Bears take Aaron Donald. #KRM

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The night a million Ziggy Zoombas died.
(See embed at bottom to see the utter devastation that was wrought by Aaron Donald.)

Today’s post written up long time Cheddar contender and prominent Cleveland-focused, Arizona-based web presence, Jeff Rich.  His latest venture has him as the College Football Editor at More Than a Fan, and/or the editor of CFBRoundtable.com.  CFBRoundtable is worth your click and looksee, smart football conversation made highly accessible via Google Hangout tech.1  Without further ado…

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The setup.

As strange as it sounds, a team like the Bears, one that has made its reputation about dominating on the defensive side of the ball since before Harry Caray took over the Cubs’ radio call from Jack Brickhouse, isn’t concerned about any immediate need on the offensive side of the ball.  Let’s not forget this is a team that carried a Rex Grossman offense to the Super Bowl and carried their defensive coordinator on their shoulders after their lone Super Bowl win in 1986.2  But, let’s not kid ourselves, those Bears had as little in common with each other as they do the 2014 team that Marc Trestman is going to try and win with, come September.

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Storytime.  Kanick roomed with John Pont’s son at Miami.  John Pont was of course a legend at Miami, coached IU to their only Rose Bowl and was HC at NU at the time.  BUT ALSO.. his uncle was Carmen Cozza of Yale.  Who else went to Yale?  Gary Fencik.  So when my Evanston-based, Bears fan roomie would get lit up he used to play a game where you might randomly be pile-driven into the couch and the last thing you would hear is FENCIK!!  (Sometimes PLANK!!, but usually FENCIK!!)  Can I get a cool story bro?

Hell, this team doesn’t do much to remind us what Lovie Smith had in his time that ended just 15 months ago.  It’s a Bizzarro version of the Chicago Bears, one that simply needs its defense to do enough to give the offense a chance to win.  Even with the designated starting quarterback on the shelf, the offense was sufficient enough under Josh McCown to play a pretty meaningful game after Christmas Day.  Of course, two enormous defensive lapses in that game handed a spot in the tournament to the Packers, but it was just as well; the 2013 Bears weren’t a playoff caliber team and were spared the humiliation of a bad night on national TV in the post-season.

So, with the offensive depth chart set for the most part, GM Phil Emery approaches his third draft with repairing a defense that has personnel questions at just about every spot high on his mind.  A year ago, the task at hand was replacing the freshly retired Brian Urlacher, which isn’t said or done easily.  Second-round pick Jon Bostic was tasked with the job, but with underwhelming results.

This year, Julius Peppers will not be back, but the edge rusher vacancy was filled by Jared Allen.  Henry Melton has also departed, but his replacement did not come via free agency, and you expect the Bears to want more than the three interior defensive linemen on the roster.  The secondary needs a reboot; Charles Tillman signed on for one more season and Chris Conte’s off-season surgery leaves more uncertainty in a defensive backfield that already had enough issues.

The Candidates.

Before I talk about who they’re officially taking with the 14th pick, let’s quickly visit who they won’t be taking.

Derek Carr – QB (Fresno State)

I am about the farthest thing from what you would call a Jay Cutler fan, and I don’t believe there’s any way he comes close to playing out the full term on this long-term deal that was inked this year, but no way the Bears spend this pick in this way.  Though, it would be nice to see Carr escape his brother’s reputation by not being thrown to the wolves immediately in a mentor-protégé relationship, a la Favre-Rodgers.   This is absolutely not happening.

Haha Clinton-Dix – S (Alabama)

Taken by the Lions at #10 in this mock, Clinton-Dix would have been considered heavily, but I would think the Bears have another safety, one that’s actually still available, rated higher because of his edge in physicality.  This is all moot, since you can’t take what’s not there.

Justin Gilbert – CB – (Oklahoma State)

I don’t think anyone who takes interest in the Bears can feel good about seeing Tim Jennings and a 1-year rental on Peanut Tillman at the top of the depth chart at cornerback, so I do believe this position will be addressed in the draft, but I just don’t think Gilbert is a good fit here.  For everything he gives you in coverage, I just don’t think he has that Monsters of the Midway edge to him, so the consensus #1 corner stays on the board here.

Calvin-Pryor

Calvin Pryor would be good at the FENCIK!! game.

Calvin Pryor – S (Louisville)

If there’s a checklist for everything you want in a football player, even by the impossibly high standards that have been set for Chicago Bears defensive players over the years, Calvin Pryor fits the mold.  He has the prototype size and, with apologies to MD Jennings, Ryan Mundy, and Anthony Walters, he would be far and away the best safety on Mel Tucker’s defense.  He would help maintain this “Black and Blue” division’s reputation with his big hits, something I’m seeing more and more from the pedigree of Charlie Strong defenses.  This is a position of priority, and I think it would take someone truly special at a position of greater need to trump Pryor as the pick here.  It also wouldn’t surprise me to see them go in this direction.

Timmy Jernigan – DT (Florida State)

We’re almost there.  Jernigan wouldn’t be a bad play for the Bears here, as he’s everything you dream of in an interior rusher.  He has the size and the fire, and we’ve seen how he can lead a dominant defense at Florida State, from a position that generally doesn’t dominate a game, unless you’re on that Ndamunkong Suh at Nebraska level.  He gives them help stopping the run, no matter what you think you saw Auburn’s rushing attack do to Florida State; Jernigan would make the loss of Melton almost negligible, and he’d step in immediately.  There’s only one reason the Seminole isn’t the pick here.

***Aaron Donald – DT (Pittsburgh)***

The Bears haven’t done a good job hiding their hand with this one.  Based on reports, there has never been a more obvious draft-want than Donald to Chicago, but he’s got to be there.  I think there’s a strong likelihood that the Cowboys play a role in this pick somehow.  Their needs are similar, and you might say the same for Pittsburgh, so you might see that Rams pick at #13 come into play.  Jernigan and Donald might be #1 and #1a (in no particular order), but reports say Donald has the higher ceiling.  How quickly scouts dismiss any issues with what he lacks in size, at 6’1” 285, is really a testament to what they see in Donald.

If we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that size doesn’t dictate whether or not a player can be successful at this level.  This guy makes everyone better; for Emery’s sake, let’s hope that Shea McClellin and Bostic are among the beneficiaries.

Molto grazi, well done.  Point of personal privledge:  I haven’t been including highlight embeds but when I was looking for a good Donald jpg I came across this and I still has a sad for BGSU.  Donald’s technique is great and his motor?  Sheesh,,, skip to the final drive for BGSU at the end of the game and Donald is just crushing double-teams.  Unstoppable.

Tom Moore aka Titus Pullo aka proprietor of RedRight88.com is up next with the Steelers pick.
Pick #TeamSelection
(linked to KRM post)
Reader
1TexansBlake Bortlesjpftribe
2RamsGreg RobinsonDave Kolonich
3JaguarsSammy WatkinsClevTA
4BrownsJadeveon ClowneyZarathustra
5RaidersKhalil MackPete Franklin
6FalconsJake MatthewsOXR
7BucsJohnny ManzielPeterM
8VikingsTeddy Bridgewatertrashycamaro
9BillsTaylor Lewanclay
10LionsHa’Sean Clinton-Dixbluedog93
11TitansAnthony Barrkanick
12GiantsEric EbronRod of Disaster
13RamsMike EvansMatt Borcas
14BearsAaron DonaldJRich
15SteelersDarqueze Dennard tmoore94
16CowboysLouis NixGrandRapidsRustlers
17RavensJustin GilbertMGBode
18JetsBrandin CooksZarathustra
19DolphinsZack Martintrashycamaro
20CardinalsCalvin PryorJRich
21PackersJace AmaroClevTA
22EaglesMarqise LeeGrandRapidsRustlers
23ChiefsRa'Shede Hagemanclay
24BengalsBradley RobyOXR
25ChargersKyle Fullertexinottawa
26BrownsDerek CarrChuckKoz
27SaintsOdell Beckham tmoore94
28PanthersXavier Su'a-Filojpftribe
29PatriotsTimmy Jerniganbluedog93
30NinersJason VerrettRod of Disaster
31BroncosCJ MosleyPete Franklin
32SeahawksCameron FlemingDave Kolonich
33 (2nd rd)TexansTroy NiklasMatt Borcas
34RedskinsStephon Tuittkanick
35BrownsRyan ShazierMGBode
36Raiders

                         

  1. Mental note has been made; Kanick to explore. [back]
  2. Kanick lived on Diversey during this era and confirms without reservation that those Ditka/Ryan Bears were the best defense he’s seen.  The stretch in the 85 season where they allowed two TDs in six games was only topped by the playoff run that went shutout, shutout, fourth quarter TD allowed with game at 45-3. [back]
  • Pingback: Calvin Pryor remains a Cardinal. #KRM - Kanick()

  • posting this piece (and responding to jpftribe here) got me thinking about aaron donald in comparision to khalil mack.

    terry pluto has a column where he’s insinuating that k.mack is in play for the browns. it is an interesting column and i agree with jpftribe that the GM pluto is talking to is probably ozzie. when your in-division rival GM starts talking up a player ‘who his scouts love’ ,,, sirens should go off. makes me think ozzie would love us to take khalil mack.

    as for mack… great game against OSU early in the season. but BGSU got 490 yds on UB in their biggest game of the season. and while it may be true that BG successfully game-planned around mack, we have to note that BG was wholly unsuccessful game-planning (289 yds) around aaron donald.

    quite frankly, i’m leaning to like aaron donald more than mack. their combine results are pretty comparable.
    http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/aaron-donald?id=2543485
    http://www.nfl.com/combine/profiles/khalil-mack?id=2543463

    here is where game film against common competition matters and donald’s film above is beyond awesome. mack’s a good player but kiper’s talking him up as best player in the draft… seems a bit much no?

    • mgbode

      Donald had the singular most impressive combine to me and his game film matches his measurables. I do believe he is the best interior DL in this draft and the best interior DL always go in the top10 if not higher. So, this would be a steal.

      • i think donald’s categorization as a DT has something to do with his ranking. he’s not a prototype 43 DT, certainly not a 34NT, not quite a 34DE 5tech, maybe sorta a 43DE… like i mentioned to matt b… he’s very much jabaal sheard and potentially patrick willis. hybrid-y. this creates dilemmas for less creative DCs and draft wonks. but whatevs… the guy is all baller and im guessing you can line him up anywhere and he’ll make your team better.

        • mgbode

          I agree. I think he is the absolute perfect fit for teams that want to play a hybrid 3-4/4-3 where he can lineup as DE in either or even stand up as OLB in the 3-4 if needed. He is just disruptive wherever he plays.

    • Matt Borcas

      The mere fact that you’d be OK/on board with drafting Mack is somewhat surprising considering how vehemently opposed you were to the Mingo pick on the basis of OLB not being a “need” area. Can’t have too many pass rushers!

      • i think of mack as ilb in the patrick willis style. (thus a need.)

        that being said… i see donald and mack as really comparable yet one is being listed as a rush linebacker and the other as an interior lineman. they really seem like the same guy… yer basick jabaal sheard hybrid.

        wrt to mingo.. well he was thought of pre-draft (and found to be post-draft) as a one-trick pony –> edge rusher. given that they had just broke the bank for one edge rusher (kruger/SAM) and their top 43 DE rusher (sheard) projected to be the new WILL, yeah the mingo pick made no sense.

        and THAT being said… im growing less ok/on-board with mack as i find myself really preferring donald at this point.

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