Shortly after the signing of Lamarr Houston, Phil Emery made the comment that after the next signings we would get a better idea of his draft strategy. Now that the dust has settled, we can see more clearly that with their first pick at 14, it may not be a defensive lineman.
This is not an April Fools Day post. I am serious, the Bears no longer need to spend that first pick on a defensive lineman.
Emery stated during the season ending press conference that he short changed the defense but not having enough depth. He has fixed that with the re-signings of Ratliff and Collins and then adding Houston, Young, Idonije and Allen.
The first reaction to that statement might be, they are still short a defense of tackle and some of those guys are one or at best two year from being done. Your right, but prevailing wisdom states that your first round selection also should be a starter. If Emery drafted a defensive lineman at 14 the odds of him starting or getting any meaningful snaps is nil. I am not saying they won’t take a defensive tackle somewhere in the draft, I am sure they will. It’s a fairly deep group and they can now afford to wait.
Okay you say, I will buy into that logic. What will Emery do at 14? Well, one thing we have learned with Emery is to expect the unexpected. The rumors now floating is they have set their sights on Justin Gilbert (CB). That makes total sense for with the three starting CB’s over thirty, Isiah Frey the only proven backup, the depth is razor thin. We also have to accept this might be Tillman’s last season. Gilbert would not necessarily start, but would get snaps in a dime package, spell Tillman and be starter ready if there was an injury.
Another thread of interest that has surfaced is Eric Ebron. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least, if Ebron is there at 14, and Emery doesn’t grab him. Look, this draft is getting more fluid everyday. Rumors or smoke screens are flying about players dropping, sleepers no longer being sleepers and moving up into the first round. It is probable that Gilbert will be gone, for the Lions like him, but they have also been talking to Barr out of UCLA. So anything can happen, and we have seen it many time, players fall unexpectedly.
The thing we have to be prepared for, is that if the teams take the one or two players the Bears want, then it is open season. This is a deep draft, like the defensive lineman, there are twenty-four rated cornerbacks to be drafted. So if someone takes Gilbert and Dennard the Bears could look at the other holes that need filling, like TE and OG and pick up a corner later.
With only Martellus Bennett at TE, someone like Ebron would be perfect fit. Think of the red zone packages that Trestman could put out there. Bennett does better in the inline position than he does at slot. Bennett inline, Ebron in the slot with Jeffrey and Marshall. Awesome! We also have to think forward, Martellus only has two years left on his contract and then there is injury. It’s an outside the box strategy, but plausible, and almost too hard to pass up.
Next is offensive line, especially at guard. Currently, there is no one. If Long or Slauson go down we are in real trouble. The one I would target is Su’a-Fila , out of UCLA. He is slotted to be a second rounder and may be there for the Bears when it comes time. However, there are only like fourteen rated guards in this draft. Along with TE, this is one of the thinnest groups. Su’a-Fila is attractive, not only is he one of the best guards coming out, but he can play center. We know this will be it for Garza, so why not get his replacement now? It sounds crazy and a reach, but so did drafting Long in the first round.
Now someone will say, hey wait, what about safety? Unlikely, since they targeted Ryan Mundy day one when the UFA season opened, and their visible support for Conte. Not saying they wouldn’t but with seventeen rated safeties in the draft, they could wait till later rounds.
With the success in rebuilding the defensive line through free agency, the Bears are poised to go in any direction they want. They are out of the box, the pundits have tried to paint them into. So be ready for Emery to surprise us, he has before, why would this draft be any different?