The Runner Sports

First Round Options For The Chicago Bears

NCAA Football: BCS National Championship-Alabama vs Notre Dame

With the NFL draft coming up in less than a month, it’s time to start looking at who the Bears will take in the draft. Many scouts believe this year to be one of the deepest drafts in the past decade, and the Bears will be looking for value in every round. However, the first round is where they will most likely draft a player who will instantly start, or at least see significant snaps. Within the next few weeks leading up to the draft I will come out with a full seven round mock draft for the Bears, but for now lets take a look at who the Bears should select with the 14th overall pick, because there are a lot options.

1.      Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S Alabama

Right now Clinton-Dix is the player I would like to see the Bears get in the first round. Picking in the middle of the first round, there will be no obvious player who stands out talent-wise against the rest. As a result, the Bears are best suited to draft for their biggest need, which is safety. A few months back I probably would have wanted a defensive tackle, but the Bears have made big improvements on the defensive line through free agency. Also Chris Conte recently underwent shoulder injury, which is expected to take 4-5 months to heal. This makes the outlook for safety even murkier. I believe Clinton-Dix will be a great fit for the Bears mainly because of his range. He ran a respectable 4.58 in the 40 yard dash, but Clinton-Dix is most impressive when you look at his tape from Alabama. He compiled 7 interceptions in a 2 year span, playing in the toughest conference in college football, for a pro-style team in Alabama. The Bears have been known to play a bend but don’t break type of defense where they do not give up big plays and force opposing offenses to sustain a lengthy drive. Clinton-Dix would fit perfectly into this scheme thanks to his range and coverage skills. Last season the Bears safeties gave up far too many big plays, but Clinton-Dix could step in right away and make an impact. The biggest knock on Clinton-Dix is his somewhat slender frame. He was a solid tackler in college, but isn’t a guy you will rely on for bone crushing hits. That being said, he can always add on weight in the pros, and the Bears need him more as a center fielder for his coverage skills.

2.      Calvin Pryor, S Louisville

There are two safeties in this draft that are clearly separated from the rest of the pack. The first is Clinton-Dix, and Calvin Pryor is the other one. There isn’t really a general consensus on which is the better player, though it is clear they are the top two at their position. They even ran identical 40 times at 4.58 seconds. Right now it seems there is a good chance the Rams will select Clinton-Dix right before the Bears with the 13th pick, and if they do the Bears would be wise to scoop up Pryor. The biggest difference in Pryor’s game is his physicality. He is phenomenal in run support, racking up 75 tackles last season and forcing 8 fumbles in his career at Louisville. Pryor is probably more versatile than Clinton-Dix, somebody who can play up around the line of scrimmage and blitz. His range is not quite as good as Clinton-Dix’s which is why I have him ranked second. The Bears rarely blitz their safeties, so his tackling skills could somewhat go to waste. However he is still solid in coverage and would be an upgrade at safety as a potential enforcer on the back end of the defense. Hopefully the Bears safeties won’t be forced to make as many tackles next year as they did last season, but if that is the case Pryor would be ready. If Clinton-Dix goes off the board at 13th, Pryor remains a fantastic option.

3.      Timmy Jernigan, DT Florida State

Defensive tackle is right after safety in terms of needs for the Bears. If for some reason Phil Emery does not like the safeties available, he could go after a defensive tackle. A lot of people have fallen in love recently with Aaron Donald, the defensive tackle from Pitt who was dominant at the senior bowl and combine. Firstly, I think there is a decent chance Donald will be off the board when the Bears pick, as the Giants may select him 12th. Second, Donald is extremely undersized for the position and has been successful based on skill and a high motor. Timmy Jernigan on the other hand is a prototypical 4-3 defensive tackle. At 6’2, 300 pounds Jernigan has great size, speed, athleticism, and moves. In my opinion he is still the best defensive tackle in the draft, which he proved in a dominant performance during the BCS title game. Coming from a national championship team, Jernigan was the heart and soul of FSU’s defense, and he’s a proven winner. I also like him over Donald because of his size. Donald may be quicker leading to more sacks, but the Bears really need a big run stuffer in the middle of their defense after they got gashed by the run last season. With Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston on the ends, The Bears are not going to need a ton of sacks from the defensive tackle spot, but rather run stopping ability. Jernigan needs to work on his fitness at the next level, but I think he would be the final piece to the Bears defensive line if they opt to go that route.

4.      C.J. Mosley, ILB Alabama

Mosley is my dark horse for the Bears in the first round. Emery has made surprise picks in the past, so anything can happen. The Bears have a long standing tradition of greatness at middle linebacker, and are still looking for someone to fill Brian Urlacher’s shoes. They resigned DJ Williams to a one year contract, but he is more of a stopgap than a long term solution. The Bears could definitely use more depth at linebacker, so this pick would make more sense than it seems at first glance. Mosley is far and away the best inside linebacker in the draft. Playing for Alabama, he won the Dick Butkus award last season for best linebacker in the country, while racking up 108 tackles. He also has good range with the ability to drop back into coverage, which is definitely a necessity for the Bears. There is a good chance he will be available with the 14th pick, and if the Bears draft him I’m sure they would find a way to use him next season. DJ Williams has played outside linebacker in the past, so if he and Briggs played on the outside with Mosley in the middle, that could be a formidable line-backing crew.

 

So there you have it, those are my top 4 options for the Bears in the first round. The Bears still have plenty of holes on defense, so any of these guys could step in and make an impact right away. That being said I won’t be surprised if the Bears don’t get any of the guys on the list. Only Phil Emery and the Bears scouts know what they are going to do, and other potential picks include defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Louis Nix III, or cornerback Justin Gilbert. Like I said I will do a full seven round mock draft within the next couple of weeks so look out for that and let me know in the comments section who you think the Bears should take.

Author: Luke Chalk