Chicago Bears: Complete 2014 NFL Draft Wrap-Up and Analysis
General manager Phil Emery addressed plenty of needs in this draft, and the Bears hope to have found a handful of players who can contribute immediately in their rookie seasons.
To better understand how the 2014 draft went for the team, we will discuss the draft class as a whole, analyze Emery's best pick and worst pick, update you on all of their undrafted free-agent signings and take a look at how the 2014 draft class sets this team up for the future.
Here is our Chicago Bears complete 2014 NFL draft wrap-up and analysis.
- Round 1, Pick 14: Kyle Fuller, Cornerback, Virginia Tech
- Round 2, Pick 51: Ego Ferguson, Defensive Tackle, LSU
- Round 3, Pick 82: Will Sutton, Defensive Tackle, Arizona State
- Round 4, Pick 117: Ka'Deem Carey, Running Back, Arizona
- Round 4, Pick 131: Brock Vereen, Safety, Minnesota
- Round 6, Pick 183: David Fales, Quarterback, San Jose State
- Round 6, Pick 191: Pat O'Donnell, Punter, Miami
- Round 7, Pick 246: Charles Leno Jr., Tackle, Boise State
Emery has always been adamant about adding talent that has versatility, and he found a lot of versatility in the 2014 draft.
Second-round pick Ego Ferguson and third-round pick Will Sutton have the potential to greatly improve one of the worst defensive lines in the NFL from last season.
While Ferguson is viewed as more of a potential run-stopping nose tackle, he does have a quick first step and could develop into a player similar to Jeremiah Ratliff. Ratliff has the flexibility to play both the nose and 3-technique, and the Bears likely envision the same from Ferguson in the future.
The team got a steal in Sutton in the third round. In my opinion, Sutton was the best pick in this draft for the Bears. He has the versatility to rush the quarterback, and he can also anchor down and be a force against the run.
While finding potential versatility along the defensive line, Emery found even more in the secondary.
By drafting Kyle Fuller and Brock Vereen, the team instantly got better in the secondary. Fuller has the ability to play outside or inside at cornerback and has the flexibility to transition to free safety if necessary. In 36 career starts at Minnesota, Vereen started four games at left cornerback, 14 at right cornerback, seven at strong safety and 11 at free safety.
Fuller is a virtual lock for the team's nickelback position in 2014, barring an injury to Charles Tillman or Tim Jennings, and with the transition to more three- and four-wide receiver sets in the NFL, he should see extensive playing time.
Despite the safety position being wide open, Vereen will likely have a harder time becoming an immediate factor in his rookie season compared to Fuller.
The rest of Emery's draft was spent filling needs on both sides of the football.
Ka'Deem Carey appears to have the inside track to backing up running back Matt Forte this season. David Fales will have the opportunity to learn and develop behind quarterbacks Jay Cutler and Jordan Palmer. Pat O'Donnell will provide even more competition at the punter position. Lastly, Charles Leno Jr. will add another versatile offensive lineman who can push James Brown and Joe Long for the final backup spot along the offensive line.
Best Pick: Will Sutton
When it was the Bears turn to pick in the third round they were likely elated that Arizona State's Sutton was still available.
The team had already addressed the defensive tackle position a round earlier with Ferguson, but Sutton's value and upside were too tough to pass up.
Sutton likely dropped down many draft boards because of concerns over his weight. In 2013, he registered just 48 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, four sacks and three pass deflections compared to the 63 tackles, 23.5 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, five pass deflections and three forced fumbles he finished with in 2012.
One reason for his decline in play is because his weight jumped from 290 pounds to over 300 pounds from his junior to senior seasons.
He lost his explosiveness and struggled with his conditioning throughout much of his senior season. Despite his struggles in 2013, he repeated as the Pat Tillman Defensive Player of the Year and earned first-team All-American recognition by the Associated Press for the second year in a row.
The Bears have a need for a 3-technique defensive tackle who can get pressure on the quarterback, and Sutton believes he is that guy.
“I think that’s where I can excel at,” Sutton told the media in a teleconference. “I’m not really the big physical type of defensive lineman like people want to play that nose position. I am a physical guy, but my strength is at getting that one-on-one pass rush and penetrating.”
After weighing in at the NFL combine in February at 303 pounds, Sutton told the media that he is back down to 290 pounds. Phil Emery commented that he would like him to be between 285 and 295 pounds this season.
While Ferguson may be viewed as more of a project, Sutton has the ability to make an immediate impact in 2014 as long as he can maintain his weight. The Bears had a real need at the defensive tackle position, and Sutton has the ability to develop into a long-term solution at the position for years to come.
Worst Pick: Ego Ferguson
Just as one of Emery's picks at defensive tackle was, in my opinion, the best pick of this draft, his other selection at defensive tackle was his worst.
After selecting Fuller with the 14th overall pick in the first round, it seemed likely that Emery was going to address the need at safety or defensive tackle with the 51st overall pick.
When the Bears' pick came around in the second round Emery had a bevy of talent to choose from. If he wanted to once again look at the secondary, Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptise, Florida State's Terrence Brooks and Wisconsin's Dezmen Southward were all available. He instead choose to address the defensive tackle position. Instead of grabbing Missouri's Kony Ealy or Notre Dame's Louis Nix III, Emery selected LSU's Ferguson.
Ferguson certainly fills a need along the defensive line and his ability to stop the run will be a great addition, but Emery passed by some talented players who were still on the board.
He spent the first two years of his career backing up Bennie Logan at LSU and finished his three-year career with 85 tackles, five tackles for loss, one sack, three quarterback pressures and five pass deflections.
He has proved that he can be effective at times, but he still needs to work on his technique and may take more time to develop than Sutton.
Ego Ferguson is a classic Phil Emery pick. Big and athletic. Definitely raw though. A project in my opinion.— Adam Hoge (@AdamHoge) May 10, 2014
In retrospect, the pick is easier to accept considering they were able to grab Sutton in the third round. Emery left a lot of talent on the board at the time, and it may take a few years before Ferguson makes much of an impact on this team.
Undrafted Free Agents
Immediately following the conclusion of the NFL draft, all undrafted players are allowed to sign contracts with any team that offers them one.
The Bears have been busy since the draft ended and have signed nine undrafted free agents since Saturday night, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Jordan Lynch, Running Back, Northern Illinois
It would have been an uphill battle for Northern Illinois' Jordan Lynch to make this roster as a quarterback, but the Bears appear to like him more as a runner.
"You want as many athletes who can do as many things as possible, and he certainly presents options that way," Emery said of Lynch to the media in a press conference. "But the thing that I was really impressed with (was) just his skill as a runner."
If he can develop quickly, the team may be able to find a spot for him as a fullback/H-back.
James Dunbar, Tackle, TCU
NFLDraftScout.com has TCU's James Dunbar measured in at 6'5" and 311 pounds and was rated as its 38th-best tackle in this year's draft.
He will likely compete for a spot on the practice squad.
Lee Pegues, Defensive Tackle/End, East Carolina
The 6'2", 291-pound Lee Pegues has the versatility to play both defensive tackle and defensive end. The chances of him making the 53-man roster will be low with the additions of guys like Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young at defensive end and Ferguson and Sutton at defensive tackle.
Brandon Dunn, Defensive Tackle, Louisville
A former pupil of new assistant defensive line coach Clint Hurtt at Louisville, Brandon Dunn will compete with the likes of Ratliff, Stephen Paea, Nate Collins, Ferguson and Sutton for a roster spot.
In three seasons with the Cardinals, Dunn registered 87 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three sacks and two pass deflections.
Christian Jones, Linebacker, Florida State
One of the better players who went undrafted, Christian Jones likely has the best shot of making the 53-man roster this season out of all of the undrafted free agents the Bears have signed.
He has the versatility to play all three linebacker positions and also has the ability to rush the quarterback.
DeDe Lattimore, Linebacker, South Florida
South Florida's DeDe Lattimore has experience playing both middle and weak-side linebacker, but due to coverage limitations, he is likely a weak-side linebacker at best.
The Bears took Khaseem Greene in the fifth round last season and are likely still high on his ability to develop into the team's weak-side linebacker in the future.
If Lattimore wants to land a spot on the Bears roster, he'll have to prove that he has the ability to contribute on special teams at the next level.
Tana Patrick, Linebacker, Alabama
Alabama's Tana Patrick was rarely anything more than a spot starter for the Crimson Tide during his time in Tuscaloosa.
He registered just 39 tackles in four seasons, and he likely will be viewed as nothing more than a camp body for the Bears.
Ryan Groy, Guard, Wisconsin
A projected late-round selection, the Bears got good value in signing Wisconsin's Ryan Groy.
He measured in at the combine at 6'5" and 316 pounds and ran a 5.19 40-yard dash, via NFL.com. He showed his versatility while at Wisconsin, making starts at left tackle, left guard, center and fullback.
Cody Booth, Tackle, Temple
Cody Booth began his career at Temple as a tight end before being moved to left tackle his senior season.
Booth is similar to former Temple and Bears alum Steve Maneri. Maneri played tight end at Temple before transitioning into an offensive tackle/tight end hybrid in the NFL. He played in four games for the Bears last season before being released.
If Booth can prove that he can be a willing and capable blocker, he has a chance of making this roster as the team's blocking tight end.
What's Next for the Chicago Bears?
Now that the NFL draft is over, where do the Chicago Bears go from here?
The team had serious needs along the defensive line and at the cornerback position heading into the draft, and Emery did a nice job of solidifying those positions for the future.
Despite those additions, the team still has plenty of question marks at the safety position.
Fourth-round pick Vereen was the only safety drafted after it appeared that the team was more than likely going to draft a safety in the first two rounds.
Vereen will join a crowded safety group that will feature Ryan Mundy, Chris Conte, M.D. Jennings, Craig Steltz and Danny McCray all fighting for the two starting safety positions this summer.
The likelihood of the team signing a veteran safety now is low, but they could be in the market if a veteran is released anytime before the start of the 2014 season.
The 2014 NFL draft helped bolster a Bears defense that was already greatly improved during free agency, and if some of their draft picks can develop into major contributors in their rookie seasons, the Bears should have a real shot at making a playoff run in 2014.
All stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.com.
Matt Eurich is an NFL/Chicago Bears Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.