Now that the NFL combine has wrapped up for 2013, the free agency period is set to commence on March, 12th. This will certainly shape mock drafts across the board but until that happens, here is my take on where the Bears will focus.
I will begin with how I believe the draft philosophy will shift. Emery will look at potential upside as opposed to minimizing risk. We will see the lower rounds, where special teams is typically filled, shift from LB, S, and CB to a few more WR, TE, and RB prospects to fill those roles. We will see a few more chances being taken where character might have been a show-stopper in the past. Emery will draft the talent and Trestman will be expected to utilize it to full effect.
This year’s draft will be primarily an offensive focused draft. The Bears core veteran leadership and talent is on the defensive side of the ball. This, combined with the new offensive-minded head coach, will lead to offensive draft picks heavily outnumbering the defensive picks….at least this year. Next year may see the pendulum swing back as our veterans get closer to retirement and salary cap issues continue to drive decision-making on personnel.
The Bears must absolutely address the offensive line to see any meaningful shift in production. Having said that, I believe we will see a significant shift in play calling featuring shorter drops, faster releases and more movement from Jay Cutler. I have heard time and time again from our coaching staff about moving the pocket only to witness lack there-of. Absolutely maddening for Bear fans and painful for Cutler. Trestman’s style will mimic a West Coast offense and protection will be inside out so I expect the Bears to place high value on interior lineman this year too. The wildcard in the mix is Lance Louis. Louis is a free agent coming off ACL surgery and for this mock, I am going to assume that he will be signed and ready to contribute at season’s start.
Round 1: My top pick is Chance Warmack, G from the University of Alabama. If DJ Fluker, T from Alabama, is available this will make an interesting choice. I would start selecting any offensive lineman I could get my hands on from this excellent Alabama team, in fact. This is the most complete college level line I have seen in many years. I do not think the Bears will select a Tight End in round 1 unless they address the line in free agency. Warmack is a plug and play player and will start immediately and provide a positive impact. At Left Guard, we will be taking on opposing teams 3-technique DT most of the time and will be a boost to Cutler by virtue of preventing the quick inside pressure from reaching him before a play can develop.
Round 2: The Offensive Line will be addressed once again with Kyle Long, OT from Oregon. I look to see Emery make a trade in the second round, if needed, to nab the player he covets. There are real good players, starting caliber players, to be had in round 1 and 2 and I believe Emery will not be shy about moving, especially in the second round, to get his man. Historically speaking, the Bears and all NFL teams, struggle to find contributors in rounds 6 and 7. I hope to see the Bears uses those picks to help position themselves to grab players that can make an immediate impact. There is a possibility that Linebacker is addressed here, though I think if Urlacher is resigned this will mitigate the need to use a high draft pick on the defense for one more year.
Round 4: Without a third pick, I see a bit of a quandary here. GM’s look for starters, impact players in the first two rounds. While you are hopeful to get guys like Henry Melton and Lance Briggs in the 3rd and 4th rounds, those kinds of picks are an anomaly to be sure. I believe this is where the Bears select a TE. Dion Sims from Michigan State, if available here, would be the likely choice. A LB could be a possibility too depending on free agency and how Roach and Urlacher resolve their current contract situations. I look to see the Bears utilize Rodriguez at TE too in the 2013 season so we should not lose sight of that.
Round 5-7: It is so hard to look this far down in the draft and see who is available. The Bears will likely select a LB or maybe 2 in these lower rounds. However, I expect them to pick a WR, LB and maybe a RB in these waning rounds. Names I would look for include Linebacker, Nico Johnson, from Alabama…yes, my slobbering love affair with the Crimson Tide program continues. In the 6th, I would look for a WR. Denard Robinson from Michigan could get a call from Halas Hall here, if available. He brings speed and comes from a pro-style offense. If the Bears are able to do some finagling and get back the 7th round pick they gave up to get Brian Price from the Bucs last season, I’d look for RB Onterio McCalebb from Auburn to be selected here.
I am sure for those who are counting, there are 5 of 6 possible picks going to the offense. This should be a draft that is very heavy to offense. At least prior to free agency. Free agency always changes draft needs and while the Bears will likely not make a big splash in free agency, other teams will, which will be very impactful on draft needs and players available for the Bears to select.
So Bear fans, what direction do you see the Bears going in rounds 1 & 2? OT, OG, LB or TE…maybe some other direction entirely?