Greg Gabriel On Bears Possible Draft Strategy........

Discussion in 'Chicago Bears' started by soulman, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    Holes to fill
    What will the Chicago Bears do in the draft? Greg Gabriel

    April 01, 2014, 03:00 PM EST
    To put it mildly, the Chicago Bears struggled on defense during the 2013 NFL season. The defensive personnel was pretty much the same as it’s been the last four years, but they didn’t play nearly as well. In league defensive rankings, the Bears were 30th in scoring defense, 30th in yards allowed, and 32nd in rush defense. That is hardly what Chicago fans have been used to seeing.

    At the end of the season, General Manager Phil Emery promised change. Not only has there been a drastic change in players, but on the defensive coaching staff as well. Head Coach Marc Trestman brought in linebacker coach Reggie Herring from the Houston Texans, and to coach the defensive line, he hired both Paul Pasqualoni and Clint Hurtt. Pasqualoni has been a successful defensive coordinator in the league and Hurtt built a solid reputation as a defensive line coach at Miami and Louisville.

    Two of the mainstays on the defensive line are gone. Defensive tackle Henry Melton went to Dallas as an unrestricted free agent and Julius Peppers was cut and signed with Green Bay. Emery went “all in” as far as signing new defensive players. His main signings on the defensive line are Pro Bowl defensive end Jared Allen from Minnesota, the young and improving Lamar Houston from the Raiders, and pass rushing defensive end Willie Young from the Lions. They also signed utility defensive lineman Israel Idonije, a former Bear and re-signed defensive tackles Jerimiah Ratliff and Nate Collins.

    Collins and Ratliff only played five games each last year. Collins was hurt in the fifth game and Ratliff was unable to play until the final third of the season due to rehab from an injury in 2012. Neither of them can be blamed for the Bears defensive downfall last year.

    Safety play was poor in 2013, so Emery signed three new players to play the backend. M.D. Jennings who was a starter for Green Bay last year was the first signing, followed by Ryan Mundy from the New York Giants and Danny McCray from the Dallas Cowboys.

    Corner Tim Jennings, a former All Pro, was re-signed to a multi-year contract and popular Charles Tillman was re-signed for just the 2014 season. Also brought back was backup Kelvin Hayden who missed all of 2013 with an injury.
    With all of these signings in free agency, what do the Bears do in the draft? It is my feeling that they will still draft defense in the premium rounds of this draft. The question is, "What position will the first round pick be?"
    Even after signing all the defensive line players, many draftniks and writers still have the Bears picking Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who may be the best three-technique player in the draft. I believe that their first pick will be either a corner or a linebacker, with corner being the preference.


    While the Bears still have age on the defensive line, they are now younger than they were a year ago. The old men of the group are Allen and Ratliff who are 32. Houston and Young are 26 and 28 respectively. They now have a solid seven or eight man rotation to play on the line when you figure in holdover Stephen Paea and Idonije. Also in the mix is second year defensive end David Bass who had some moments as a rookie.

    At the corner position, the top three players (Jennings, Tillman, and Hayden) are all on the wrong side of 30. The only young player in the group is second year corner Isaiah Frey. There are some very good corners in this draft with my top three being Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard and Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller. All three bring size and speed into the equation. With the NFC North being known for big receivers, teams need big corners to match up. One of those corners will be gone and maybe two by the time the Bears pick at number 14.

    At linebacker, the only player I feel is worthy of being taken at the number 14 spot and is Alabama’s C.J. Mosley. Mosley has the athletic traits to play either Mike or Will in the Bears scheme. He is productive, tough and instinctive.
    There is one safety who may enter into the mix and that is another Alabama player, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix has the size and athletic traits to play either free or strong safety, but his best position is free safety, where he has range and ball skills.

    When you go into draft planning, you have to figure in the depth of the draft at your need positions. The Bears' second round pick isn’t until 51. The chances of getting a top corner at the 51st pick is far less than being able to draft a good defensive tackle or safety.

    At 51, the top five corners will be gone (my fourth and fifth are Brad Roby and Jason Verrett), but there is a possibility that a potentially top defensive lineman will be there. At least one of the group of Anthony Johnson (LSU), Kelsey Quarles (South Carolina) or Dominique Easley (Florida) should be there. All three fit the Bears scheme. Easley is a question mark though, as he is coming off an injury and it remains to be seen if he is medically cleared. We should know that shortly.

    At the safety position, the Bears could be looking at someone like Jimmie Ward from Northern Illinois or Deone Bucannon from Washington State. The linebacker who may come into play at that time is Shane Skov from Stanford, a very active and instinctive player.

    Figuring out what to do is never an easy decision. It’s my opinion that corner is the best way to go. When you look at free agency, top corners always get paid at a premium. It is much easier to draft and develop your own. When looking at how the draft may fall, I also think that corner becomes the best selection because of the defensive line depth. There is a drop-off of talent at the corner position.

    Some may say that Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste would be a good pick. He ran slow at the combine and is only a press corner. He struggles in off and zone coverage. The next corner may be Utah’s Keith McGill. McGill is an interesting guy who is also primarily a press corner but is better in zone and off than Jean-Baptiste. In saying that you could ask yourself if 51 is too high to take McGill?

    These are all questions that Phil Emery, Marty Barrett (College Scouting Director) and Marc Trestman will be asking themselves in the coming weeks. We will find out the answer beginning May 8th. As I said, I’m betting on corner. What do you think?

    Follow Greg on Twitter @greggabe
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  2. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I'm trying to post as may different viewpoints as I can here so even though I prefer Donald like many others we've talked about and fiercely debated the other possibilities amongst ourselves. Here's former Bears Director of College Scouting, Greg Gabriel, and his thoughts on the Bears 1st pick.

    He also discusses other players we've discussed and mocked at CB, DT, Safety, and LB as well as the Bears FA signings and how he sees them fitting into the scheme. There some interesting thoughts and info here that's worth reading and some of it confirms the other probabilities in the early rounds.

    Hope you all enjoy it but psssst, I think he's wrong. :p
  3. mdbearz

    mdbearz Veteran

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    I really like the logic that this guy brings to his comments. He looked at our FA moves, our possitions of need, the future of the current players and the depth of the draft.

    To take a corner makes really good sense when you look at the future of our secondary, and the huge drop off in talent after the first rounders.

    I'm not against trading back this year at all. But, I honestly think we are going to have AT LEAST two top level players to choose from at 14.
  4. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    Draft stratagy:
    Best D player available out of DT/NT/S/CB/LB in round 1
    round 2-3 same as above minus the position in round before
    repeat 4-6 only straight BPA on D and O regardless of position.
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  5. soulman

    soulman Pro-Bowler SuperFan DBS Writer

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    I can find arguments both for and against and I've actually tried to examine it and even debate it from both sides. I've seen predictions that range from Dennard, Fuller or Dix at DB to Donald or Jernigan at DT, to Mosley at LB. Looking at the Bears needs I'd be hard pressed to say that any one of them was a "bad" pick.

    Interestingly enough as I was reviewing a number of mocks yesterday one had Donald going to the Giants and Dix dropping to us. I suppose that's possible but the flaw in the logic is that the reason given was NY replacing Linval Joseph with Donald. Why would they think about replacing a 6'4" 325 lb NT with a 6'1" 285lb 3 tech DT?. It seems to me that Nix would be more the type to do that. I also wondered why Detroit, who lost Louis Delmas, would pass in Dix if he was on the board.

    Of course that's what's so crazy about these mocks. Everyone has an opinion, including Gabriel, and with Emery it's really tough to know what he might do. Hell, if had to decide it's even tough to figure out what I might due if I had access to all the info Emery and his staff have. I think that's why I've stuck with Donald all along. It's the most logical pick based on a guy whose a perfect fit to replace the now gone Henry Melton.

    Emery made a point of saying how much better the defense was playing before Melton got hurt even though Melton was far from playing like the dominant DT he was in 2012. But what I got from that is that his presence and ability to penetrate had to be accounted for which made things easier for the rest. Since then the only player he signed who could possibly equal that is Ratliff. He's well past his prime years and more of a NT than a 3 tech and Collins is a good rotation guy but not a prime starter who causes team to account for him.

    Anyway, I guess I could just as easily make the argument that Ratliff and Houston can handle 3 tech roles and Collins can back Paea since he can play NT as well and then they can take a different DT later. But I just don't see anyone whose quite as special a pass rusher as Donald and they do need that. If it's not Donald then I'd sure love to have Dix and if he's gone too then we're left with Fuller, Mosley and Jernigan and that's a tough one to figure out so I won't, or at least not now. I'd have to look at it again later on.

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