The Bears starting corners are both over 30 and they needed some young blood for the future. I had Fuller as my 3rd rated corner, but it was close and I think Fuller was the 2nd best fit for the Bears scheme. Fuller will push Isaiah Frey for the 3rd corner slot and possibly Tillman as well for a starting spot this year. I thought the need at free safety was greater, but Emery didn’t think any of the available safeties were worth the 14th pick and I can’t argue with that. I liked Pryor but thought he was a reach at 14. I was hoping for a trade back to grab Pryor or Clinton-Dix and pick up a 2nd or 3rd round pick, but at the end of the day I am happy with Fuller. I will be happier if Fuller earns a starting gig and pushes Tillman to free safety. With corner taken care of, who are the Bears going to target next? Here is my wish list for rounds 2 & 3.
DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida St (6’2, 298): His failed drug test at the combine worries me a little, but I can’t say I was shocked. Jernigan’s talent was never in question. When he is motivated, like in the national championship game, he’s an unstoppable combination of power, quickness, and technique. He has all the tools to be a dominant force inside, but has only shown flashes of it in college. Will Jernigan start taking football seriously in the pros? Will he quit taking plays off? Quit smoking trees? Get in good enough shape to not need a breather in the 4th quarter? These are questions that make you want to pass on Jernigan, but if he answers yes to half of them, he’s probably in the Pro Bowl by 2015. Jernigan is a rare talent and reminds me a lot of Tank Johnson who fell to the middle of the 2nd round for the same reasons Jernigan might, but gave the Bears two solid years at DT before off-field issues derailed his career. If Jernigan dedicated himself to football the Bears would get a steal in the 2nd round and have a stud at the 3-technique in the middle of a suddenly dangerous D-line. He has the tools to be an all-pro DT if he can maintain a consistent effort level and I think he Jernigan is worth the gamble in the 2nd round.
FS Terrance Brooks, Florida St (5’11, 198): Brooks has elite speed (4.37) and is a big hitter despite being a bit undersized. He has a tendency to go for the big hit a little too often which leads to some missed tackles, but he usually finds a way to take down his target. Brooks has great range in coverage and can cover slot receivers when needed. His height isn’t ideal but his excellent vertical leap (38″) adds an inch or two. One knock on Brooks is his hands. He only had 4 interceptions in two years despite putting himself in position for at least double that many picks. Brooks only played safety for two seasons, so he is still learning the position and could get considerably better with more experience. Brooks has a low floor (quality starter) and a high ceiling if his technique improves and is worth a 2nd round selection.
MLB Chris Borland, Wisconsin (5’11, 248) – The Bears have a storied tradition at middle linebacker and they have a chance to continue it if they draft Chris Borland. He would be a lock for the first round if he were a few inches taller, but he’s shorter than ideal for the position. His lack of height will hurt him when covering taller tight ends, but that’s really his only flaw. Borland might have the best instincts I’ve seen at the college level since Luke Kuechly. He ran a 4.7 40 at his pro day, so his speed is only average, but his elite instincts allow him to play a tenth or two faster on the field. If Borland can get there, he’s going to make the tackle. He’s a big hitter with 14 forced fumbles in his college career, has a knack for making big plays when needed, is solid in zone coverage and more importantly he is leader on and off the field. Borland would bring toughness and grit to a defense that didn’t have either last season. Bear coaches are already discussing moving last year’s 2nd round pick Jon Bostic to OLB and DJ Williams is just a stop-gap solution. The Bears need an MLB and Borland is easily the best one left in the draft at this point
LB Kyle Van Noy, BYU (6’3, 243): Van Noy can do it all at the OLB position. He’s more of a finesse guy than some teams like, but you can’t argue with the results (24 sacks, 54 TFLs over last 3 seasons). Van Noy is unique in that he excels in both coverage and rushing the passer. He is versatile enough to play any of the three linebacker positions but his ideal spot would be WLB making him a perfect replacement for Lance Briggs in a year or two. In the short-term he can fill in for whatever spot in weakest among the Bears linebackers.
CB/S Jaylen Watkins, Florida (5’11, 194): Watkins played both corner and safety at Florida, showing good versatility and a team first attitude. He stood out at the Senior Bowl as one of the most polished cover guys there and had the best speed (4.41) / power (22 reps) combo of all the defensive backs at the combine. Watkins has the potential to be a solid in coverage at either safety or corner and didn’t miss many tackles in college. He could start at safety if the Conte/Jennings combo is disappointing (will be) or provide depth at corner for a year or two before moving into a starting role.
DT Will Sutton, Arizona St (6’0, 303): It’s hard to know what to think of 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 his weight fluctuations are a yellow flag. If he can get near 290 pounds consistently, he could be a dynamic 3-technique tackle. If he’s at 310+ he’s a 1-tech run stopper. Can he stay at one or the other consistently? Sutton is a 1st round talent, but a risky pick due to his inconsistent weight and sporadic play.