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Chicago Bears Offseason Plan: NFL draft

The 2014 NFL draft will be a crucial one for the Bears as they look to rebuild their defense.

The 2014 NFL draft will be a crucial one for the Bears as they look to rebuild their defense.

This is the final installment of my three-part series outlining my offseason plan if I was running the Chicago Bears.  In part one, I looked at current Bears I would cut, re-sign, and let walk.  In part two, I outlined players I would target in free agency.

Today, I’m going to focus on the draft.  Now, since it is impossible to know what players will be available in certain rounds, I am going to focus more on positions than specific players.  The only exception to that is in round one, which is easier to project (although still difficult).

After my moves in free agency, the biggest immediate holes on the Chicago Bears are at defensive end, safety, and center.  All three could use a rookie who is ready to come in and compete for a starting job with a replacement-level veteran, so those positions will be prioritized in the earlier rounds.

Defensive end Kony Ealy could help improve the Chicago Bears' pass rush in 2014.

Defensive end Kony Ealy could help improve the Chicago Bears’ pass rush in 2014.

Round one

The first thing I would look to do in round one is to trade down from pick 14.  There are any number of talented offensive players who should still be on the board at this point, and a number of teams right behind the Chicago Bears who should be looking to grab offense in round one (Pittsburgh at 15, Baltimore at 17, New York Jets at 18, Miami at 19, Arizona at 20).

I would shop the 14th pick around to all of these teams, hoping to pick up an extra third round pick in exchange for moving back.  When I do make my pick,

Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy is the choice.  He fills an immediate need at a position that does not have much depth, and is big enough to hold up as a 3-4 defensive end in hybrid fronts.  Ealy would step in as a starting defensive end, or the third defensive end who plays a large number of snaps, from day one.

A playmaking safety like Jimmy Ward would be a great addition to the Chicago Bears in the second round.

A playmaking safety like Jimmy Ward would be a great addition to the Chicago Bears in the second round.

Round two

In the second round I am looking for a safety who can compete with the incumbent Chris Conte for a starting job.  There are a number of safeties who are projected to go in this range.  My personal favorite of the bunch is Jimmy Ward from Northern Illinois, but I would also be happy with Washington State’s Deone Bucannon or USC’s Dion Bailey.

If all of the safeties I like in round two are gone by my pick, I would grab a cornerback instead and look to add a safety like LSU’s Craig Loston or Baylor’s Ahmad Dixon in round three.

Round three

Assuming I can snag a safety in round two, I would shift my attention to cornerback in the third round.  It is tough to say who might be available here, as there are at least a dozen prospects who have third round grades on them from various sources.  One player I particularly love is Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste, a bigger corner who would pair nicely with Tim Jennings, but the depth of the position could mean somebody projected to go in round two falls to me here.  I should have plenty of options for a solid cornerback at this point who can compete with Zach Bowman for a starting spot or otherwise provide depth and injury insurance.

A quality cornerback like Stanley Jean-Baptiste (16) should be there for the Chicago Bears in round three.

A quality cornerback like Stanley Jean-Baptiste (16) should be there for the Chicago Bears in round three.

If I was successfully able to trade down in round one for an extra third round pick, I would spend it on a defensive tackle here. One player I would love to get is Florida’s Dominique Easley, but like with cornerback there are a number of players who could be options here.  If I am unable to trade down, I would simply sign a veteran like Nate Collins to a minimum contract to be my fourth defensive tackle and provide some solid depth.

Round four

By this point in the draft it is completely impossible to project what players will still be available, as grades can vary widely.  But I would hope to grab a center in round four who could replace the departing (in my plan) Roberto Garza.  There are a few centers with third round grades who could fall, or otherwise several players projected to go somewhere in rounds four or five who would be worth grabbing here.  One player I particularly like is Oklahoma’s Gabe Ikard, but guys like Bryan Stork from FSU or Tyler Larson of Utah State could be considered as well.  Anybody selected would have the ability to earn an immediate starting job in the middle of an offensive line that otherwise returns intact.

Could a running back like Charles Sims fall to the Chicago Bears in round five?

Could a running back like Charles Sims fall to the Chicago Bears in round five?

Round five

After cutting running back Michael Bush earlier in the offseason, I need to find somebody here who can compete with Michael Ford to be Matt Forte’s top backup.  Like many positions in this years’ draft, the running back class is considered to be fairly deep, so there should be somebody solid available here.  I’m not going to bother naming any names, but no matter how the draft falls I should be able to find a back with the talent to be an NFL rusher.

Round six

The Chicago Bears currently have two picks in round six; they got Tampa Bay’s pick in exchange for offensive lineman Gabe Carimi last summer.  By this point in the draft, you are not expecting to get any instant contributors, although Chicago could look to grab a punter with one of these two picks after cutting Adam Podlesh earlier in the year.

My main goal here would be to grab players who I think have the physical ability to develop into solid contributors in a year or two.  Phil Emery has successfully pulled this off in the past with players like Isiah Frey, Marquess Wilson, and Cornelius Washington.  All three were 6th or 7th round picks who have the physical ability to play and even start in the NFL, but all three did little as rookies due to the need for physical and/or technical development.

The late rounds and undrafted free agency are when you look for players like Marquess Wilson who have the physical ability but need time to develop.

The late rounds and undrafted free agency are when you look for players like Marquess Wilson who have the physical ability but need time to develop.

Positions I would especially look for include offensive line, tight end, and wide receiver.  All three are pretty set at starters right now but have shaky depth.  A few players I would strongly consider if they were available are Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla and Oklahoma receiver Jalen Saunders, but it is possible somebody else I like who was projected to go before this falls to me here.

Undrafted free agency

This year is widely viewed as possibly the deepest draft in NFL history, owing largely to the record-setting number of underclassmen who entered it.  That means players who normally would be drafted in the later rounds will now become undrafted free agents, and I will take advantage of not having any seventh round picks to be actively calling several of them to work out a contract in the event they are not drafted.  Again, my emphasis would be on offensive depth, with an eye toward players who could sit for a year or two before becoming contributors.

Wrapping it up

So here you have it, my (very very) detailed plan outlining what I would do if I ran the Chicago Bears this offseason.  If you are curious, my theoretical depth chart based on these moves can be seen here. 

What do you think?  What would you do differently?  What would you do for your favorite team if you are unfortunate enough to root for somebody else?

Let me know in the comments below.

1598 comments
0125
0125 moderator

I love the steam room. Best part about workout

JJ44HuskersGBR
JJ44HuskersGBR

Lost in same round and both ended up watching on the couch..you dont get a fucking medal for losing to a better team.

mountaineerNOLAforce
mountaineerNOLAforce

@JJPK Creighton/Nebraska you are right .... we dont get a medal. But when you say we suck when we went down fighting and you went down being humiliated in front of your own crowd, there is some difference ....

JJ44HuskersGBR
JJ44HuskersGBR

Its a joke..take a damn joke. Thats why there is a winky face. Also 49ers were a hot team when we played them.

JJ44HuskersGBR
JJ44HuskersGBR

Who cares if people picked PHI or NO..irrelevant. no team cares about winning 1 playoff game

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

It's not like that's a bad thing or anything.

mountaineerNOLAforce
mountaineerNOLAforce

@Cam of Steel You know and I know that it's not true. p.s. If you think Brees is no longer in his prime, you should feel bad coz Brees outplayed Scam Newton last season ....

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

Brees in his prime wouldn't even get you 2, unless it's the Raiders.

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

You really think he's in his prime? Lol... Were you watching him perform on the road vs at home? Would 2009 Brees be that bad performance wise on the road? Not saying he can't play anymore but you are delusional, thinking he's still in his prime. And when were we talking aout Cam? he did what he had to, which was help Carolina make the playoffs, I could care less about Brees outperforming him with a great offensive minded coach and more weapons.

JJ44HuskersGBR
JJ44HuskersGBR

Brees isn't in his prime anymore. FACT. Cam has nada to do with Brees

mountaineerNOLAforce
mountaineerNOLAforce

@Cam of Steel Bad road performances were a blend of a terrible offensive line vs the defenses we played ...... and the 2011 Brees was better on the road. Also add in Sean Payton's below average play calling along with the injuries in our receiving corp ....

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

That still doesn't explain the significant drop off in touchdown to interception ratio, cause if injuries, bad oline play and bad play calling affects their road performance, then why is it that, the same problems don't occur at home?

mountaineerNOLAforce
mountaineerNOLAforce

@Cam of Steel Lol ..... 39 TDs to 12 INTs  vs 43 TDs to 19 INTs in 2012 .... keep up Cami .... and 4 of our 8 road games were against top 10 defenses ..... cmon man! all teams play better at home than on the road ....

Dr. Reginald
Dr. Reginald moderator

@Cam of Steel  Who knows. But you can't diffuse being in a prime by pointing to lack of production in one area, but ignore the total domination of the exact opposite of the same area. Now idk if this would be considered his prime or not. Idc really. But the argument being presented is flawed.

JJ44HuskersGBR
JJ44HuskersGBR

Cam hasn't reached his prime yet. So irrelevant point

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

Not entirely, because Lebron is in his prime but every year he improves another part of his game, because he has already lived up to his potential, you can't use that as a basis to his continued growth.

Dr. Reginald
Dr. Reginald moderator

Prime could be the wrong word, but saying they are past it makes it seem like they are lesser than they were in said "prime".


There has to be a word for it.

Dr. Reginald
Dr. Reginald moderator

I can agree with that. People look at age sometimes and just assume their prime is over.

But you normally don't see players past their prime, fighting for the top 2-3 spots in their position statistically.

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

Hey I was just pointing what I've seen from him in previous years on the road compared to this year, Saints have always been good at home statistically not saying the guy is in decline, just past his prime, unless he comes up with a Peyton Manning type regular season, Brees has reached his ceiling.

mountaineerNOLAforce
mountaineerNOLAforce

@Cam of Steel Peyton Manning like season comes once in a while. Aaron Rodgers is in his prime but even he will have to slog like hell to have a Peyton Manning like season.

Dr. Reginald
Dr. Reginald moderator

@Cam of Steel  But you can reach your ceiling and be in your prime.

Your prime doesn't end once you hit it. It usually ends after you can no longer get to it.

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

I guess my definition of "prime" is a bit different than that of yours, when a player is in his prime in my opinion is when they still have plenty of room to improve their game to another level... Guess I'm combining prime and ceiling together lol

Dr. Reginald
Dr. Reginald moderator

@Cam of Steel  Yeah I think there needs to be a better way of deciding and defining what "prime" would be lol.

gatrbuc 17
gatrbuc 17 moderator

Im going to play Soul Caliber with the Mrs.. Peace out my bruuddas.

mountaineerNOLAforce
mountaineerNOLAforce

The salary cap for 2014 rose by 10 million .... I fear the NFL might turn into the MLB one day ....dear god I hope not...

Cam Of Steel
Cam Of Steel

I was hoping for a 10 year 250 million dollar Brees contract, but he's too old now..Bummer