Biggest Questions the Chicago Bears Must Answer over Draft Week
Draft week is finally here. Months of scouting and preparing all comes down to this as the Chicago Bears look to finalize their big board and lock down their plan.
General manager Phil Emery knows there are still some questions heading into Thursday night. The Bears have to find at least two defensive starters but don't know if the guys they want will be on the board.
When to get a safety, picking a quarterback and running back and the curious case of Aaron Donald all highlight questions on Emery's mind. Here are the biggest questions for the Bears heading into the draft.
Will the Bears Find a Quarterback to Develop?
As of now, Jordan Palmer is the team's primary backup, and Phil Emery is OK with that. He recently made comments to support Palmer, but the Bears will likely be looking for a more long-term option in the draft.
With holes on defense and depth issues on offense, the Bears will likely wait until late in the draft to look for a quarterback. Can they find a decent option, or will a heavy run on signal-callers leave the cupboard dry?
Take guys like Aaron Murray, Jimmy Garoppolo and even AJ McCarron off the list. They will likely go within the first four rounds, leaving the Bears with less polished options.
Tajh Boyd, Brett Smith, Connor Shaw and Keith Wenning are realistic options. Wenning's good accuracy and ability to take care of the football are qualities the Bears will go for when looking for a backup.
Is It Time to Find Tillman's Replacement This Year or Wait One More?
It's great to see Charles Tillman back for another season, but it's also time to come to the realization this is likely his last go-around with the Bears.
The Bears will have an interesting decision to make. Do they grab a corner in this year's deep draft class or roll the dice and wait until next season?
It really depends on who is on the board when the Bears pick. If Justin Gilbert is on the board at 14, then it might be impossible to pass him up. Gilbert's speed, athleticism and ability to take it to the house at any moment make him the top corner in the draft.
Waiting in the later rounds is possible, but then you are looking at more of a project. Keith McGill, Bashaud Breeland, Stanley Jean-Baptiste and Dontae Johnson are all third-round options who will need some time to develop.
Drafting a corner isn't necessarily an immediate need. In addition to Tillman, Tim Jennings and Kelvin Hayden also re-signed, and the team still has Isaiah Frey. This could allow the Bears to wait another year if they aren't happy with the talent on the board.
What Round Will the Safety Come In?
The last image Bears fans have cemented in their head is one of Randall Cobb racing past Chris Conte to ultimately end the Bears' season and playoff hopes.
Since then, the Bears have brought in some new options via free agency, but none are rock solid starters. This is likely on purpose as the Bears will look to find a game-changing safety in the draft.
If the Bears are going to draft a safety, then it has to come in the first two rounds. There are plenty of options, but it comes down to who's on their big board and who's left by the time they are on the clock.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor are two first-round options. Clinton-Dix is a rangy ball-hawking free safety, while Pryor is a hard-hitting, in-the-box strong safety.
Jimmie Ward has first-round potential, and Deone Bucannon is firmly locked into the second round. There's no question these are the only four guys the Bears should be going after.
It will be interesting to see when the first guy comes off the board. If Clinton-Dix goes early, the Bears might be forced to grab Pryor at 14. They could roll the dice and see what happens in the second round.
Giving up a late draft pick to move up in the second round to grab Ward might be in the cards too. Either way, a safety needs to be drafted with one of their first two picks.
Can the Bears Find Some Offensive Depth?
Quarterback isn't the only offensive position the Bears could address. They need backups at running back, tight end and along the offensive line.
Running back is by far the most pressing need. The Bears have to find some help for Matt Forte, who was forced to shoulder a big load last season due to Michael Bush's ineffectiveness.
What once was considered a position of priority in the draft, running backs have now been largely relegated to the middle and late rounds. This clearly plays into the Bears' advantage.
The Bears can address their more pertinent needs in the first three rounds and still find a very talented running back.
Marion Grice is a great option who will fit well in the offense. He runs hard, makes quick cuts and catches the ball well out of the backfield. Grice should be available in the fourth round along with a host of other quality options.
Is Aaron Donald Worth Whatever It Takes to Get Him?
Aaron Donald and the Chicago Bears seem like a match made in heaven. They need a 3-technique tackle who can disrupt the line of scrimmage, and Donald practically lived in the backfield all last year at Pitt.
With Stephen Paea approaching free agency and Jeremiah Ratliff approaching an advanced age, there's no doubt Donald is the top choice for the Bears in the first round. The question is: Will he be there at 14?
If the Bears really believe Donald is their guy, then they might do whatever it takes to lock him in. This means they might have to leapfrog the Giants at 12 and closely monitor what the Cowboys are doing.
Donald is a premier pass-rusher from the inside. He fits in perfectly for what this defense is trying to do and can come in right away and make an impact. Getting a player like that might be worth giving up a mid- or late-round pick just to secure him.