By the end of the three-day NFL draft, it would come as no surprise if the Bears have added an interior offensive lineman, a linebacker, a cornerback, a defensive lineman, a receiver and maybe a quarterback.
Guessing what order those players arrive in is the hard part. Thursday’s first-round pick, if it isn’t traded, could be used on almost any position.
General manager Phil Emery says he’s amenable to trading down from No. 20 in the first round, but he may have trouble finding a team to take that offer. Several teams are seeking to move down, believing that the talent is fairly evenly distributed throughout the first round and into the early second round.
In terms of positional strength, this year’s draft features five offensive linemen who could go in the first 15 picks, three left tackles and two guards. Interior O-line is a position the Bears need to upgrade, but the elite guards — Chance Warmack and Jonathan Cooper — won’t be around at No. 20.
The linebacker talent is thin, so the Bears might need to get one early if they consider that their top priority, although seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Lance Briggs was a third-round pick.
The cornerback class is talented and deep, so the Bears could wait awhile before choosing a young player to groom behind aging Charles Tillman (32) and Tim Jennings (29), both of whom made the Pro Bowl last season.
“Some of the positions that I would say are more attractive to us, there are teams in the league that (also have) a lot of interest in,” Emery said. “(But) there are other strong positions in this draft (like) corner and safety, (along with) defensive line and offensive line. I would say the tight ends and wide receivers are above average. I would say that the running backs and quarterbacks are average.”
Last year the Bears used the 19th pick on defensive end Shea McClellin, who exhibited some pass-rush potential. He had a modest 2½ sacks but was credited with 14 QB pressures, third best on the team.
Their second-round pick (50th overall) this year is the same spot where they took wide receiver Alshon Jeffery a year ago. He caught 24 passes for 267 yards but was stymied by a broken hand and a hamstring injury that caused him to miss six games, although he started in the final four.
The Bears are currently without a third-round pick, which belongs to the Miami Dolphins as part of the trade for Brandon Marshall. If Emery can find a first-round trade partner, he’d like to get a later first-round pick in addition to a third-rounder.
If Emery uses the first pick on a linebacker to provide a needed infusion of youth, Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, Georgia’s Alec Ogletree and Kansas State’s Arthur Brown are all considerations, depending on whether the Bears stay at 20 or move down.
Ogletree may be the most athletically gifted linebacker in the draft, but he comes with character concerns stemming from a pair of arrests and a drug suspension. It’s unknown if the Bears have red-flagged Ogletree, but it’s certain that they have investigated his background.
“I won’t get into specific issues with players,” Emery said. “I will tell you this — that we do our homework. We work extremely hard at knowing the character of the players. And then whatever we find out about their background, their personal behavior and any incidents they’ve been involved in off the field, (we decide) whether we find those acceptable for us and whether the fit’s right for us.”Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.