The last time I did a Chicago Bears mock draft, general manager Phil Emery made his splash on day one of free agency by signing Lamarr Houston, among others. Since, Emery has added free agent defensive end Jared Allen, and has brought back fan favorite cornerback Charles Tillman. To date, the Chicago Bears have added 14 players on defense, nine of which were on the team last season.
It is safe to say that the free agent signings and re-signings will give Emery and his staff a much broader plan for draft weekend. The team still needs to get younger on defense, and consider upgrades on offense. Yes, the offense was fantastic last season, but there are holes at numerous backup positions that include quarterback and running back.
Will the Chicago Bears focus on one side of the ball? Will Phil Emery surprise fans for a third straight draft with a pick no one projected? Here are my choices if I were him, assuming no draft picks are traded.
1st Round, No. 14: Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Safety- The Bears will have the option of taking the best available defensive player, and with the cornerback and defensive tackle classes especially deep this year, look for Clinton-Dix to be the pick. He would be starting day one as there are no safeties on the current roster that are better than him. Ha-Ha is excellent in coverage, and as Bears fans saw last season, there were huge holes courtesy of the safety position.
There is the chance that Clinton-Dix will be off the board. If he is, Chicago could look at taking cornerback Justin Gilbert, defensive tackles Aaron Donald or Timmy Jernigan, or inside linebacker C.J. Mosley. If Emery decides to move down, other options include CB Darqueze Dennard, DE Kony Ealy, or DT Ra-Shede Hageman.
2nd Round, No. 19: Da’Quan Jones, Defensive Tackle- The addition of Jared Allen will give the Bears the option of moving Lamarr Houston inside in nickel package situations, but that is just as much a testament to Houston’s versatility as it is to the team’s lack of depth at defensive tackle. Nate Collins and Stephen Paea are nice players, but both have injury histories and no track record of consistent play. Jones would be a nice addition as he could play the 1 or 3-technique.
3rd Round, No. 18: Loucheiz Pourifoy, Cornerback- Pourifoy is about as raw as a corner as there is in the draft, but as we have seen, Phil Emery doesn’t shy away from potential and raw talent. He has decent size at 6’0”, 190 lbs., and can be a player in the open return game. If Pourifoy can learn under the tutelage of Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, he could be one of the steals of the draft and a potential nickel package corner this season.
4th round, No. 17: Kelcy Quarles, Defensive Tackle- I had Quarles going to the Bears in the 3rd round in my last draft. I think there may be a chance he falls to the fourth round based on the depth of the draft at the tackle position. Chicago could also trade a higher pick to acquire another mid-round selection to ensure they get a player such as Quarles. The more depth on the defensive line, the better.
5th Round, No. 16: Terrance West, Running Back- The release of Michael Bush leaves a gaping hole behind the dynamic Matt Forte. West, unlike Forte a times, will go between the tackles and engage defenders for yards. It never hurts to have a pounding runner to compliment the speedy Forte. Running backs have been drafted later and later in drafts and have been integral parts on very good teams. If West pans out, he could be a solid insurance option if injuries hit the backfield.
6th Round, No. 7: Tyler Larsen, Center- Roberto Garza re-signed for another season with the Chicago Bears, meaning this is probably it for him. Chicago has to consider adding a center or offensive lineman who could make the move to the middle. Taylor Boggs was also brought back, but his role behind Garza is far from guaranteed. Larsen’s size says he can play in the league, but his inability to sustain a block is a concern. A year on a team behind someone like Garza would be beneficial.
6th Round, No. 15: Tevin Reese, Wide Receiver- Josh Gordon, Terrance Williams, and Kendall Wright are three recent Baylor alums doing well in the NFL. Reese is a small player and needs to eat a burger or 10, but his speed makes him a potential slot receiver in the league. Earl Bennett is gone, and Marquess Wilson is going to be looked at to take over as third on the Chicago Bears receiving depth chart. If Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffery were to miss time, the lack of pass catchers could be an issue. Reese could thrive in Chicago’s offense, especially considering his competition is the unproven Wilson and aging free agent signee Domenik Hixon.
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