NGSC Sports

If I Was Phil Emery, I Would. . .

If I was Phil Emery I would think long and hard about how the Bears looked last season.   Marc Trestman, the “Quarterback Whisperer,” still has it.  His offense ranked second in the league putting up nearly 29 points per game and with that also came the blossoming of second year wide receiver Alshon Jeffrey who put up over 1400 yards in his first season as a pro bowler.  The defense on the other hand was a laughing stock.  The defensive line couldn’t stop a mother pushing a baby stroller and the secondary played as if the “pump fake” was just introduced into the league.  With that being said, it’s obvious where the Bears must put their focus in this years draft.

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Credit the Bears for being busy in the off-season and trying to revamp their defensive line by signing free agents Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen and Willie Young.  The Bears have said they are trying to find new ways to use Shea McClellin (who is on his way to being a first round bust) and they are still holding last years linebacker draft picks Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene in high regard.  So what does that leave Phil Emery to do with the 14th pick in the first round?

If I was Phil Emery, I’d be looking to rid the memory of last years abominations at the safety position, Chris Conte and Major Wright (Conte is still on the roster).  The first name that comes to mind is Alabama’s Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix.  Besides having an unforgettable last name that’s fun to say, Clinton-Dix also offers ball-hawking skills and athleticism that can make him a steady starter for years to come.  The only thing bad about Clinton-Dix is that he is far from being “under the radar.”  There are a few teams ahead of the Bears who need to fill their need at safety and would find it hard to pass up on him if he was available.  Bears writers and “mock-drafters” even looked into this and once upon a time it looked like Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald (defensive tackle) could be a possibility for the Bears as well.  Now rumors have hit the draft world that Dallas may be one of the teams looking to trade up and snatch him before it’s too late.  Donald’s workouts have blown folks away and he is by far the best interior defensive lineman in the draft.

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So what happens if Clinton-Dix and Donald are off the board?  Emery makes his money, that’s what.  It’s time to figure out what to do.  Do you draft the best person available, or make a slight reach for the next available safety?  There are about four cornerbacks who the Bears can consider, but after re-signing veterans Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, I would tend to doubt it.  The first round pick has to be a player who can immediately fill this defenses needs and I’m not a sure a “nickel corner” would qualify as such (although one can make the argument that playing against Stafford and Rodgers twice a year makes it a need). The Bears went linebacker twice last year so going that route in the first round would be an odd move as well, which means – yes, I’m pushing for the safety position, even if it’s a slight reach.  If the Bears can snatch up a Calvin Pryor from Louisville or Jimmie Ward of Northern Illinois, they’d get with either one, a player who is more than capable of being plugged into the safety spot from day one.

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Staying with the “safety theme” – if the Bears decide to totally overhaul the safety position (or if they aren’t able to grab ANY of the previously mentioned safeties), they should consider Washington State’s Deone Bucannon.  At 6’11″ 211pounds, he still offers Clinton-Dix like size, but just needs a little more fine-tuning.  He can still be a day one starter and has shown in college that while being a hard hitter he also has ball skills and was able to nab 6 interceptions last season.

In looking to fill out the defense with later picks, the Bears may look into linebacker Jordan Tripp out of Montana.  It’s not a recognizable name and most probably don’t watch Montana football, but besides looking the part weighing at 234 pounds and standing at 6’3″ – Tripp possesses good instincts and decent enough speed to be effective at all ends of the field.  Tripp might be one of those players who provides pop off the bench in his first two seasons and works his way to being an effective starter. Another defensive prospect the Bears may have interest in is the defensive tackle from Tennessee Daniel McCullers. McCullers is the definition of “hole-plugger.”  How can you not like a guy who draws double teams from SEC defenses standing at 6’7″ and weighing in at 352 pounds?  His size limits him from being on the field for too many consecutive plays in a row, but considering how poorly the Bears did against the run last year, I’m thinking a force like this in the middle of the line has to be a consideration.  His head coach at Tennessee Butch Jones challenged him last year saying “We’ll be as good as Dan McCullers goes.”  He pushed himself hard last year and proved to be very coachable in trying to achieve his maximum potential.

Being Phil Emery and knowing that the defense is the focus of this draft, I’d also have to consider my head coach is a very offensive savvy dude and there are probably a few pieces in these later rounds that can help maintain the punch in this attack.  Toledo running back David Fluellen didn’t help himself out much putting up “eh” numbers at the combine, but watching him play is a different story.  He is an exceptional pass catching back which is something that you need to be in a Marc Trestman offense and although he may not having blazing speed, he is playing behind a more than capable offensive line that can create holes for him.  The good thing about Fluellen is if he isn’t picked up in the draft, there’s a chance you can get him on the “super-cheap” and sign him as a free agent afterwards.  When it comes to fulfilling depth, the Bears saw last season how important it was to have someone hold it down while Cutler had to sit out.  Considering Cutler’s issues with health, it wouldn’t surprise me to see a move there, once again either very very late in the draft or as a free agent rookie.  Jeff Mathews of Cornell has a strong arm and can make all the throws, considering his Cornell background – figuring out an NFL playbook should be a breeze.  Maybe the Bears are the team that takes a shot with someone like Brock Jensen who was a proven winner at North Dakota State or (my personal favorite) Keith Wenning out of Ball State, who in my opinion is better than the David Carr’s and Tom Savage’s of the world. . .

What’s funny about the draft is that there are seven rounds.  The future of a team, it’s players, coaches and general manager all ride on the hope of kids just leaving college to fulfill roles in the NFL.  Sure there’s a lot more that goes into building a winner, but you don’t want to be that G.M. who passed on Alshon Jeffrey to take Stephen Hill, or the guy who took Ted Ginn over Patrick Willis . .. and Derrelle Revis (yikes).  If you’re lucky you have at least 6 picks in the entire draft and it’s these picks that either build something incredible like the Seattle Seahawks or display a repetition of incompetence like the Oakland Raiders.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

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