The Bears Defensive Big Board
These rankings are specific to the Bears and I tried to take in to account, need, system, value and risk when compiling them.
Run the Pick Up
1. DE Jadaveon Clowney [South Carolina]
I am sure concerns about Clowney’s attitude are real and that he comes off as not working hard because he won the genetic lottery, but he is a rare talent. Clowney will not be anywhere near where the Bears are picking so there is not much point in speculating.
2. OLB/DE Khalil Mack [Buffalo]
Mack is my favorite player in the draft. When you combine his intangibles and work ethic with his physical ability and production I think he is going to be a great NFL player. I do not have him in the #1 spot because he is not a perfect scheme fit, but I could see him filling a Von Miller type role for the Bears and being an impact defensive player.
3. DT Aaron Donald [PITT]
He would be an easy pick when you factor in his skill set, our system, and need. The Bears would boast an impressive array of QB disruptors, which anyone who has listened to Phil Emery speak for 2 minutes knows he loves disruptions.
4. CB Justin Gilbert [Oklahoma St]
Gilbert has been getting beat up a little lately, but I still think he is the best CB in the draft and has the physical upside that Phil Emery looks for. At 6′ 202lbs, with 4.37 speed he has the physical tools to go along with exceptional ball skills and a flair for the big play all things highly valued by Phil Emery.
The Good Value
5. S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix [Alabama]
I have gone back and forth on what safety would best fit the Bears and in the end HCD is the smartest selection. The NFL is alreading a passing league and it is made even more so when you are playing with the lead as the Bears plan to. HCD might not have the physicality of Pryor, but he is a versatile cover man that can line up man to man and allow the Bears to blitz and who can play the deep zone with range to play single high.
6. CB Kyle Fuller [Virginia Tech]
Fuller is an exceptionally versatile and physical CB who started games at S, CB and LB in college. He would bring versatility and physicality to a defense that struggled to make plays and got pushed around last season. Fuller may not be a great value at 14, but he is starting to look like a solid 1st round pick and he would have a role for the Bears as a rookie playing in the nickel, which the Bears play over 50% of the time.
7. S Calvin Pryor [Louisville]
Pryor is an explosive play waiting to happen, but I have him lower than HCD because he seems to be limited to a zone defender that can rally up to the ball an intimidate people. The Bears need some intimidation and swagger at S and Pryor could be a culture changer to the position like Long was on the OL, but his limitations downgrade him.
8. CB Darqueze Dennard [Michigan St]
I think Dennard and Fuller are very similar and both have some durability concerns. They are both very physical CBs with adequate, but not elite, speed that look to bully people. Dennard could come in immediately at NB and bring a physical run stopping and blitzing presence that Frey does not have and develop to start in 2015.
9. LB C.J Mosley [Alabama]
I do not think the Bears need to pick a LB in the 1st 2 rounds and I would like to let the young players they have at LB breath for another year, but at a certain point Mosley is too good to pass on. He could come in and start at MLB and develop as the leader of a new and young unit.
Skeptical of the Value at 14
10. S Jimmie Ward [Northern Illinois]
Ward is probably a reach, but he is also probably the best coverage safety in the draft and he can be counted on to play the deep zone and match up man to man. The issue is that Ward is small for safety at 5’11” 193lbs., not that it is a deal breaker, but it makes him more of a risk to wear down. I admit part of this ranking is the Bears desperate need at S.
11. DT Ra’shede Hageman [Minnesota]
Many people love Hageman’s physical potential, many will compare his size/athletic ability and his rawness to Kyle Long. But one thing you never heard about with Kyle Long was that he was lazy, that he disappears in games or that his compete level was ever in question. Taking a guy with a ton of ability and very little desire is often a mistake and I think Hageman is too big a risk at 14.
12. DT Stephon Tuitt [Notre Dame]
Some of the same complaints come up with Tuitt as Hageman. He has the physical tools to be a dominant player, but he appears lazy at time. His size, power and versatility make him a great value at some point, but the risk at 14 is too much for me.
13. S Deone Bucannon [Washington St]
Bucannon is not the perfect safety, but I think he has a ton of skills that the Bears could use at SS and he can start day 1. He has the size 6’1″ 217lbs., he has the speed 4.5 40, he is an intimidating hitter, and he generates turnovers at an alarming rate. Yes, he does not look great in man coverage against WRs, but he is an intimidating presence that the Bears have been missing. Too often last season we watch Wright and Conte just get physically beat up by RBs and TEs, Bucannon won’t.
14. DE Kony Ealy [Missouri]
The Bears do not really need a DE so I have downgraded them on this board. Ealy has a nice skill set, despite not being really elite in any area, he has also shown versatility in his ability to rush from the inside. He reminds me a lot of Justin Tuck, and he could find a role on this team early.
15. DT Louis Nix [Notre Dame]
A poor scheme fit for the Bears Nix does have the skill set they have been lacking as a big physical run stuffer that can come in and anchor the NT position. Nix offers little as a pass rusher and is probably too 1 dimensional for the Bears to value at 14.
16. DT Timmy Jernigan [Florida St]
I understand the complaints about Jernigan, there is literally nothing sexy about his game. He is a powerful, energetic run stuffing 1 technique who will struggle to get sacks in the NFL. But at this point I just want a player I know will start for the Bears for a long time. Jernigan will start day 1 at NT and play there for 10 years. He will be a bulldog in the middle against the run fixing the Bears biggest weakness. I was once told by a coach you have to think about where a player will be in 5 years. Where will Jernigan be in 5 years? Bringing his lunch pale and starting for the Bears. Where will Hageman and Tuitt be in 5 years? I do not know best case scenario dominanting, more realisticly as back ups or out of the league because they are lazy.
17. OLB Anthony Barr [UCLA]
A talented player, but a poor scheme fit Barr has intriguing physical ability and upside, but I do not see how he fits in the Bears system and I fear he may become the deluxe model of Shea McClellin.
2nd Round Targets
18. CB Jason Verrett [TCU]
I like Verrett a lot, my complaint with him is that he is really undersized and the Bears already have a starting CB that is 5’8″. I worry that in 2015 we would be starting 2 CBs that are 5’8″ in a division full of huge WRs. Verrett can play and his recovery speed is special.
19. LB Ryan Shazier [Ohio St]
Athletically he should be ranked higher, but in my world he is a WLB only and wth Bostic moving to the outside we have a glut of OLBs on the roster. At a point though Shazier’s incredible physical tools have to be discussed as his potential is off the charts.
2nd Round Expectations
20. S Terrence Brooks [Florida St]
One of the 3 coverage safeties that appear on the list [Ward, HCD] Brooks may be the better value if he is at 51. A former CB and rangy FS who’s physical tools overcome his lack of ideal size [5’11” 197lbs.]. He is very physical for that size and is willing tackler and special teams contributor.
21. CB Bradley Roby [Ohio St]
Roby needs to be in a strong locker room and have a player’s coach, because his problems seem to be mostly mental and in his confidence and self-control. He has starting CB potential if someone can sort out what is going on in his head.
22. DE Kareem Martin [UNC]
At 6’6″ 272lbs. with the physical ability he has a lot of potential and upside. Added to the fact that Martin had good production and you are left with a good player that needs consistency.
23. DT Dominique Easley [Florida]
Based on his ability he would be higher on the list, but I am terrified of his 2 ACL tears. He could easily be the Bears starting DT, but how long will his knees hold up. Will we see a rapid physical decline like we did with Tommie Harris?
24. CB/S LaMarcus Joyner [Florida St]
Joyner is a versatile playmaker, but again the 5’8″ height is a problem. Joyner is incredibly undersized for a safety and will be attacked in the run game and with larger TEs and if he plays CB he will mean the Bears have 2 tiny CBs on the field at the same time.
25. DE Scott Chrichton [Oregon St]
Chrichton is a better player than this ranking, but the Bears have a ton of DE talent and he does not really flash anything that would leave me to believe that he would get any reps while Alllen, Young and Houston are on the team.
26. CB Pierre Desir [Lindenwoods]
At 6’1″ 200lbs. with the physical tools that Desir has I think that he has everything to be a starting CB in the NFL. There may be more risk attached to his development because of his lack of top level competition, but he showed at the Senior Bowl that he may be worth whatever wait is required.