With teams firmly entrenched in their war rooms evaluating and reevaluating players in preparation for the NFL draft that starts two weeks from Thursday it's time to narrow down prospects who the Bears should consider in the first round. The Bears have plenty of needs, and depending on how the draft falls there should be a solid list of players for the them to choose from. Already we've discussed which positions the Bears should focus on as positions of need and there are plenty of needs for the Bears to add to. Among those needs, wide receiver, cornerback, interior offensive line, defensive tackle, linebacker and quarterback. You can all but eliminate a quarterback being drafted in the first round but all other positions of need could be addressed at 20.
There's no way to predict the way other teams have their big boards laid out and if there's a run at a particular position it could cause teams to hastily invest players. If the top three offensive tackles come off the board in the top-10 then some late first round picks could suddenly come off the board pushing other players down the board that the Bears may have the chance to select.
With that in mind we're going to take a look at some of the players that could slide to the Bears or be there when the Bears pick with the 20th overall spot in the first round.
First up let's look at the two first round graded wide receivers, Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin both players the Bears should be a high priority if they're available. The Bears absolutely need to add another dynamic third wide receiver option, a big play option who can stretch the field and attack the middle of the field. Both Patterson and Austin fit the bill and would be perfect prospects to come in and attack the middle of the field.
Most project Patterson as an outside receiver due to his size, but his speed and his open field ability make him a very attractive slot option. Patterson is dynamic with the ball in his hands and his open field ability is among the best the draft. Patterson also possesses legit 4.43 speed to go with a cutting ability that is reminiscent of the best players in the draft. He doesn't have to slow down to make his cuts, he simply explodes through his cuts in the open field. Patterson did it all for the Vols, whether it was returning kicks, punts, lining up outside in the slot, in the backfield or getting the ball in his hands on end around, he was able to it well. That type of ability, combined with his size means if Patterson is there at 20 the Bears would be right to snag him.
Tavon Austin is the most dynamic player in the NFL draft this year. His speed and open field ability puts him in the once every five years category for ability. Austin's stock has rocketed up the charts since the NFL combine at teams have had the chance to go back and watch his tape and see what he's capable of. Austin is the best slot wide receiver option available in the draft but could be long gone by the time the Bears are on the clock. NFL teams covet his skill set perhaps more than any other position on the field other than a quarterback or dynamic pass rusher. Players like Percy Harvin, Randall Cobb have been successful in this role, while teams have tried to take dynamic returners like Josh Cribbs and Devin Hester and mold them into those roles. Austin has already proven himself in that role so his adjustment wouldn't be the same as pure returners.
I'm of the opinion that if either one of these two players are there at the 20th overall selection in the draft that the Bears should sprint to the podium to take them. Yes there are other players at other positions that are very attractive options, but the first priority in today's NFL is finding players who can immediately come in and help your team score points. When players are there that have first round value and have the prerequisite talent you make them the priority. Austin and Patterson are players you don't hesitate to grab.