The building blocks of every great NFL team come from the NFL draft. The NFL is a business first and foremost, and the ability to have a great front office that can find the right player, for the right position, drafted at the right time, and signed for the right price, can literally have the ability to propel your team immediately into contender status. See the defending Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks, who have drafted well over the past few years, and have a core of their players still playing under rookie contracts at a very cap friendly price. On the flip side, if you have a bad draft, or multiple bad drafts, your franchise can me mired in mediocrity for years.
The Bears seem to finally be getting it right. After years of so-so drafts from former GM Jerry Angelo, a guy who drafted Cedric Benson, David Terrell, Rex Grossman, and Marc Columbo, all in the first round, the club has finally moved on with new GM Phil Emery who has seemed to find stellar players in the draft, see Kyle Long and Alshon Jeffrey. It is no secret that the Achilles heel for the Bears last season was the Defense, and Emery has made it very clear that rebuilding the “D” was going to be his number 1 priority in the offseason. He proved that by bringing in a total of 7 new defensive players, Jared Allen, and Llamar Houston just to name a few. Signing free agents is only half of the rebuilding process, and the Bears are certainly looking to gain youth and depth on the defensive side of the ball during this draft.
Who are the Bears looking at taking? Well although all the “experts” don’t completely agree, they do all agree that it will be defense. The debate seems to be if it will be a Defensive Tackle, a Cornerback, or a Safety. Which ever way Emery decides to go, a lot will depend on how the draft winds up prior to the Bears picking at the 14th spot.
Here are three guys that have been closely associated with the Bears and who I think are good possibilities at playing in the Windy City this season:
Aaron Donald Defensive Tackle out of Pittsburg. Donald was a beast last season for the Pitt Panthers, and has the explosiveness to get off on the ball, and disrupt the interior line. He had a great showing at the combine and at the Senior Bowl that reinforced everything that the scouts saw on tape. He has the potential to become the type of interior lineman the Bears haven’t had since the early days of Tommie Harris.
Justin Gilbert Cornerback out of Oklahoma State. Gilbert is a tall strong corner, standing at 6′ and running a 4.37 40 yard dash, he has the size and speed to play with any NFL receiver. He had 7 pass breakups and 7 interceptions in 2013, returning one for a touchdown. He is also versatile with being able to return kicks. Drafting Gilbert, and allowing him to learn from Pro-Bowl Corners Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, could set him up for a long and successful NFL career.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix Safety from Alabama. Clinton-Dix is a tall hard hitting safety that has experience in playing in big games playing at Alabama, and playing against the best competition in college football. He is tall at 6’1″ and has good closing speed, making him great at closing on receivers and coming up for run support. He would be a great addition to a Bears secondary that is clearly in need of secondary help.
Who ever the Bears end up selecting, I have complete faith that GM Emery will make the right choice, based on the greatest need for the team, and the best player that is available.