The calendar has finally flipped to April. Phil Emery and the Chicago Bears are putting the finishing touches on their draft plans and are preparing their war rooms for the three-day extravaganza known as the NFL Draft.
Most sports media outlets have been churning out mock drafts for the past few months. These mock drafts, however, usually only cover the first round. The most daring sports analysts may even sneak out into the deep end and take a stab at predicting the second round.
Knowing that predicting the draft is just about as easy as picking a perfect NCAA Tournament Bracket, its understandable why fewer still try to predict all seven rounds. But, in the face of my own better judgment, I will attempt to do exactly that.
Here are my predictions at all seven rounds worth of Chicago Bears draft picks, including two predictions that are nearly guaranteed to be correct.
What are those nearly guaranteed picks, you ask? Joe-stradamus predicts that the Chicago Bears will select… nobody in the third and seventh rounds.
Sorry for leading you all on. That was just too good to pass up.
The Chicago Bears don’t have a pick in either the third or seventh round in this draft. You can thank Brandon Marshall and Brian Price for that.
Notice I said “nearly guaranteed” in the lead. That’s because while it’s highly unlikely that the Bears will make a draft day trade, it’s not an impossibility.
The Bears don’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to draft day trades. Just ask John Harbaugh and the Ravens. When the team does make draft day trades, it is usually to move up a spot or two in the round they already have a pick in.
I think it’s relatively safe to say the Chicago Bears won’t be adding anyone in the third or seventh round. The irony is, outside of the result in those rounds being almost certain, the Bears have no clear plan in any other round.
Even after several moves in free agency, the Chicago Bears still have multiple needs to be filled on the roster. However, the priority of these needs have been affected by the free agent signings.
The offensive line, linebackers, wide receivers, and the defensive line remain the key areas for concern. While it was once clear that the offensive line was the most pressing need, the lack of depth at linebacker has leapfrogged that position to priority number one.
No fancy advanced statistics needed here. By using simple addition and subtraction, it seems the linebacking corps is in the greatest need of talent.
Geno Hayes, Nick Roach, and Brian Urlacher are all gone. While Phil Emery did manage to sign former Broncos Defensive Co-Captain D.J. Williams and former Panthers outside linebacker James Anderson, the Bears still find themselves at a talent deficit.
Along the line, the Chicago Bears have maintained the status quo. While Lance Louis is headed to South Beach and Chris Spencer is on his way to Tennessee, Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson will be filling in their roster spots.
To summarize: -1 in the linebacker department, and +/- 0 along the offensive line.
I understand it’s not as cut and dry as that, but the “total talent” factor tips the scale in favor of the Bears going with the best available linebacker with their first pick. Besides, a city with a strong tradition of linebackers deserves a young stud to groom into the next legend at the position. But that doesn’t mean that the offensive line is no longer an area of need.
So, now that that’s cleared up, here’s my stab at predicting every pick the Bears have during the draft.
1st Round: 20th Overall
Alec Ogletree, Linebacker, Georgia
In a perfect world, Ogletree will still be available when the Bears are on the clock. Many mock drafts have him going in the 15-19 range, but hopefully Lady Luck is a Bears fan on April 25th. As a former safety, Ogletree is extremely athletic and possesses great closing speed. At 6’3”, he’s also an inch or two taller than most other prospects at the position.
Despite some off-the-field issues (namely a recent DUI) and a tendency to not wrap up on tackles at times, Ogletree is likely the best raw athlete at the linebacker position in this draft. Coming out as a Junior also bodes well for him. Williams and Briggs will still be around to groom him and can eventually hand the defensive reigns over to him at a younger age than most any other prospect.
If Ogletree happens to be gone by the 20th pick, red-shirt Senior Arthur Brown from Kansas State would serve as a viable replacement. What Brown lacks in size, he more than makes up for in speed and game awareness.
2nd Round: 50th Overall
Barrett Jones, Offensive Lineman, Alabama
Paul M. Banks and I have both sung the praises of Barrett Jones for months now. You can read a more in depth analysis of him here. Surprisingly, most draft “experts” don’t have him being picked until the second round. I’ve even seen him fall into the third on occasion. I have no idea why.
Jones has experience at every position along the offensive line. His track record of awards at every position is far too long to list here. As a red-shirt Senior from the SEC, and a member of three BCS National Championship winning teams, Jones has seen and done it all.
His versatility allows the Bears to find the spot where he could offer the team the greatest positive impact. While he’s not an elite athlete, he is already at the pro level mentally. He can immediately impact the Bears from day one.
Other options at this pick would include Justin Pugh, a red-shirt Junior guard from Syracuse, or Kyle Long, a Senior tackle from Oregon.
3rd Round: No Pick
4th Round: 117th Overall
Lavar Edwards, Defensive End, LSU
Here’s where the fun begins. Predicting anything past the third round is a complete crapshoot. Actually, predicting any pick at all is a complete crap shoot. But here goes nothing.
I have my sights set on Lavar Edwards, a red-shirt Senior defensive end out of LSU. At 6’4” and 277 lbs, Edwards can feasibly find a way to contribute at defensive tackle if needed, even though defensive end is his primary position.
He was overshadowed by the dynamic duo of Sam Montgomery and Barkevious Mingo this past season. He didn’t come into LSU as a highly recruited star, but he earned his playing time through hard work. On most defenses in the NCAA, Edwards would be the centerpiece given his outstanding size, agility, and strength. He has all the tools to be a productive 4-3 swing end and could fill the void left by Israel Idonije if he signs elsewhere.
5th Round: 153rd Overall
Matt Scott, Quarterback, Arizona
I’ve made my case for Matt Scott before, and I’ll make it again here. The red-shirt Senior can get the job done on the ground and through the air. His throwing mechanics are incredibly sound, and he can do a lot of damage on designed rollouts. He’d become the first legit dual-threat quarterback option for the Bears in a league that is becoming geared towards exactly that type of player.
As a 5th round selection, Scott wouldn’t challenge for Jay Cutler’s job. But with Jason Campbell headed to Cleveland, the depth behind Cutler is only one man deep. That man is Josh McCown. I shudder at the thought of him taking the field this season. Scott would at least provide a better (albeit unpolished) option should Cutler go down with an injury this season. He’ll have years under Trestman’s tutelage to iron out any flaws he may have before taking the starter’s role. I think this is an incredibly low risk/high reward pick.
6th Round: 188th Overall
Corey Fuller, Wide Receiver, Virginia Tech
The Bears have a legitimate need for speed out of the slot now that the coaching staff realizes Devin Hester has no real upside as a receiver. I say the Bears should take a flier on Fuller, a 6’2” speedster out of Virginia Tech.
Fuller posted a 4.32 40-yard dash time at the Combine, and he has a bit of height to go along with his speed. With big bodied, sure handed options like Marshall, Jeffery, and the Bennetts (Earl and Martellus) filling out the depth chart, Fuller can become the home-run threat that is liable to blow the lid off of secondaries with his speed at a moment’s notice.
7th Round: No Pick
There you have it. My mock draft has a distinct SEC flavor to it, and I see nothing wrong with that.
Many will be quick to point out I didn’t mention tight end as a need for the team. That’s because I think the signings of Martellus Bennett and Steve Maneri are all that’s necessary to improve the production at that position for the foreseeable future.
I’m sure you disagree with me on at least one, if not all, of these picks. What would you like to see the Bears do on April 25th?