Phil Emery called the 3-technique DT position the “engine that drives the defense” and it is arguably the most important position in the Bears defensive scheme. The Bears have Nate Collins are the starter right now, but no true 3-tech DTs behind him. DT Jay Ratliff can slide over to the 3-tech position, but he is better suited as a NT. DEs Lamarr Houston & Isreal Idonije can play the position as well but both are better off at their natural position. Collins has never made it through a full season without missing at least one game, so the Bears could use some depth at the 3-tech position. Last year was the first time in the Emery era that the Bears only carried five DTs instead of the usual 6. Considering that the Bears ended up bringing in DTs off the street mid-season, I don’t think Emery will make that mistake again. I would be shocked if they come out of the draft without at least one DT.
Over the next two days I will be listing the players I like the best for the Bears in every round at each position of need.
DT Depth chart:
3-tech: Nate Collins
1-tech: Jay Ratliff, Stephen Paea, Tracy Robertson
DT | S | CB | LB | QB | RB | TE | RB
Round 1 (#14) – Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (6’1, 285): Donald might be one of the smallest starting DTs in the league, but could also be one of the best pass rushers. He was the most productive DT in CFB last year (28.5 TFLs, 11.5 sacks) and has the quickness, low center of gravity, and strong hand play to be a force inside. His 4.68 40-time at 285 pounds is one of the most impressive combine feats I have seen in a long time. Some analysts are calling it the most impressive overall performance at this year’s combine. Donald is the best interior pass rusher in this year’s draft and one of the most disruptive against the run as well. He led all of CFB with 17.5 TFLs on run plays. He’s a force vs both the run and pass and will make the Bears defense better from day 1. The Bears will be extremely lucky if he is still available when they pick at 14.
Round 2 (#51) – Dominique Easley, Florida (6’2, 288): A first round talent who will slip to the 2nd or 3rd based on concerns over two ACL injuries in college, the second coming late last year. Easley could be a steal if he recovers well. He has elite quickness and explosion off the ball. Easley is undersized but strong enough to shed blocks and hold up vs the run. If he can regain his pre-injury form he could give the Bears defense a disruptive force in the middle. Easley’s comment that he would rather watch cartoons than a football game worries me a little, but there have been plenty of successful football players with maturity issues.
Round 3 (#82) – Will Sutton, ASU (6’0, 303): It’s hard to know what teams think of Sutton. He looked like a first rounder as a junior (13 sacks) then gained a bunch of weight and became a run-stopper as a senior (Pac 12 co-defensive player of the year). He’s had success in both roles, but with his weight fluctuations are a cause for concern. If he can get near 290 pounds consistently, he could be a dynamic 3-technique tackle which is what the Bears need more. If he’s at 305+ he’s more of a run-stuffing 1-technique. Either role improves the Bears defense and his versatility is a plus.