The Chicago Bears leaned defense on the first day of free agency. Defensive end Lamarr Houston, linebacker D.J. Williams, safety Ryan Mundy, and special teamer/linebacker Jordan Senn will don the blue and orange next season and add depth to a team desperate for it. On the same day, the team also cut defensive end Julius Peppers. The move saves the Bears $9.8 million this season.
With that said, the Chicago Bears still have a lot of work to do in free agency and in the draft in May. Here is a look at what the Bears could do with their seven picks, barring any trading of picks.
1st round (14th overall): Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Safety- Houston’s signing gives the Bears the flexibility to look for the best available defensive player at 14, if available. Clinton-Dix would be the odds-on favorite to start at free safety in Chicago, and make an immediate impact. Aaron Donald and Timmy Jernigan will also be considered, but Houston can kick inside and play defensive tackle, as well. Re-signing Corey Wootton could also lead to Chicago waiting to get help at the three technique.
The release of tight end Dante Rosario leaves the backup position open. Eric Ebron could be a sneaky option if general manager Phil Emery wants to solidify the tight end position and have a very capable backup for Martellus Bennett.
2nd round (51st overall): Bradley Roby, Cornerback: Roby could fall to the middle of the 2nd round because of the depth in the draft in the secondary. Roby would compete for the second corner position or the nickel slot. Recently re-signed Kelvin Hayden is the more likely option at the nickel, but Roby and Isaiah Frey could battle for the other starting position opposite Tim Jennings.
The Chicago Bears could also look for more defensive line help here, with Trevor Reilly (Utah) and Jackson Jeffcoat (Pittsburgh) being potential options.
3rd round (82nd overall): Kelcy Quarles, Defensive Tackle: Researching Quarles brought up a familiar comparison: Lamarr Houston. He is quick off the ball, can rush and get to the quarterback, and plays low. His motor is solid, but can get him in trouble. His aggression can be used against him, and his awareness can be spotty. If Henry Melton moves on, drafting a defensive tackle will be necessary. Quarles can play the one, three, and five techniques.
Depth at defensive tackle in the draft could yield other good options, such as Dominique Easley and Caraun Reid.
4th round (113th overall): Marcus Martin, Center: Roberto Garza returns on a one-year deal, but this could be his last year in Chicago and the NFL. Taylor Boggs was re-signed, but is no lock to replace Garza. Martin could be groomed to replace Garza. He plays a little soft, but has the size needed to learn to play in the NFL. Martin outweighs Boggs by 30 pounds, and is above average in pass protection.
5th round (144th overall) Ross Cockrell, Cornerback: Cockrell’s big knock is that he plays soft. At 6’0”, he has the height desired to play the position, but he barely weighs in over 190 pounds. Cockrell projects as a solid zone cornerback, which fits what the Bears need playing in a cover two scheme.
6th round (167th overall): Adrian Hubbard, Linebacker: Hubbard has the size and ability to go earlier in the draft, but his motor is questionable and is known as an odd duck. His coverage skills are exceptional for where he could go in the draft, and any extra talent is needed with the number of playmaking tight ends in the league today. Chicago could look for another linebacker in the late rounds with depth being an obvious issue.
6th round (175th overall): Logan Thomas, Quarterback: Thomas could go anywhere between the third and sixth rounds, depending on which team wants to take on the task of making him an NFL-caliber signal caller. He is 6’6”and is tough to take down. That being said, he performs poorly against better talent, and needs to mentored to succeed down the road. Chicago Bears head coach Marc Trestman could show just how good he is with quarterbacks by turning a project like Logan Thomas into a serviceable starter in a handful of years.
I feel Chicago will take a QB with one of their later picks. Other QB’s that could be picked are Bryn Renner, Jeff Mathews, Stephen Morris, and David Fales.
Follow Jeff on Twitter @sckih_ffej for more sports and entertainment ramblings. Jeff also contributes fantasy advice for The Fantasy Fix.
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