Oct 26, 2013; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Quenton Bundrage (9) catches a touchdown over Oklahoma State Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert (4) during the second quarter at Jack Trice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Bears Draft: Winds of Change


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?

Tags: Chicago Bears Justin Gilbert NFL Draft Phil Emery

  • DiscountPCRepair SATX

    HaHa at 14. Move up is round 2 to take RaShede Hagemann or Kelcy Quarles, both DTs.
    Round 3 — Dri Archer

    • John Vassar

      I agree with Quarles in the second round. Don’t see the Bears taking a S at 14. There are plenty of safeties in this draft that are good enough to step in later. While I also agree on a running back, round three might be too early. Thanks for your comment!

      • Michael Praser

        Yeah, but if HaHa is still on the board at 14, the Bears should really take him. I don’t think he will be there at 14.

        • DiscountPCRepair SATX

          To me … the gap in talent at safety drops off BIG after HaHa. If he is there at 14, I cannot see the BEARS passing on him unless we trade back.

      • DiscountPCRepair SATX

        Dri Archer is more than just a RB … he has speed and speed to burn.
        He can be a returner and also a RB. Can you imagine him in the BEARS offense?
        Imagine him in the backfield as part of a spread offense — who is going to cover him?

    • Eddie Currie

      If anything, the Bears need to trade back, definitely not up.

  • Johnathan Wood

    How can you say OG is a need? They have Slauson and Long both signed long-term to be starters. James Brown returns as the 3rd guard. No way they look at guard anywhere before the late rounds.

    • John Vassar

      Brown is a tackle converted to guard with zero experience at the position. What I was shooting for hypothetically was that there is no real depth behind Long and Slauson. So if you took a reach (and admit it is) on Su’a-Fila, you have a solid guard backup who also can play center. When Garza retires at the end of 2015, Su’a-Fila is there. Will Emery do probably not. The point is that the Bears can go in any direction they wish now.

      • bobportcharlotte

        How about the Bears sign Richie Incognito as a backup offensive lineman after he has been cleared to play?

        • John Vassar

          I thought about Incognito but not sure Emery wants anyone with baggage. If they wanted to add depth, then re-sign Britton or take a look at Bresiel that just got released from the Raiders. He is a good zone blocker and might fit Kromers inside/outside zone blocking scheme.

          • Dakota

            Yeah I think they should and will resign Britton

      • Johnathan Wood

        Brown started nearly half a season in 2012 and has worked exclusively at guard for 2 straight years with the Bears now.

        You are not drafting a backup at one of the easiest positions to fill in round 1 or 2. That’s just plain stupid.

        • John Vassar

          Your right I missed those 5 games he played in 2012 (and started three). The point I was shooting for, was if you were going to reach then take the best rated guard than can also play center. Garza will be gone after this season so to draft Su’a-Fila was not intended to be a backup but an upgrade at G then over to C.

          • Johnathan Wood

            They’re not upgrading guard, they’ve got two good starters locked in there for the next 3 years. And centers are rarely drafted in round 1, much less guys who won’t be starting as a rookie.

            Don’t get me wrong: I fully expect a C to be added at some point in the draft. But it will almost certainly not be until round 4 or later.

    • Chuck Canning

      I expect a Center to be taken on the third day – and I am sure they will evaluate those Centers based on their flexibility to slide over. Either Bryan Stork from Florida State or Tyler Larsen of Utah State would fit the bill. Corey Linsley (Ohio St) might be a possibility.

  • Chuck Canning

    John,
    About 75% of the mocks I have seen show Gilbert going to the Lions at 10 – although a few of that once had Gilbert in Detroit have shifted their thoughts in another direction.
    There was an interesting post on Ebron I saw earlier today through a SI link (but cannot locate now). An unnamed AFL exec absolutely trashed Ebron – and the entire 2014 tight end draft class for that matter. But you know how that goes – this could be an exec who is praying that Ebon falls so he can pluck him for himself.

    • John Vassar

      There is no doubt that the Lions could be the spoiler in all of this. Word lately is that they are now enamoured with Barr out of UCLA. Could be a smoke screen but they could force Emery to go in a different direction if they take Gilbert.

  • Rob Schwarz Jr

    If Gilbert is there, which I doubt, you have to take him at 14. That being said, you do not think that Aaron Donald or Timmy Jernigan would become the eventual starter on our DL? Besides, if you look at how many teams rotate the DL now a days I would love to have the starting line as Allen, Donald, Ratliff, and Houston with Young and Collins as the rotation. Do not draft a TE in this draft, it is very, very thin and Ebron is not worth a 1st round pick!

    • John Vassar

      I agree on the versatility of rotating DL, and we will see that this season. If Gilbert is gone, and for argument sake they Bears are not big on Fuller, then they might draft DT. The thing is none of the DT’s are truly complete players, so Emery has options in later rounds if he likes someone better at 14. While I don’t think it will be safety, but if Pryor is there, heck, why not? They beauty of this draft is that Emery took some pressure off and can do what he wants, even trade down it he can find value. Emery is a wild card, and now he has a full deck to play with.

      • FredRay

        I don’t understand why we would pass on CJ Mosely, we are talking about the future leader of the defense CBs don’t have to play this year, just prepare and be ready if needed. Safety isn’t of dire need either, the staff believes in Conte and Mundy as starters. The only huge question marks I see are MLB and CB I say draft CJ Mosely if he’s there, that front 7, then take 2 big CBs in the later rounds but if he falls take Stephon Tuitt in the 2nd or Kelcy Quarles.

        • John Vassar

          Mosley would be an option and early on some mock drafts had the Bears drafting him. The question that we don’t know is how Emery views the current CB’s. Meaning does he feel they need one to be starter ready today or can they wait and take a Breeland or Huff and have a year to develop them. That is where Emery gets tricky. So yes, I would toss Mosley into the mix.

          • FredRay

            I agree, but rumors are falling out of the front office about alot of CBs but he wants the big ones, none of the rumored ones are small whether is Walt Aikens, Desir, Gilbert, Fuller, Exum, Jean-Baptiste, McGill or Bennett Jackson. I would love if we pulled Jean Baptiste, Desir and Exum but I like the idea of putting CJ Mosely out there in the middle to lead our defense in the years to come with Bostic.

  • Charles Spencer King

    I think there is also a possibility the Lions move up that is not addressed here. Or that we move down. Both would change the landscape. I’m a Gilbert fan and an Ebron fan, I also think Lewan, Carr or Bridgewater could slip and would be tempting if we stay. In fact, I could see us taking Su’a – Fila Swanson, Richburg or even Martin in the second round. I also like Mettenberger a ton if he makes it to us in round 2.

    • John Vassar

      Charles, I wrote an article here last week on trading down. Right now the three likely partners would be the Jets, Browns and 49′ers, but the value has to work and timing. Most of the draft geeks have Lewan going to the Bills at 9, but anything is possible. The good news is Emery is not beholden to any position now.

      • Charles Spencer King

        Hey John, I saw the article, I agree with 9er’s and Jets, had not thought too much about the Browns, but I like that idea given their needs. I am with you on “the good news”, Well said @ “geeks” because I’d be hard pressed to find a draft guru or expert based on performance…..:-)

  • Johnathan Wood

    Emery has surprised us before, yes, but his first round pick has usually been pretty predictable in terms of position.

    Everybody knew they were going DE in 2012, it was just not thought that McClellin would be the DE. WR was the biggest need, and WR was taken in rd 2. OL and was the obvious biggest need in 2013, with LB coming in at 2nd. The first 4 picks were spent on those positions.

    Emery fills needs, it’s just who he fills them with that surprises.

  • Austin

    If we take Dennard in the first that gives us time to groom him behind Peanut. They are very similar players and I dont think Tillman has another year at corner after this season. That being said we have a chance to put Tillman at Fs for next year and possibly groom a kid behind him. Tillman can ball and I dont think we should let him go. Second round should be one of the safeties being Ward or Buchanon at SS. Ward can play both safeties and nickel so he could get on the field sooner than Buchanon. Buchanon reminds of Kam Chancellor so the choice is yours for who you woukd prefer. Third round is Anthony Johnson who could step in as a rotational guy right away. We have a lot of depth at DT and I dont expect a 1st round pick to be wasted on a kid who will get maybe 25% of the snaps right off the bat. Houston on third downnat 3-tech. Ratliff in both tackle spots. Paea and Collins rotating in plus you have izzy back who can play both spots.

    • Austin

      I also like the trade back option with the Jets if we could get a 3rd rounder out of it. In that case.. 1. FS Calvin Pryor, 2. CB Bradley Roby, 3. DT Anthony Johnson, 3. RB Charles Sims 4. LB Jordan Tripp, 5. QB Tom Savage, 6. TE Colt Lyerla, 6. OT Matt Patchan

      • John Vassar

        I would do that deal with the Jets. Still get our man at 18 and get their 80th pick and then we come right back at 82. On the CB choice, any of the three (Dennard/Fuller/Gilbert) will be good picks. I believe there is enough S talent that you could wait till round three. Would take a DT in the second to hedge my bets for Ratliff and Idonije are not youngsters.