While scrolling through the various Chicago Bears message boards I had an epiphany of sorts about how the Bears could approach the draft. If they follow this type of strategy they will likely end up a very younger and stronger team addressing a lot of the positions that we have all been screaming about since free agency began.
So exactly what could the Bears do to help themselves in the draft that would be equal to or better than what they could have done in free agency? Simple answer, trade down to the back end of the first round and grab an extra second round or third round pick or both. True value in this draft for the Bears has always come from late in the first round or in the middle rounds of this draft. Devin Hester, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, Matt Forte etc. have all been picked up from rounds two on back. So why not pick up EXTRA second round picks in exchange for moving down or perhaps even out of the first round?
Why utilize this logic? Well let’s look the simple answer, there will be a lot of value in the middle rounds and there is risk in the first round at a lot higher cost. The only real reason to stay in the first round? The possibility that one of the four OTs slips to the Bears at 18, which seems VERY unlikely to happen.
The priority of course would be to pick up a WR at the back end of the first round because that’s where three prospects will likely be who all grade out with an early second to late first round value.
Who are these three prospects?
Hakim Nicks WR 6-1 212-pounds from North Carolina, Brian Robiskie 6-3 212-pounds WR from Ohio State, and Kenny Britt 6-3 209-pounds. Arguably all three could be better WR prospects at the back half of the first round and early second round that either Jeremy Maclin, Darius Heyward Bey or Perce Harvin. All three are more polished, have better hands and in my opinion bring better intangibles than the other three higher rated receivers.
What separates the other three? Most likely the versatility they show in returning punts and kicks (aka everyone still loves the Devin Hester package) and speed. Harvin, Maclin and Bay all ran faster 40s in the combine than the bigger stronger three.
With that in mind the Bears would be foolish not to target one of those three WR prospects in the back half of the first round by way of trade. Landing one of them would be a likely instant boost to the WR core and they could be counted on for the next eight to ten years.
Moving down would also mean the possibility of landing an offensive tackle prospect more suited to play right tackle or even guard given the Bears the opportunity to move some like Frank Omiyale out to tackle or keep him at guard. What three prospects have this type of versatility and could be had early in the second round or midway through the second round?
Phil Loadholdt OT from Oklahoma; Max Unger O-Lineman from Oregon, or Kraig Urbik O-Lineman from Wisconsin. All three could be had in the second to third round area. Since it is likely that the four LT type prospects will be gone in the first round before the Bears would select at 18, and Chris Williams is slated to be the starting LT this move makes sense. Finding a versatile O-Lineman who can move inside or outside to RT and still be successful would help in readying to replace John St Clair if he is re-signed or immediately if he is not.
Moving to the defensive end pass rush positions three players who could be available if the Bears have two second round draft picks and a third round draft pick you could see them targeting another top three DEs who might be in a place where the Bears could snatch them up.
The three prospects are Robert Ayers from Tennesee, Michael Johnson from Georgia Tech, and Paul Kruger from Utah. Given the depth of talent that exists at the hybrid pass-rush position of 3-4 OLBs some of these DEs are likely to slip. Good DEs in a 4-3 defense are still needed and the Bears are one of those teams that would benefit from these three slipping to them if they have an extra second round draft pick.
Since the Bears to this point in our story have solidified three positions with one first round pick and two second round picks they find themselves in the position of needing to take a safety in round three. Perhaps it’s already been addressed earlier but ideally you could see a player like Patrick Chung slipping into the third round or Michael Hamlin. Either way there is moderate to good safety talent that will be available for the Bears to scope out after solidifying three other positions.
Freely I admit I am not real keen on what Jerry Angelo will do or how the draft will play out. But given the wealth of options available to them, and the need that they have at various positions this is smart way to build their strategy for the draft. This angle would also help to ease the strain of the lack of activity seen in the free agency market to this point.