Draft Day 2014

EmerychatOne of my favorite episodes of Sports Night was the Draft Day two-parter. A more relevant pop culture reference would be Draft Day the movie, which I didn’t see. In any case, the NFL Draft holds a pretty solid place in our sports culture; it dwarfs the NBA (which is held back a bit by the lottery system; there’s only a month between when teams know where they’re picking and the draft itself, which inherently limits the amount of mock draft speculation) and MLB (held back by the fact that the drafted players are fairly anonymous, especially relative to NCAA football and basketball players) versions, and with this year’s draft taking place in May, there’s been an overload on rumors, speculation, and analysis.

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for. (Well, today is one day out of three we’ve been waiting for.)

Here are a few key questions facing the Bears:

1. Should positional needs be the deciding factor for the selection?

It’s tempting to think that when a team is seemingly so unbalanced in favor of its offense that rules out any chance of taking an offensive player with their top pick. In a perfect world, the best player available when the Bears are on the clock will be a defender at a position of need (relevant posts debating just which positions those are for Chicago can be found here and here), and in fact the Bears could use a defender at just about any position save defensive end.

But what if there’s an early run on defenders? (Plausible, especially if the quarterbacks slide.) What if when it’s time for the Bears to select, the clear best option available is an offensive player? I think, in that case, you have to take them, unless it’s a quarterback. A quarterback hopefully wouldn’t see the field in 2014, while just about every other offensive position could, in theory, be displaced. A tight end like Eric Ebron could see time along with Martellus Bennett. A wide receiver like Mike Evans could play in three WR sets. A lineman could find a home somehow. Even a running back, although I highly doubt any team drafts one in the first round, could serve as Matt Forte’s backup and get the touches Michael Bush received last year.

If Phil Emery and his staff believe that the best player available when they select is an offensive player, I think they will take him. I don’t think that’s a likely scenario, though; I think it’s likely that there will be players with similar grades from both sides of the ball available to the Bears at 14. Which leads me to the next question:

2. Should the Bears consider moving up or down from 14?

I think a team should always consider such a move. If you think the value you’re receiving is greater than the value you’re giving away, then that’s a transaction you should make. I think the Bears are much more likely to trade down than up, and in a vacuum, I think that’s smart; they have so many needs defensively, it makes sense to accumulate as many picks as possible. If there’s a group of players left that the scouts like equally, and a team wants to jump up to grab a quarterback, the Bears should absolutely listen. Building depth through the draft is hugely important, especially for a team like the Bears that has already committed to some fairly large free agent deals. (With Brandon Marshall set to receive an extension as well.)

Trading up is another matter altogether. You’d lose your ability to build depth, but at the same time, getting an elite talent is also a very good thing; it’s also a lot harder to find and acquire. If there’s a player (I’d assume a defender) the Bears absolutely love, and that player slides into a range where it wouldn’t be too incredibly expensive to move for him, I think that’s something the Bears will consider as well. (Again, the same value out vs. value in equation applies.) While I think this scenario is much less likely than trading down, and it’s probably a lot riskier, it’s still really exciting when your team does it. The Bears could give away a dozen draft picks to move up two spots for a player who would have been available anyway, and I’d still get a bit of a thrill out of it. (For about five seconds. Then I’d jump on Twitter along with everyone else to question the wisdom of the trade.)

The third, and perhaps most likely option, is to stand pat. If I were a betting man, I’d put money on the Bears making a selection at 14. There should be a quality player available at a position of need. Let’s hope it works out that way.

3. Who should the Bears target?

This is such a crapshoot. I’d probably take one of the safeties (Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor), or Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, if he’s available. But all of those players might be gone by 14. (That’s pretty unlikely, especially the idea of both safeties being chosen. But anything’s possible.) In that case, who should they target? I won’t pretend to be a scouting savant, but I think names like Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, Virginia Tech corner (and possible safety conversion prospect) Kyle Fuller, and Oklahoma State corner Justin Gilbert all make sense.

But really, I could toss out 20 names. Drafting from such a large pool of prospects, with such a wide variety of needs on the roster, makes projecting what the Bears will do very difficult. (It doesn’t help that Emery’s last two first round picks were very under the radar selections. One (Kyle Long) has obviously worked out better than the other (Shea McClellin.))

Once the Bears make their selection, we can go about more proper analysis of how the player fits, whether they maximized the value relative to who else was on the board, and what the addition means for the team’s chances this season. And then, of course, we can jump right in to previewing rounds two and three.

This is an exciting day to be a football fan.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

41 responses to “Draft Day 2014”

  1. Nathan

    I think Emery surprises again, but not as crazy. I see him drafting someone like Ryan Shazier. Fits the description as super athletic that Emery likes. If they can trade down with the someone like the Jets, draft Shazier, and pick up an additional pick, that’s a solid first round in my book.

    1. frank

      That would be a surprise–also might be an indication that they’re not entirely convinced that one of McClellin, Bostic, or Greene is going to work out.

  2. Large Internet Companies Come Out in Support of Net Neutrality and Other Bullets | Bleacher Nation | Unofficial Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary

    […] The first day of the NFL Draft is here, and Jay ponders some of the questions that will govern the Bears’ approach. […]

  3. mdavis

    McShay and Kiper’s final mocks are out.

    McShay: Pryor. Notes while he rates Clinton-Dix higher, hears the Bears prefer Pryor
    Kiper: Fuller. Picks him over Dennard. Which I don’t see happening.

    1. cubbiekoolaid2015

      I hope the Bears are higher on Pryor. While I love Ha Ha, I think Pryor brings an intimidation factor to the back end that the Bears haven’t had since Mike Brown.

      1. frank

        I agree–Pryor is much more of a hitter than is Clinton-Dix.

        1. mdavis

          i’m with both of you. Pryor lays some lumber. and with Lacy and AP running down the field you want a guy who’s gonna bring it.

      2. AreWeThereYet

        Pryor would be fine, but with NFL so pass heavy now, I would prefer Clinton-Dix’s pass coverage. Plus, slower, hard hitting safeties are easier to find in later rounds.

        1. frank

          I have read that Pryor’s pass coverage abilities are underrated–and he’s really not much behind Clinton-Dix in that area. Their 40 yd dash times, according to the NFL.com draft profiles, were exactly the same, though Clinton-Dix was better in the shuttle times.

          1. AreWeThereYet

            If that’s true, then yes Pryor could be the better choice. I’m just tired seeing receivers camp out in the middle of our defense.
            (I’d pick two safeties in the draft.)

            1. frank

              Receivers, running backs, offensive linemen after they barrel through the front 7, lingerie league players (well, maybe not SO bad . . .), children playing football . . .

    2. frank

      I did read somewhere that Fuller was considered the best CB in the draft as far as skill. I don’t know enough to say whether I even think that’s the case or not. But Dennard, from what I’ve heard, is more physical, while being highly skilled in his own right. But given the two, I think the Bears would take Dennard before Fuller.

      1. mdavis

        yeah Dennard just seems like more of a Bears type corner. He’s physical. He tackles in run support. And has adequate size 5’11” 200. so I think if that’s the route they go (corner) and Gilbert is gone, Dennard would be the guy. Maybe even if Gilbert is there.

      2. Greenroom

        Good points, most likely. But not that I am saying they will take Fuller, but man he can hit. 6′ for a corner is some good stuff. Regardless of who they take, we are in the position to get an instant contribution to our defense. For this, I am open as can be. I will be drinking a beer in BN Bears supporters at draft time. You can count on that one. Go Bears~

  4. beerhelps

    Fascinating thought on an offensive talent being available at 14. If Evans or Ebron were there I would LOVE the pick. But then again, I was hoping Jimmy Graham would have been available so the Bears could give him ALL THE MONEY. Then maybe defense is less of a concern when you just score 40 a game.

    1. mdavis

      an interesting scenario would be if someone such as Jake Matthews dropped (saw that on..nfl.com? espn? cant remeber). Do they pull the trigger on that, move Mills into a reserve role. I’m not convinced they do, but certainly could see them thinking on it.

      In my humble opion, it would take Donald, Clinton-Dix, Pryor, Gilbert, Dennard, Mosley, Fuiller all to be off the board for them to consider taking an offensive guy. And I just don’t see 2 safeties and 3 corners gone by 14.

      Also, Manziel to Tampa is pickin up steam. Sounds like ownership wants Manziel, Lovie wants Donald (of course)

      1. frank

        That would be interesting–although an upgrade, Mills was actually pretty average last year, and if they can upgrade at an OT position, they’d have to consider it–but with so many needs on defense it’d be pretty hard to pass up a possible starter on that side of the ball, even if you’re getting a starter on the offensive side. It might depend on who they thought they could get in the next round. An upgrade at RT in round 1 and a starter at safety in round 2 (Bucannon, maybe?), and a rotational DT in round 3 (Easley?)? They’d have to consider it.

        1. mdavis

          Yeah i just think you need to stick on def. 1 of Donald, Pryor, Dix, Gilbert, Dennard,Mosley, Fuller will be there.

          1. AreWeThereYet

            Defense over offensive line, yes, but Ebron would fill two needs. TE for the future, and his speed would allow him to act as a slot receiver, another team need, out of 2 TE sets. I’d consider it.

    2. frank

      Hub Arkush said in an article that the top 6 defensive players in the draft are (not in order): Clowney, Barr, Mack, Gilbert, Mosley, and Tuitt. Personally, I don’t think I quite agree with this list. Be that as it may, Arkush says that if none of these players are available at 14, the Bears should trade down, and failing that, go with an offensive player. That is, even if players like Donald, Pryor, Clinton-Dix, Fuller, or Dennard are on the board, the Bears should go offense to get the greatest value for the pick. Part of the reasoning is that Donald is all over the board as far as where he might go and where he ranks in this draft, and the rest just don’t warrant the pick at 14 because the best of them is ranked as the 19th best player.

      1. mdavis

        can’t say i agree with much of that list from him. but that’s what makes it fun. Pompeii did his final mock. Says they should take Mosley. Wouldn’t be mad. Donald, Mosley, Gilbert (i still have irrational love for), Pryor, Dix, Dennard. Maybe Fuller. I’ll be a happy camper. Hageman, Barr, or someone like that I’m punching a koala.

  5. DReese

    I am happy you’re back for draft day Jay, I am really excited for this and I want to read everything about it.

  6. Nathan

    Let’s just hope he doesn’t go off the wall and draft Demarcus Lawrence or something

  7. Adam

    Emery has made surprising picks in his first 2 years, but the positions he has drafted have not been surprises. Both DE and G were big team needs when McClellin and Long were taken. If Emery surpises this time, it will be by taking someone like Deone Bucannon, Jimmie Ward, Ra’Shede Hageman or Louis Nix at #14. I would be fine with those players at #30 if the Bears trade back with say San Fran and pick up and extra 2nd and 3rd rounder. I just hope they aren’t the Bears option at #14. Calvin Pryor would be a much better selection. Then nab a DT like Will Sutton in the 2nd or Cauran Reid in the 3rd. Find a corner like Jean-Baptiste or Pierre Desir in the 2nd or Keith McGill in the 3rd. This is too good of a draft to reach for players.

    1. Coop

      Yes – I was writing my post before this was up – but this is my point exactly. If you are going to make a surprise selection, do it by trading down and increasing value.

      1. mdavis

        I’d like a Pryor, SJB/McGill, Reid draft a lot. I’m not sure McGill will be there in round 3. The size and versatility, plus the move to the big corners may push him into round 2. But i like Desir a lot too

    2. frank

      I really don’t like Ward at 14 and I don’t even like him in round 2–I just don’t see him meriting that high a pick. And I wouldn’t be happy with Hageman at 14 either, given his inconsistency and bust potential. I agree that Nix and Bucannon would be better values in round 2.

      1. mdavis

        would really hate Ward in round 1-2. Bucannon i think is gone end of 1 early 2. Hageman scares the hell outta me.

  8. Coop

    What kills me with the McClellin and Long picks is not that Emery thought they were the best available and went with them, but that he didn’t get good value. He could have and should have traded down to take those guys. I have heard no one say they were in consideration at that range, so he blew value by taking them when he did. It just compounds the problem when one (McClellin) is a total whiff – poor value and poor production – that can really set a franchise back. At least when Jerry was messing up the draft, he was taking guys somewhere around the appropriate range based on national rankings. I am glad Long has worked out so well, but I get frustrated with guys that try to prove they are the smartest dude in the room. I too will look for a Koala or Panda or other cuddly animal to punch if we go outside the box for a Barr or Hageman…

    1. mdavis

      at the same time, maybe they didnt have the option to trade back ya know? if they werent going to get fair value, or maybe the only options to trade back were “too far” back. not saying i disagree, but Emery mentioned earlier that if you’re moving back 6 spots, there better be 6 guys you like and if its the last guy on the list, you had better wnat him. Just food for though. But here’s to hoping its one of the 6 or 7 we’ve all been talking about here.

    2. frank

      I do recall people saying that Long would not have been there when the Bears picked in round 2 because he was getting calls from a number of teams. They may have been able to trade back to get him, if they had the opportunity as mdavis said, but I don’t know how far they would’ve had to, or been able to, go.

      1. Coop

        McClellin was the bigger reach (and that played out as a disaster). Long had first round talent, just not much experience. I could see Long getting some attention and the need to take him lest they lose him. McClellin …. ugh. I hated the pick then and I still hate it now. Makes it doubly painful that the guy I was hoping for (Chandler Jones) has turned out to be a very good player. I was excited when he was still sitting there and then was totally w. t. f. when McClellin was announced. I felt like a J-E-T-S fan, but I booed the TV…

        At least we got a real steal with Alshon…

        1. frank

          I think I spent many hours after that pick just shaking my head. At least if he turns out to be a decent linebacker it won’t be a total waste.

          1. Coop

            I am pretty dubious on that count…

            1. frank

              We can always hope . . .

  9. cubbiekoolaid2015

    In these hours leading up to the draft I’m getting a very nervous feeling that Phil is going to go way off the board and take a guy like SJB with the 14th pick. Really hope we get good value tonight.

    1. frank

      Although SJB would be a good pick–in the 2nd round–I share your hope for good value in this draft. The window’s not very big right now–2-3 years–can’t be messing up draft picks.

      1. cubbiekoolaid2015

        Agree 100%. These next two drafts will be the difference between the Bears being a true contender and the Bears being just another team with underachieving talent.

  10. Jon

    Last night they had a special highlighting the 10 year anniversary of the 2004 draft and the Eli Manning drama.

    For what he pulled I still have no respect for him to this day. It’s one thing to pout and not want to play for a team, but be a man and speak for yourself. He hid behind his daddy like a coward the entire time. Just pathetic. Still pissed he lucked into both those superbowls, last year proved how mediocre he is.

    1. Coop

      Yep – I lived in San Diego at the time. Have hated Eli ever since that day.

  11. Austin

    I badly hope that the Bears select Lyrea the TE that was kicked off of Oregon’s team. He has some baggage but being reconnected with Long and the potential he has could make him a steal for the Bears.