2014 Chicago Bears Mock Draft (Pre Off-Season)
The Chicago Bears started off 3-0 in 2013 under Marc Trestman, but after inconsistent play and devastating injuries, the team finished just 8-8. The Bears only had to win one game of their final two to make the playoffs but they failed to do so.
The offense went from bottom of the pile in 2012 to the second highest scoring offense in the league just a year removed. For you the Bears franchise has been plagued by bad offensive play, in 2013 however, the issue flip flopped and now the team has a gaping hole in an old, injury riddled defense.
The defense finished in the bottom five in the league in total defense and dead last in the run game giving up a whopping 161.4 yards a game. What once was a top defense in the league, has now quickly become one of the league’s worst in just one year.
General Manager Phil Emery vowed to fix the offense when he first started his tenure in Chicago. Two years later he has now vowed to fix an over-aged defense that cost the team a division title and a competitive shot at the playoffs. With the signings of Jay Cutler, Tim Jennings, Matt Slauson, and Robbie Gould, the Bears have limited cap space available going in to the off-season. With contract negotiator Cliff Stein’s magic, the team holds $21 million worth of potential cuts in hand, along with the flexibility to flex any cap hit of the newly resigned players that signed in the previous two weeks.
The Bears could ultimately still have $35-45 million in cap space if Emery decides to do so. The focus will obviously be on the defense this off-season but with needs at center, a second tight end, and a speedy wide out, along with potentially a new punter, money and draft picks might go fast.
Emery will have the first of his decisions with resigning his own players, followed by the start of free agency on March 11th, before the May draft, but the Bears have some obvious needs that can be filled with young, talented players in the draft. The Bears will be picking at 14th in the first round but will be bumped up to 20th in the second and the pick rotation will get better from round to round after that. The team also does not have a 7th round pick, but did pick up an extra 6th rounder from Tampa Bay last off-season after unloading former first round pick Gabe Carimi.
Kony Ealy (Defensive End) Missouri
There is many different ways the Bears can go with this pick, including defense tackle, safety, corner or linebacker. I project that Julius Peppers will be cut, especially with $14 million in cap savings and even with Corey Wootton resigned the defensive end position may be the biggest need. At 6’5 and 270 pounds, Ealy has very long limbs, coupled with a good first step, burst, and overall strength. He is still a raw product but has reminded many of a Jason Pierre-Paul. Ealy finished with nine sacks, including two in his final game against Oklahoma State in the Cotton Bowl. A good combine showing could push him in to the top ten, much like Ziggy Ansah of last year, Ealy has a very high ceiling with the size and ability to become a top defensive end in the league. The Bears need pass rushers but also need help in the run game, Ealy brings both of those to the table. Clowney will get the attention but Ealy may not be far behind when the 2014 draft is said and done.
Dion Bailey (Free Safety) USC
The red-shirt junior has already earned his degree and announced on December 23rd, he was entering the NFL draft. At 6’1 and 205 pounds, Bailey has decent size but plays much bigger than his size. He is your prototypical “ball hawk”, Bailey had five picks, 61 tackles and 6.5 tackles for loss. Bailey was also named to All-Pac -12 second team in 2013. Many sources close to the team have predicted that the Bears will bring in two starting caliber safeties, with one competing with much maligned free safety Chris Conte. Bailey brings not only a bright future but a very possible immediate upgrade if the Bears decide to acquire a strong safety through free agency. A former linebacker, Bailey brings a hard hit with good tackling skills and good tendencies to create turnovers. Worst case scenario would be Conte initially winning the starting job but Bailey would be a good piece to the future of this defense.
Aaron Colvin (Cornerback) Oklahoma
Colvin brings good size at 6’0 1/2 feet tall and 192 pounds and has been Oklahoma’s best defensive back for the past few seasons. A senior, Colvin was fifth on the team with 49 tackles in 10 games this year. Colvin has very good instincts and ability, but has the tendency to get caught biting on play-fakes. Colvin is physical and well rounded against the pass and run. Sometimes he has been caught being over confident on tight passes but still lead his group of defensive backs to the Big 12’s number one defense in 2013. Colvin has good speed, which can help him keep up with the fast and physical receivers at the next level. Colvin could come in and push for a day one starting spot across from Tim Jennings.
Anthony Johnson (Defensive Tackle) LSU
At 6’2 and 300 pounds, Johnson’s size would be ideal for the current 4-3 set up the Bears run. Johnson is a strong and physical specimen that likes to bull rush the interior line and relies on his strength and toughness. Because of his strength, Johnson has the reputation for being a one trick pony. Just relying on strength, he lacks technique and proper hand placement. He is considered more of a developmental prospect but with the proper coaching and development, Johnson could become a wrecking ball at the tackle position. With his strength, speed, and explosion of the line, Johnson will command more double teams with better hand placement, pad level and overall technique. Chalk this pick up as a low risk, high reward type pick that will be well worth the mid-round pick.
Gabe Ikard (Center) Oklahoma
Ikard has become one of the better centers in college football over the past year, while flying under the radar with Travis Swanson and Brian Stork headlining the class. At 6’3 and 300 pounds, Ikard has added weight, while becoming more of a dominant force in the process. Ikard not only held his own against potential first round defensive tackle Louis Nix but got the better of the battle. Battling good competition most of his career, Ikard has had more good games than bad, while really solidifying himself over the past year as a consistent center. With Hroniss Grasu staying for his senior year, I have Ikard as the third best center prospect in the draft.
6th Round: (Via Tampa Bay)
Jalen Saunders (Wide Receiver) Oklahoma
At 5’9, Saunders is a small receiver with a ton of speed and versatility. He was quietly one of the better offensive weapon the Sooners had this year. The Bears have lacked a speed threat since they ended the Devin Hester experience and while Saunders may need to add weight and his durability may be affected by his size, Saunders could become a good slot receiver and be used as a situation deep threat.
Tom Hornsey (Punter) Memphis
With current punter Adam Podlesh grading out as Pro Football Focus’ worst punter in 2013, the Bears can save the money and add a better leg with their last pick. Hornsey won the Ray Guy award in 2013 and averaged 45.2 yards a punt with a long of 79. Has been consistent in his college career but has shown enough improvement to warrant a 6th round pick. He should be an immediate upgrade at a crucial special teams position.
- Aaron Leming is a Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.com
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