By Adam Hoge-
(CBS) — A look at the top 20 NFL Draft prospects who could be on the Bears’ radar, based on projected availability, position of need and player skill:
DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State
Hand: 9 5/8
Arm: 31 5/8
College Career: The second-team All-American had very good production (63 tackles, 11 TFLs and 4.5 sacks) for an interior nose guard who saw frequent double-teams. Received playing time in all three of his years at FSU, but he didn’t become a regular starter until 2013. Was a big reason why the Seminoles had one of the best defenses in the country in 2013 and won the national championship.
Strengths: Strong and eats up more space than he should at his size. Stacks and sheds blockers with ease. Dominating run-stuffer who is scheme versatile. Still young with low mileage and plenty of upside. Very little injury history.
Weaknesses: Slow off the line. Takes him awhile to get going. Doesn’t shoot gaps, which is why he’s best suited as a 1-technique in a 4-3 or a nose in a 3-4. Not very productive as a pass-rusher. Some have questioned his conditioning.
Bears Outlook: Jernigan is exactly what the Bears were missing last season when they were gashed by pretty much every running back who stepped onto the field. If drafted, he would compete right away to become the starting nose tackle and would have a decent chance to beat Stephen Paea out for the job. That being said, Paea was an effective player last season before a turf toe injury slowed him down. Would the Bears be better suited looking for a pass-rushing three-technique? Maybe. But Jernigan has upside in that area and should get quicker off the snap with more experience and coaching. He won’t be around in the second round, so the Bears would have to use their first-round pick on him.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.