By Adam Hoge –
Chicago Bears Draft Needs:
1. Offensive Tackle/guard: The Bears’ struggles on the offensive line have been well documented for quite some time now. This year’s group of tackles include a number of versatile guys that can be successful guards if they fail outside. Considering the Bears can use help at both positions, they can afford to take a chance on the fourth or fifth best tackle with the 29th overall pick.
2. Defensive Tackle: It’s hard to fathom the Bears can go into the 2011 season with complete faith in Matt Toeaina and Anthony Adams. This year’s defensive line pool is arguably the deepest in the history of the NFL Draft. Unfortunately, there are a lot more defensive ends than tackles and it appears the Bears’ first round pick will come after the elite tackles are taken and before they will want to take a chance on a guy projected for the second round.
3. Cornerback: Charles Tillman is still dependable, but certainly not on the level he used to be. Tim Jennings, Corey Graham and Zach Bowman? Well, they’re just guys. The Bears lack the elite ball-hawking corner they need in a defense that relies on turnovers.
4. Wide Receiver: I’m sure there are a lot of fans that would say this is the Bears’ greatest need, but there are very few can’t miss wideouts in this draft and none that the Bears would want to use their 29th overall pick on when there are much better line prospects on the board. There are some diamonds in the rough that the Bears can take a chance on in the middle rounds.
5. Safety: There’s not much depth at this position after Major Wright failed to live up to expectations last season. Daniel Manning can still test free agency as well. It might be a good idea to grab a safety this weekend just for depth purposes.
6. Linebacker: Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs aren’t getting any younger and Pisa Tinoisamoa is never healthy. Nick Roach is fine filling in, but he should never be more than your fourth linebacker. I wouldn’t have a problem with the Bears taking a linebacker as early as the fourth round.
2011 Mock Draft 3.0
1st round, No. 29 overall: DT Stephen Paea, Oregon State (6-1 ¼, 303 lbs.)
I’m not in love with this pick, but it appears more and more likely that the top five offensive tackles will all be off the board here. I think the Bears could get Paea a few picks later, so a trade for another second or third round pick would make me feel a lot better about drafting him. Paea got attention at the NFL Combine when he benched 49 reps of 225 pounds, four better than the previous record of 45. Afterwards, Paea was upset at himself for not reaching 50, which was his goal. There are concerns about his height and short arms, but Paea has top notch pass rush skills and he’s solid against the run. He has a reputation for being tough and has a non-stop motor.
Other options: If OT Derrick Sherrod (Mississippi State) is still available here, I can’t see the Bears passing him up. Baylor G Danny Watkins is also an option and is actually rated higher than Sherrod, but I don’t like the idea of taking a guard here when you can grab a solid one later. North Carolina DT Marvin Austin is also an option, but the word is that the Bears have soured on his character issues.
Previous picks: Mock Draft 1.0 – OT Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin, Mock Draft 2.0 – OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State
2nd Round, No. 30 (62 overall): OG Clint Boling, Georgia (6-4 5/8, 308 lbs.)
(Updated: The original version of this story had the Bears taking TCU OT Marcus Cannon with this pick. Sadly, it was announced Wednesday that Cannon has non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cancer is treatable, but it is unlikely a team will take a chance on Cannon this early considering his health.)
In a perfect world, the Bears would trade down before taking Paea and then could turn around and use that pick to trade up and grab Miami CB Brandon Harris who will otherwise be gone by the 62nd overall selection.
But if the Bears stay put with their current picks, they would have to address the offensive line in the late second round after going with Paea in the first. I’d love to see the Bears go after someone who has a chance of playing tackle, but with Cannon out of the picture here, Boling is the next best option. The four-year starter at Georgia has a ton of experience and is very durable. He was a team captain who is known for his preparation and hard work. His size and weight is average, but Boling is capable of pulling quickly and has no problem getting to the second level. It might be somewhat of a reach to take him here, but the Bears need to address their problems at guard and Boling can help right away.
Other options: If he’s available, Bears fans would love to see them take Pittsburgh wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin who stands at 6-4, 228 lbs. He has the size the Bears need, but the track record says they will pass. There’s a small chance Marvin Austin will slip to the late second round where the Bears might be more tempted to give him a pass on his attitude. Of course they would only do that if they don’t take Paea in the first round. I could also see the Bears taking Virginia CB Ras-I Dowling if he’s still available here.
Previous picks: 1.0 – CB Kendric Burney, North Carolina, 2.0 – DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina
3rd round, No. 29 (93 overall): OG John Moffitt, Wisconsin (6-4 ¼, 319 lbs.)
I don’t know if you have noticed, but center Olin Kreutz is on the downside of his career. Finding guys to snap the ball in the NFL isn’t necessary a problem, but finding a dependable 10-year center that you don’t have to worry about can be a problem. When scouts like to breakdown John Moffitt, they love to nit-pick on the finer details of his game saying his pad level is problem or he doesn’t sink his hips fast enough. Fair enough, but watch Moffitt for a full game and you won’t see a guy who is overpowered or missing blocks. After breaking down the Senior Bowl, Moffitt was the only offensive lineman I saw who didn’t miss a block the entire game. He played mostly guard and center for the Badgers and started 42 games in his college career. He can start at guard for the Bears and be a dependable center for years after Kreutz retires.
Other options: USC CB Shareece Wright would also be a solid pick here, but his history of injuries is horrendous and Moffitt is by far the safer pick despite Wright’s upside. Clint Boling could slip all the way to the late third round and would probably be the choice over Moffitt in that case. If for some reason Miami WR Leonard Hankerson was still available here he would be hard to pass up. Indiana WR Tandon Doss is also an option.
Previous picks: 1.0 – WR Vincent Brown, San Diego State, 2.0 – OG Clint Boling, Georgia
4th round, No. 30 (127 overall): CB Kendric Burney, North Carolina
No cornerback stood out more to me at Senior Bowl practices than Burney, who I took in the second round in my first mock draft. His stock has fallen since because of his size and somewhat below average speed, but those detriments aren’t as much of a problem in the Bears’ Cover-2 defense. Burney does everything right for a cornerback and is the kind of ball-hawk Lovie Smith loves. He makes up for his lack of speed by taking good angles to the ball and is not afraid to tackle big receivers. Burney provides a ton of value in the fourth round and is the kind of cornerback the Bears need.
Other options: If Shareece Wright is still available here, he would be hard to pass up. Other corners that might be available include West Virginia’s Brandon Hogan, Chattanooga’s Buster Skrine, Utah State’s Curtis Marsh and Ohio State’s Chimdi Chekwa. I wouldn’t have an issue with the Bears taking San Diego State wide receiver Vincent Brown here either. I took Brown in the third round in my first mock draft and fifth round in my second mock draft. His smaller size, but big play ability has him fluctuating a lot in draft projections. Indiana OT James Brewer is also an option here if the Bears still need an offensive lineman. Linebacker is a pressing enough need that if Michigan State LB Greg Jones is still available here, the Bears could not afford to pass on him.
Previous pick: 2.0 – CB Shareece Wright, USC
5th round, No. 29 (160 overall): WR Edmond Gates, Abilene Christian (5-11 ¾, 192 lbs.)
Here’s your token Abilene Christian pick by the Bears. I tend to think he is too similar to the receivers the Bears have now (small, very fast with big play ability, raw route runner) but Gates has third-round talent and the Bears just wouldn’t be able to pass him up here. I think he’ll fall this far because he comes from a rough background and only has five years of football experience despite being one of the older prospects in the draft. He was a JUCO basketball player before getting kicked off the team. That landed him at Abilene Christian where he played for four full seasons. He would fit perfectly in Martz’s offense because he is great with the ball in space. The Bears showed the ability to get big plays off quick hitters last year and that is Gates’ strength.
Other options: It’s very possible another team will take a chance on Gates before the Bears do. In that case, TCU WR Jeremy Kerley would have good value here. Another option is Fort Valley State WR Ricardo Lockette, who at 6-2 1/8, 211 lbs., has good size for a fifth round pick, but is very raw. Auburn WR Darvin Adams and Ohio State WR Dane Sanzenbacher are also options. If Iowa S Tyler Sash were to somehow fall to the late fifth round I would love to see the Bears take him.
Previous pick: 2.0 – WR Vincent Brown, San Diego State
6th Round, No. 30 (195 overall): LB Brian Rolle, Ohio State (5-9 5/8, 229 lbs.)
At this point the only positions of need we haven’t addressed are safety and linebacker. Thus, I give you linebacker Brian Rolle, who I believe can easily be switched to safety if needed. Rolle has great intangibles and was Ohio State’s defensive captain in 2010. He plays the game hard and has a constant motor. Quite simply, he’s a playmaker and has the ability to force turnovers while taking on bigger blockers. For a six round pick, he’s worth taking a chance on.
Other options: When I was in Iowa City last October covering a Hawkeyes game, WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos looked like a sure-fire first round pick. One major drug bust later and it appears the man they call “DJK” could go undrafted. He’s still got some legal issues to work out, but DJK insists his problems are in the past and there’s no doubt he can still play football at a high level. I’d have no problem if the Bears took a chance on him with their last pick.
Previous pick: 2.0 – LB Eric Gordon, Michigan State
Note: The Bears 7th round pick (231 overall) was exercised in the 2010 NFL Supplemental Draft last summer.
Do you agree with Adam? Post your comments below.
Adam regularly covers the White Sox, Blackhawks and college sports for The Score and is the Executive Producer of Hit & Run on Sunday mornings. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHoge670 and read more of his blogs here.