Chicago Bears Draft Notes: Formulating a Draft Strategy Part One

Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery has already stated publicly that he is open to trading down in the 2013 draft to accumulate more draft picks.  Emery knows that the Bears have more needs than they have draft picks with which to land an impact player, or players that can be groomed for depth or rotational purposes.  Lacking a third round draft  pick limits the flexibility with which Emery can address some of the needs on the roster.   These needs are by no means pressing immediate needs, but they are positions at which the Bears need to add depth. 

If Emery cannot find a willing trading partner at the 20th overall slot in the 2013 draft then the Bears are not likely to pick up a third round pick.  A third round pick is not a position that you're going to find a long term starter, but finding a player that can be a solid defined role player will be a priority.

The Bears do have a clear position of immediate need, that being the right guard position where right tackle Gabe Carimi is being projected to start.  Carimi is not the answer at right guard, his performance on film shows just how limited his ability as an offensive guard is.  As optimistic as Emery is in stating that he could see Gabe Carimi as a guard, the reality privately when Emery watches the film is likely quite different.  So while there is a chance Jonathan Cooper or Chance Warmack is there at the 20th overall spot in the draft, it's hard to justify drafting an offensive guard that high in the draft. 

Offensive guards aren't going to help you score a lot of points or do a lot to disrupt the other team from scoring points.  They are the low priority low value positions in the draft, no matter how good of a player they are.  Cooper is the best offensive guard in this draft, while Warmack is good, he's not monumentally better than the third best guard in this draft in Larry Warford.  Warford and Warmack are virtually the same types of players at the guard position, so there is no reason to draft a guy that is likely to be there in the second round. 

This leads to the middle linebacker spot which is also a priority for the Bears, but if it's not a pass rushing specialist, the value of that position has dropped significantly over the last decade.  Manti Te'o is a two down NFL linebacker because  he's not even the best cover linebacker in the draft.  If you have a two down linebacker there is absolutely no justification for picking that player at the 20th overall spot.  As it is the top two linebackers have enough warts to not warrant their selections at the 20th overall spot. 

If the Bears want to find two immediate starters, they likely find those players in the first and second round.  In the fourth round they're now looking for a true value player that can be a developmental rotational guy.  The Bears have needs at linebacker, cornerback, defensive tackle, offensive guard and trying to find a speedy slot receiver that can stretch the field.  They have three draft picks in the draft where they can possibly find a player to contribute to the 2013 team.

Of these five needs two of them are likely going to go unaddressed in the 2013 draft.  The question is which position are they most secure at, that they are willing to ignore these two borderline glaring needs?  Where are they likely going to get the most value?  Can they find that value without having to reach to make that selection? 

At one point the dynamic Tavon Austin was thought to be a player the Bears could likely target in the first round,  now it seems all but certain that Austin's stock has soared to the point he'll be off the board by 20.  If Austin is there at this point it would probably be a steal to get a player that likely will be as dynamic on offense as Devin  Hester was once thought capable of being.  Austin likely has the most impact in year one to help the Bears win football games during the 2013 season.  Play makers do that, they go out and make plays and with Brandon Marshall, Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett all but guaranteed to be productive, Austin will have no pressure to go out and be the guy. 

While cornerback and defensive tackle are two of the more important positions, they are also two of the more  deep positions in the draft, meaning the Bears may be able to wait until later in the draft to target a developmental or rotational prospect.  The same goes with the offensive guard position, where if the Bears are competent enough at four of the five positions on the offensive line with the addition of Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson, then a mid-round rookie can come and develop next to the right tackle. 

Which position however can the Bears afford to ignore?  Are they confident enough in Earl Bennett, Devin Hester and Martellus Bennett to be guys that can consistently attack the middle of a defense?  Do they have veterans in mind to come in and compete for the fourth defensive tackle spot in the lineup?  Are Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Kelvin Hayden going to be a competent enough threesome and  can the old veterans be counted on to remain healthy enough for the 2013 season?  Is James Brown perhaps a legitimate project that Aaron Kromer can work with in year to, to become a potential starter at right guard?  Are James Anderson and DJ Williams enough to replace Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach?  Can JT Thomas step up and offset the loss of Geno Hayes? 

These questions and scenarios are just a few of the draft day stories the Bears are going to have to consider dealing with over the next few weeks.