Bears take Aaron Donald. #KRM
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…
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.
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.
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 – 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.
- Mental note has been made; Kanick to explore. [back]
- 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]