Phil Emery is heading into his second year as general manager of the Chicago Bears and the only thing we know for certain about his plans for the Draft is that we know nothing.
It’s certain that Emery passed on a lucrative career on the poker circuit to pursue a career in football.
As he did last year, Emery struck quick when the free agent market opened.
Within hours, tight end Martellus Bennett was signed to a four-year contract. Later that evening Emery raided the New Orleans Saints for veteran left tackle Jermon Bushrod, signing him to a five-year contract to finally put a seal on a position that has been as watertight as a sieve the past few seasons.
Emery has spent the rest of his time prior to the Draft continuing to build depth on both offense and defense. Now he needs to continue strengthening the offensive line, particularly at guard and center. Also on offense, the Bears need a wide receiver with speed that can stretch an opponent’s secondary and create space for Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery to operate.
On defense, even if Brian Urlacher had signed for 2013, the Bears are at a point where they need young talent at linebacker, especially after former general manager Jerry Angelo failed on 9 of 10 picks at the position.
They also need defensive tackle depth and, in today’s pass-happy NFL, a cornerback to continue to build youth and depth in their secondary.
The Bears have five picks in the 2013 NFL Draft in the first, second, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
Contrary to most opinions the ability of the Bears to trade down and acquire extra draft picks is limited. There aren’t enough “must haves” in this Draft to justify a team surrendering an extra pick to the Bears to trade into their spot.
They will have to find a way to make do with the five picks they have. With that in mind it’s time to play the Chicago Bears' edition of “Predict the Draft Pick”.
Round 1, No. 20 Overall – Kevin Minter, Inside Linebacker, LSU
The Bears begin the process of getting younger at linebacker with Minter in the first round.
Minter has good instincts to read plays quickly and close on the ball. When he gets there he’s able to shed blockers and strong enough to he’s deliver a shot while showing good fundamentals in wrapping up to make the tackle.
With D.J. Williams signed for one year to play middle linebacker in 2013 there’s time to groom Minter as the heir apparent.
Chance Warmack or Jonathan Cooper would be more preferable choices here but both have had their draft stock rise so high in the past month that neither will likely be available by the time the Bears draft.
As to the other linebackers in the Draft, Alec Ogletree is the best athlete of the available prospects which makes it unlikely he’ll be on the board by the time the Bears’ pick.
Jarvis Jones has spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal in any area of the spine. It can cause problems as slight as numbness or as serious as loss of motor control. While there still is a lot of uncertainty about the condition and its long-term effects it makes Jones too high of a risk to take at No. 20.
Round 2, No. 50 Overall – Travis Frederick, Center, Wisconsin
At 6'4" and 330+ pounds he has the size and strength to physically match up with any defensive tackle in the NFL. He’s quick out of his stance with good balance to hold his position when pass blocking and makes hard contact to open holes in the running game. He was a guard before playing center in his senior season so there is still plenty of room for improvement as he gains experience through training camp and the preseason.
Round 4, No. 117 Overall – Ryan Swope, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M
Swope has the speed the Bears need for a slot receiver. He ran the 40-yard dash at the Combine in 4.3 seconds. He runs routes well and has the ability to use that speed to get separation coming out of breaks.
Swope has strong hands and can catch the ball in coverage. If a defender doesn’t wrap him up on contact he has the ability to slip a tackle and use his speed to break a play open.
Swope will need to add strength to break contact at the line of scrimmage when pressed and for down-field blocking assignments but that process starts when he hits the field for mini-camp workouts. What he has are the skills to develop into another productive receiver for the Bears’ receivers group.
Round 5, No. 153 Overall – Terry Hawthorne, Cornerback, Illinois
The Bears need to get younger at cornerback with Charles Tillman now 32 years old with 11 years in the NFL, Tim Jennings and Kelvin Hayden are at the upper edge of the age range for the position at 29 and Zack Bowman is 28.
In addition, all five hit the free agent market after the 2013 season.
Hawthorne is tall and physical, a necessity when dealing with the height of receivers populating the NFC North division.
He has good quickness and closing speed in coverage. While he and the rest of the Illinois defense struggled in 2012, Hawthorne has the talent to be a starting cornerback in the NFL.
Round 6, No. 188 Overall – Josh Boyd, Defensive Tackle, Mississippi State
Has the skills of a nose tackle but there are scouts who think he can switch to three-technique in the NFL.
He has average size but is quick off the ball and strong legs that he keeps moving when engaged at the line of scrimmage. NFL.com compares him to Anthony Adams in skills and potential.
Everyone in this round is a longshot to become a contributing NFL player but Boyd has the skills to be a productive part of the Bears’ defensive line for years to come.