Jordan Palmer and Jerrod Johnson are good enough behind Jay Cutler.
    • Has Timmy Jernigan taken himself out of the running at No. 14 overall? According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, Jernigan failed his drug test at the combine. It's a black eye for the draft stock of a boom-or-bust player. The Bears can probably safely pass on the Florida State defensive lineman in the first round. 
    • Might the Bears draft a cornerback and move him to safety? Emery has appeared open to the idea, per Kevin Fishbain of "We’ve looked at every corner that has length as a possible safety,” Emery said. The Bears prefer a cornerback hybrid because of the increase in coverage responsibilities of the position. A few "length" cornerbacks mentioned include Keith McGill, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Antone Exum. 

Official Player Visits

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The following players have made official predraft visits with the Bears, per Pro Football Talk:

    • S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
    • CB Pierre Desir, Lindenwood
    • CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech
    • DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
    • DL Louis Nix, Notre Dame
    • S Calvin Pryor, Louisville
    • QB Tommy Rees, Notre Dame
    • DL Will Sutton, Arizona State
    • RB De'Anthony Thomas, Oregon
    • RB James White, Wisconsin