Projecting the draft: Chicago Bears
Emery's board includes wide receiver, pass rusher as first-round priorities
The Bears have a new general manager in Phil Emery, a new offense headed by Mike Tice and a familiar set of needs.
Emery, an understudy of late Bears and Packers front office man Mark Hatley with strong ties to Scott Pioli, gave the Bears a head start in March, acquiring a No. 1 receiver in Brandon Marshall for a team that last had a 1,000-yard receiver in 2003 (Marty Booker). The Bears also signed Michael Bush, a strong 1A option behind disgruntled franchised running back Matt Forte but struck out in the market for a difference-making pass rusher.
The Bears continued to make the rounds to get close-up looks at receivers in the weeks that followed with coach Lovie Smith present for the pro day workouts of Michael Floyd (Notre Dame), Kendall Wright (Baylor) and Stephen Hill (Georgia Tech).
But their heart is set on getting line help, too, and with the 19th overall pick, should have a chance to land an NFL ready receiver or pass rusher depending on how the top of the draft plays out.
Five picks Phil Emery should contemplate:
WR Michael Floyd, Notre Dame (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 10)
Floyd's measurables and workout numbers speak for themselves, but it could be his interviews with teams that is ultimately driving his market entering the draft. Floyd's off-field transgressions are well-documented, be he's been extremely accountable, contrite and sounds like his past is in the past. The Bears acquired another receiver with a history of off-field headlines, Brandon Marshall, in March but Floyd would be a dandy find in the first round. Consider he's been praised as a top blocker by several position coaches, icing on the cake after Floyd displayed sub-4.5 speed and excellent route running to go with a big body, massive mitts and a high competitive grade. The Bears wouldn't ask him to carry the offense, but they're interested in seeing what Jay Cutler might produce after going from working without a No. 1 to having a pair of lead receivers.
DE Chandler Jones, Syracuse, NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 37
The Bears haven't been shy about their affinity for Jones, but he's one of the fastest-rising prospects in the draft. Largely unnoticed early in the draft process, athletic testing sent scouts back to find out if Jones, 6-5, 266, was more than a workout warrior.
His 35-inch vertical, 120-inch broad jump and eyebrow-raising results in the three-cone drill (7.07) and short shuttle (4.38) highlight his explosiveness, ability to change direction at close to full speed and lateral agility. On paper -- add his 35 1/2-inch arm length -- he's nearly from the mold of the perfect pass-rushing prototype. The buzz isn't going away. Not only are their whispers Jones has climbed into the first round, he could be drafted in the middle of the first round. If he's there at 19, bet on Jones being one of the player the Bears deliberate.
DT Mike Martin, Michigan, NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 79
There might not be enough superlatives in Rod Marinelli's vocabulary for the overachieving Martin. He's built low to the ground, wins with his hands, balance and body control and keeps pushing when stalemated off the snap. It's Martin's stocky build, extremely short arms and inability to stand up against tandem blocks that will push him out of the top 60 picks. Marinelli and coach Lovie Smith might not be wowed by his measurable, but his hustle, versatility and can-do attitude back his lunchpail effort at the Senior Bowl to stamp Martin as a third-round consideration. He won't be asked to handle multiple gaps in the Bears' penetrating four-man line and rarely would see a double team with Julius Peppers and presumably another threat added via the draft working off the edges.
TE Michael Egnew, Missouri, NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 116
Smith has repeated it ad nauseam -- Kellen Davis is a player -- and Tice's offense in Minnesota often accentuated the tight end (Jim Kleinsasser, Jermaine Wiggins) in the red zone. Davis, at 6-7, was a full-time starter last season. Not limited athletically, he's also not a game breaker. He'll get looks in the red zone -- five of his 18 receptions last season were touchdowns -- and can block in the running game. But Egnew, an overgrown receiver, has the straight-line speed (4.54 40 at the Combine) and soft hands to demand attention, if not help dictate coverage downfield. Jay Cutler's input can help sway the decision to add another athlete. His most productive seasons in Denver with Marshall also featured Tony Scheffler as a No. 2 option (49 receptions, five touchdowns in Cutler's first season as a fulltime starter).
No tight end in the class was more productive in his career than Egnew and he's added 16 pounds since his junior year that, if he can maintain the weight, give him more legitimate NFL size. The Bears will have to rate Egnew's toughness and competitiveness more highly than they did jettisoned softy Greg Olsen. One aspect that might deter Tice -- Egnew will offer next to nothing as an inline blocker coming out of Missouri's spread system in which he operated as an extra receiver off the line of scrimmage. But whether Smith believes it or not, that's what Davis is for.
ILB Tank Carder, TCU, NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 151
Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are on the wrong side of 30. Carter, 6-2, 238, showed better agility than scouts expected at the Scouting Combine and carries his weight well enough to be used outside -- witness three career interception returns for touchdowns. He was a middle linebacker for the Horned Frogs as a two-time Mountain West defensive player of the year. Like Briggs, who measured 6-1, 242 coming out of Arizona in 2003 and ran a 4.75 40-yard dash and was a third-round pick (68th), Carder's instincts and football intelligence get him to the ball quickly. As a rookie, Carder could be a valuable swing backup and begin the grooming process to eventually take over for Urlacher or Briggs. Carder's best pro comparison might be former Tampa Bay Buccaneers tackle machine Barrett Ruud (Seahawks), who had four straight seasons with 110-plus tackles in Tampa's cover-two before an injury-plagued 2011 in Tennessee.
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