After months of preparation the most hyped off-season event in all of sports kicks off today with the first round of the NFL draft. The Bears as just about every one knows will be selecting from the 19th spot in the draft. As has been reported Rod Marinelli is likely going to get a new toy to play with on defense in the form of a pass rusher or potentially a defensive tackle.
First some tidbits Phil Emery stated the Bears have been focused their pick onto seven players in the first round. Guesses have been wide ranging to an offensive tackle to a wide receiver with pass rushers in between. I don't like getting into the game of prediction but if there are seven players I can only truly pigeon hole five of the seven possibilities:
Those five would seem to be the five most associated as first round picks in the range of the Bears. Some speculate on a wide receiver that would be in the mix at that spot. Michael Floyd's stock has been in flux as of late with the rise up the draft boards of Mark Barron and Chandler Jones and the chance the Vikings might not take Ryan Khalil thus causing him to fall a bit to a team who might otherwise have drafted Reilly Reiff. Floyd doesn't get past the Jets at 16 so the chances he's there for the Bears at 19 doesn't seem plausible.
Kendall Wright is another receivers associated with the Bears who best first a role as a slot receiver. Last time I check the Bears had no shortage of slot receivers so I don't see Wright fitting into the Bears' draft plans either. Earl Bennett and Johnny Knox fit that slot role just fine meaning the Bears if they're going to draft a receiver are going to take an outside WR threat probably in rounds two or three.
Phil Emery publicly stated that there are a lot of mid round offensive tackle prospects who also fit in as offensive guard prospects meaning he's likely not going to look at DeCastro or Reiff at 19.
The Bears re-signed CB Tim Jennings and also signed veteran Kelvin Hayden to a one year minimal risk deal to be the third or fourth CB on the roster. D.J. Moore is a solid nickel CB so I don't see the Bears looking at Dre Kirkpatrick.
The focus is on pass rushers pure and simple and it's why I'm comfortable in narrowing it down to five players rather than trying to guess at seven. The reason I am focusing on the pass rushers is they're likely to come off the board one after another starting with the Chargers at 18. The Titans could go with a pass rusher at 20 with the Lions and Steelers going after pass rushers at 23 and 24. The first pass rusher could even come off the board as early as seven to Jacksonville or possibly 9 with Carolina or 12 with Seattle.
If pass rushers come off the board early then I don't see the Bears trading down if either Coples, Perry or Mercilus is still on the board. If the Bears are left with those three then trading down would leave the Bears with a small chance of upgrading the pass rush.
If there are very few pass rush options left at 19 then the Bears may trade down and look in an entirely different direction all together.
I think what the Bears' draft will come down to will be a pass rusher in the first round. The pass rusher value is at the top of the draft and then it drops off considerably after those players. Pass rushers are always highly valued in the first round, so much so that some of the targets may not even be legitimate first round players. Their value is simply inflated because of the need to get after the QB on third down in a pass happy league.