Bears pass on Donald at 14

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Aaron Donald - Pitt


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.

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Tags: Aaron Donald Chicago Bears NFL NFL Draft

  • David A Maupin

    Whomever they draft at #14 they need to be sure of. They can’t afford another first round bust or even an average player there.

    • brian mckendry

      Donald will not be a bust, if he is there we take him period, don’t try to complicate things, he would be the best available

  • Johnathan Wood

    When the defense was healthy (or close to it) at the start of the year last year, the run D was good but pass rush was awful. Pass rush is the single most important thing for a modern NFL defense, and you can never have too much of it. If Donald is there at 14, you draft him.

    • John Vassar

      I agree you can never have enough pass rush and that is why Houston will be at 3 technique. He had 63 QB Pressures ranking him 13th. Allen was 9th with 65 and adding in Young you have an excellent and proven pass rushing threesome. Adding in the run stopping capabilities the DL is pretty well set as is.

      • Johnathan Wood

        you need more than 3 DTs though. They need one more DT in this draft. And since DL is the most important part of the D, why not take the best DT in the draft if he’s there for you (which I doubt he will be)?

        • John Vassar

          I just don’t see him versatile enough, not that he is not a good DT. Second through fourth rounds the Bears can find more versatile DT’s and expand the depth than going all in on what might be a one style of player.

          • Johnathan Wood

            look at the DTs they’re rumored to be most interested in… with the exception of Hageman, all of them are similar to Donald. Pass-rushing DTs. Reid, Sutton, Quarles, Easley.

            That tells me they will play Paea and Ratliff at nose and Collins + a rookie at 3T. A 3T can also play DE in a hybrid 3-4 (or 3-3-5 nickel) look. Donald played all over the line in college and has the strength and athleticism to do the same in the NFL (not nose though).

  • DiscountPCRepair SATX

    This is exactly why I have been saying that we should take Gilbert first, and Bucannon. Personally, I like Bucannon better than Clinton-Dix and Pryor. To me, Pryor just does not pass the eye-test and I fear he would be a bust.

    In the third round, I wouldn’t mind Kelcy Quarles or McCullers from Tennessee.

  • City

    Finally, someone is making sense. There’s NO WAY the Bears draft Donald, for all of the reasons you just stated (plus size… I just think the more experienced NFL lineman figure him out. Personally, I think it’s between Pryor, Gilbert or Ebron (if he’s at 14). And I would also bet they try to go get Bucannon in the second round.

    • brian mckendry

      wrong city, you don’t figure out speed and strength, and long arms, he is a top ten talent, best DT in the draft, I don’t understand people that can only bring up his height, doesn’t make sense, wake up people , pay attention already!

      • City

        “Speed”? On soldier field grass, half the season. In Chicago? In November and December? He IS a Top 10 talent. No doubt! No argument here! But I don’t believe he’s as perfect a fit for the Bears as he’s been hyped up to be, AND I think they can get a comparable DT athlete lower down the draft. I would argue Safety is a bigger requirement (with a bigger drop off), and I do believe Pryor will be there at 14.

  • Chuck Canning

    Once again, we agree to disagree on Donald. The Bear depth chart is stacked at DE, but is virtually empty at DT (only Ratliff, Collins and Paea).
    Yes, Izzy can play inside – but he is at the end of a nice career and probably only makes the team through injury. (And hate to even think that as I really do love Izzy.)
    And, yes, everyone looks at Houston’s measurements and assumes he could be a natural at tackle – but what he really is is an excellent DE who gives you flexibility with his ability to slide inside in a pinch. Slotting Houston as a regular DT is a net subtraction – as you lose your best end and replace him with a decent tackle.
    With Allen, Young and Houston we have an excellent DE rotation. Keep them healthy and we will have fresh legs on the edges – both in 4th quarters and in December and January.
    At DT we all hope Ratliff’s comeback continues. And if he does give us the quality of play he demonstrated in Dallas (and occasionally last year), then we have one starting slot covered. And with Paea and Collins we have two rotational players who can take minutes and keep the starters fresh. But we are missing the guy to start along side Ratliff. So I look at DT as a hole – a huge hole – on the roster. And Donald would be the perfect player to fill that hole.
    I look at Donald as becoming as a Steve McMichael type. The type of guy who makes plays in the opponent backfield and must always be accounted for in blocking schemes. Imagine the Bears lining up a combo of Houston, Allen, Ratliff and Donald. Offenses will need to hold in their tight end and/or running back every time to counteract that group – not necessarily so with Paea or Collins.
    But the issue is moot. Donald is long gone. Lions supposedly love him, Vikings love him, Giants love him, Rams love him and Jerry Jones would love to trade up for a shot at him. Not sure any one of those teams need DT first – but it is quite likely any one of them could go DT if Donald is on their board. And word on the street is that even Love has fallen in love Donald. And say what you will about Lovie, but no one knows better than Lovie how important the 3T is to his scheme.

    • John Vassar

      Chuck, you know I enjoy your input and yes we will have to disagree on this one. On Houston, not so sure him playing NT, but he does play 3 technique and does it well. They will rotate all the DE’s as the DT’s giving them that versatility.

  • Mike Flannery

    Donald led CFB last year with 28.5 tackles for loss on running plays. He’s not a space eater that will clog 2-gaps, but he gets in the backfield to disrupt the running game better than any D-lineman in the draft. He’s a 3-down DT and disagree that he would be a part-time player with the Bears.

    • Chuck Canning

      Mike, My understanding was that tackle for loss stat includes QB sacks. Just tried a google search to determine whether this assumption was correct and I uncovered a mass of confusion.

      But I did find this definition in the NCAA statistician manual: “TACKLE FOR LOSS: Tackles behind the line of scrimmage resulting in lost yardage, either of a ball carrier or a quarterback attempting to pass, are tackles for loss.”

      I guess that confirms my assumption. When a defensive player sacks a QB – he gets at least 3 positive stat credits: tackle, tackle for loss and sack. Think about this… a defensive player who forces a QB fumble in the end zone and falls on the ball – tackle, tackle for loss, sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery and touchdown. Just one play and a guy can load up on these things.

      • Mike Flannery

        Hi Chuck. Good research! I always thought they were separate stats, thanks for clearing that up. So Donald has 17.5 TFLs on run plays, which still leads CFB after sacks are removed (Shazier is 2nd with 16.5). He’s a beast.

        • John Vassar

          I can always count on you, Chuck to find the nuances of the stats. Actually, was looking at the tape of the Ga Tech game (again) and was counting the tackles for loss and they didn’t match up right. I began to think along your assumptions of how they were calculated but got side tracked. Thanks for the definition and clarity.

          Now we need a stat for the amount of yards a DL gives up when a team runs through their hole.

  • Kirk Devries

    Hopefully Donald is there along with Gilbert and others who will attract another team to move up. We need to grab Bucannon and have multiple 2cd round picks and third round picks.

    • City

      I agree with you. I think two #2′s in this draft is as good or better than a #1 at 14.

  • Emilio A

    You draft for the present and the future. With Ratliff (getting older) Paea (free agent in 2015) Collins ( a good half season) your drafting him for the future

    • John Vassar

      That is a good point. To that end they very well good draft a NT too and then a more versatile DT in the 4th round. Plus you have next season to.

  • Lewis Hanson

    I say they will go with CJ Mosley in the first round!