With the Bears officially out of playoff contention, it's time to focus on next year. Wi..."/> With the Bears officially out of playoff contention, it's time to focus on next year. Wi..."/> With the Bears officially out of playoff contention, it's time to focus on next year. Wi..."/>

Chicago Bears 2015 Draft Prospects : Defensive End

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With the Bears officially out of playoff contention, it’s time to focus on next year. With college football’s bowl season starting next weekend, I will be focusing on college players who might be good fits for the Bears next season. I will be breaking down prospects at every position with some focus on players I think the Bears could target. They need all the help they can get on both sides of the ball.

At some positions that aren’t as glaring of a need for the Bears like RB and G, I will focus less on the players projected to go early and more on mid-round prospects who could provide depth for the Bears.  I’ve already covered all of the offensive positions, so will be looking at defense this week. With the draft being in Chicago this year and the Bears likely having a top ten pick, this years draft is even more exciting than usual for Bears fans.

If you are sick of watching the Bears (or morally disgusted with the NFL), the college bowl season is an exciting alternative and gives you a chance to catch a glimpse of some future NFL stars.  These lists will identify some players to keep an eye on during bowl season and college football playoff.

Position Summary: The Bears went out and spent big money last offseason to improve their pass rush by adding Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, and Willie Young. All three should be back next year unless Allen is a salary-cap casualty, but the Bears have little depth behind them. Cornelius Washington or David Bass could earn the 4th DE spot but neither guy has shown enough at this point to count on next year.

With a draft choice in the top ten the Bears could be in position to add a difference maker at DE. If they miss out on the top DEs, I still think they will draft some youth at the position by the end of day 2 or early on day 3.

More from Chicago Bears Draft

* These aren’t ordered rankings, just defensive ends I think could end up on the Bears depending on how the offseason shakes out. BGO contributor Brennan Lippman already covered the top five DE prospects, so I will mostly be listing players who should be available in rounds 2-4.

1.) Randy Gregory, JR Nebraska

Attributes – 6’6, 245, 4.7

Scouting report – A natural pass-rusher who has all the tools to be a double-digit sack guy in the NFL right away. Gregory already has 3 or 4 polished pass rush moves and has the instincts to know when to use them. He has a quick first step, has shown the ability to shed blocks and can run down QBs in pursuit. As a pass rusher Gregory is the total package, but his run defense could be a weak spot early in his NFL career. He doesn’t have the strength to hold his position when teams run right at him, so he will need to get considerably stronger to become an all around force at DE.

NFL comparison – Julius Peppers

Projection – Top 10

2.) Nate Orchard, SR Utah

Attributes – 6’4, 255, 4.78

Scouting report – Came out of nowhere with 17.5 sacks for the Utes this season. Archer is a former wide receiver who has elite change of direction ability, powerful hands, and a variety of pass rush moves. He’s technically sound with a solid understanding of the nuances of playing DE, but his main skill is the ability to get to the QB. Orchard has a very quick first-step and shows the relentless drive that has resulted in 2nd & 3rd effort sacks this year. His run defense needs work since he’s not very big, but he has improved every year and gives it his all against the run at least. Orchard should be able to step in right away and provide value as a pass rush specialist and with some added weight and strength could become an above average 3-down DE.

NFL comparison – Jerry Hughes

Projection – 2nd round