Participating in the first three rounds of the Draftcoundown.com virtual draft has led me to one simple conclusion, the depth of talent in this draft isn’t there. The Bears also find themselves in the unenviable position of being in a black hole position in the draft. The talent that you see in middle rounds of most drafts, simply isn’t there this year. The deepest positions seem to be WR and CB and there seems to be a vacancy at most other positions.
There may be 10 offensive tackles that could wind up being starter level contributors in the NFL, that many players may get you through the second round. This explains why the Bears have been so public and adamant about the OTs they do have on the roster being good enough. The likelihood that a good OT is there beyond the second round seems slim, and the Bears’ plans seem to dictate going defensive heavy in the first three rounds.
The front office seems adamant about taking a pass rusher and the way the talent is laid out grabbing a pass rusher makes the most sense in the first two rounds. If the Bears don’t take one in the first round there is also the possibility the Bears have to trade up to take a good DE in the second round. The second round talent likely available would seem to be Vinny Curry, Chandler Jones and Andre Branch. Jones is rumored to even possibly be a late first round type of prospect and even he isn’t a great pass rusher. Jones is a complete DE and he plays hard and hustle and he has strength at the point of attack. However he doesn’t have the pure bend and rush you see from other prospects. However since the DE class is so shallow his value is inflated beyond normal levels. Jones’ game compares to a prospect like Corey Wootton.
The defensive tackle position doesn’t have a lot of mid round talent available either. Top DT talent may make it through the second round, after that things get extremely sketchy. This leads to the unfavorable position of the Bears taking a DE and then a DT in the second round to ease the loss of Amobi Okoye.
The two deepest positions in the draft are wide receiver and corner. The Bears if they chose to add another receiver could land a decent prospect as late as the fourth or fifth round. Corner is the same way mid round talent is there and this has always been a position the Bears have found mid round gems in. This lessens the likelihood that the Bears will draft Dre Kirkpatrick at 19 if he’s still on the board.
What could best help the Bears on draft day is for a lot of receivers to start coming off the board in the second round. Some where you hope that a run on receivers starts and it causes a bit of a panic and the rest of the GMs follow suit and start taking WRs off the board causing some of the DT talent to trickle into the third round. Relying on this strategy seems to be a recipe for disaster however.
Further complicating matters is the Bears’ need for linebacker depth and the lack of true 4-3 linebackers beyond the third round. The Bears may find depth but it’s unlikely they’re going to find an eventual replacement for Urlacher or Briggs beyond round two.
The way things likely shape up the Bears will have to draft two defensive line players in rounds one and two and then grab a CB or LB in the third round.
The participation in a virtual draft has taught me one thing lower expectations on the Bears finding a bumper crop of four or five starters out of this draft. Phil Emery may be a draft specialist, but even he likely won’t be able to pull of a miracle of filling out all of the Bears’ needs in one draft or even adding depth to key positions of need.