It’s not a misprint, I haven’t taken leave of my senses nor am I being funny. The reality of the situation is that even if Aaron Donald is sitting there at 14, the Bears will pass on him. As you sit there shaking your head, about ready to click off and read something else, please indulge me. Before I dive into my thesis, this is not a scouting report on Donald, nor an attempt to further another player into the mind of drafniks. It’s simple. The Bears simply don’t need him, and here is why …
Bears defensive 2013.
To understand why the Bears don’t need Aaron Donald it’s important to take a quick look at what happened to the Bears defense in 2013. I don’t mean to digress into a litany of excuses, the results are self evident. Going from the number one defense in 2012 to the 32 rated defense in 2013 speaks for itself. However, when you peel back the statistics, where the Bears need the most help becomes clearer. In breaking down the defense stats (I use Football Outsiders, they are truly more reflective of team performances), the first obvious result is run defense. The Bears finished last of 32 teams in against the run, where they were especially bad was when the running back reached the 2nd level and open field. It doesn’t take a statistician to see that, when your safeties are the 2nd and 3rd leading tacklers on your defense you know you have issues.
Conversely, the pass rush defense while mediocre, was not as bad. They finished 25th, down from 15th the year before, still not effective but not nearly the wreck as run defense. The bright spot in all of this was the pass defense, that finished 17th overall, in spite of some poor play at safety. When taken as a whole it now becomes clear, empirically and visually, the run defense needed immediate fixing.
At the year end press conference, Emery fell on the sword about failing to provide adequate depth for the defensive line and having McClellin out of position. He vowed to fix it and make it younger through the draft. So now let’s see did Emery meet his commtiment.
UFA signings and re-signings.
From the start, Emery made good on his promise by signing Lamarr Houston and re-signing Jay Ratliff and Nate Collins. Later he bolstered the run defense by signing Will Young from the Lions. With the Houston and Young signings the run defense improved dramatically. Add in a healthy and conditioned Ratliff and the line was more solidified than ever before. Next, Emery brought back Izzy Idonije, while near the end of his career, he does provide flexibility at DE and DT and brings depth. Lastly, to enhance the pass rush, Emery signed Jared Allen.
Now while most admit these signings improve the run defense, there has been on constant refrain: There Bears still have no 3 technique defensive tackle. This is were the popularity for Aaron Donald sprang from. He has been regarded the best defensive tackle (3 technique) in the draft and is known for his pass rushing skills. So it would make sense for the fans and draftniks to slot Donald to the Bears in the first round. The issue is they have not looked at the whole story, and that leads us to scheme.