Chicago Bears Finish 5-11: A Mostly Unbiased View

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Sep 27, 2014; Columbia, SC, USA; Missouri Tigers defensive lineman Shane Ray (56) gives chase to South Carolina Gamecocks running back Mike Davis (28) during the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Missouri wins in the final minutes 21-20 over South Carolina. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri defensive end Shane Ray tops my wish list for the Chicago Bears at this point in the draft process.  He’s fast, instinctive and has loads of natural pass rushing ability.  He’s a bit undersized, which will turn a large portion of you off because of the Shea McClellin debacle, but there are reasons why I think he will work.  One such reason is a likely defensive scheme change.  If the Chicago Bears change to a 3-4 base defense, I think Ray would fit perfectly as an outside linebacker.  He would also fit well as a LEO in a scheme similar to what the Seattle Seahawks run, if the Bears were to hire someone like current Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.  You might also say that defensive end is not a need for the Bears right now, but with both Willie Young and Lamarr Houston coming off major injuries and Jared Allen not living up to the hype it could be more of a need than you think.  All in all, talents like Shane Ray don’t grow on trees and the new coaching staff should be able to find a use for him.

For those of you looking for a player who fills a more direct need, Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley might be more down your alley.  Stanley has been phenomenal for the Fighting Irish this season and has been quickly ascending on draft boards.  With Jermon Bushrod still under contract, Stanley would likely need to start his career at right tackle, but that’s not a terrible thing and the Chicago Bears have struggled mightily at that position this year.  Stanley is an underclassman and has yet to declare for the NFL Draft, but that decision seems likely.

Be wary of Alabama safety Landon Collins.  Safety is a huge area of concern for the Chicago Bears heading into this offseason, and I expect many of you to clamor for Collins in the pre-draft process.  On paper, Collins makes a lot of sense.  He’s big, very athletic for his size, and would give the Bears the physical presence in the secondary they’ve been lacking since Mike Brown left.  The problem is that Collins is not a top 10 talent.  His stock is being inflated because of the weak safety class this year.  He will struggle to match up with tight ends in man coverage, and isn’t fundamentally sound enough in his tackling to make up for his deficiency in coverage.  Letting need push players up on your draft board is never a good idea, just ask the Tampa Bay Buccaneers about Mark Barron.

There you have it.  This disappointing season is over, but all is not lost.  Look forward to the future and stay tuned to our draft coverage in the offseason.  Happy New Year Bears fans!  Bear Down, but keep it balanced…