By Bob LeGere
Because general manager Phil Emery has done such an efficient job of patching holes in the Bears’ roster on both sides of the ball, he can take the best player on his draft board when the 20th pick rolls around.
And because Emery has played his cards so close to the vest, it’s anybody’s guess which players he has targeted in the first round (Emery says there are 5-7 options). There’s also a decent chance the Bears will trade down — possibly even out of the first round entirely.
It’s certain the top five offensive linemen will be long gone by No. 20. And at some point in the first round there should be a run on wide receivers and cornerbacks. But both runs could come after 20, which would leave the Bears with the option of taking one of the top players at one of those positions.
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith was not mistakenly omitted from this mock draft. But the teams that are most desperate for a quarterback — the Oakland Raiders at No. 3, the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 4, the Cleveland Browns at No. 6, and the Buffalo Bills at No. 8 — may not want to risk such a lofty pick on a player that has questions marks.
It’s also debatable that Smith is the best quarterback in this class, as there is some support for USC’s Matt Barkley, Syracuse’s Ryan Nassib and even Florida State’s E.J. Manuel.
More often than not, however, NFL teams overdraft quarterbacks, and that could happen again this year. The big guys in the trenches are usually safer picks, and that appears to be the case this year. The prediction here is that eight of the first 11 players drafted will be 300-pounders; six of them offensive linemen.
Bob LeGere’s mock NFL draft
1. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) — Safest pick among many areas of need.
2. Jacksonville Jaguars: DE-OLB Dion Jordan (Oregon) — Provides desperately need pass-rush help.
3. Oakland Raiders: DT Sharrif Floyd (Florida) — Replacing departed Tommy Kelly (Desmond Bryant.
4. Philadelphia Eagles: OT Eric Fisher (Central Michigan) — Could use a QB, too, but not this high.
5. Detroit Lions: CB Dee Milliner (Alabama) — Need OL help more, so Lane Johnson is possible.
6. Cleveland Browns: OG Chance Warmack (Alabama) — Not a sexy pick but a solid building block.
7. St. Louis Cardinals: OT Lane Johnson (Oklahoma) — Their O-line makes the Bears’ look spectacular.
8. Buffalo Bills: OG Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina) — Replacement for Andy Levitre; could reach for Geno Smith.
9. New York Jets: LB Barkevious Mingo (LSU) — Rex Ryan needs to win now, and they get instant pass rush.
10. Tennessee Titans: DT Star Lotulelei (Utah) — Get great value with athletic anchor for D-line.
11. San Diego Chargers: OT D.J. Fluker (Alabama) — They can’t win if Rivers gets sacked 49 times.
12. Miami Dolphins: DE Ezekiel Ansah (BYU) — Betting on potential and elite physical skills.
13. New York Jets: (from Tampa Bay) WR Tavon Austin (West Virginia) — Need more offensive weapons to help QB situation.
14. Carolina Panthers: DT Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) — Ron Rivera’s team needs to get stronger in the middle.
15. New Orleans Saints: LB Alec Ogletree (Georgia) — Elite talent outweighs character concerns.
16. St. Louis Rams: WR Cordarrelle Patterson (Tennessee) — Raw talent but has big-play capability they need.
17. Pittsburgh Steelers: LB Jarvis Jones (Georgia) — It’s time to replenish all the LB talent they’ve lost.
18. Dallas Cowboys: S Kenny Vaccaro (Texas) — Continue secondary upgrade after taking Claiborne 1st in 2012.
19. New York Giants: DT Sylvester Williams (North Carolina) — Best defensive player available for a bad defense.
20. CHICAGO BEARS: LB Manti Te’o (Notre Dame) — Teammate TE Tyler Eifert a popular pick here, but no need with Martellus Bennett.
21. Cincinnati Bengals: CB Xavier Rhodes (Florida State) — Alabama RB Eddie Lacy makes sense, too.
22. St. Louis Rams: (from Washington) RB Eddie Lacy (Alabama) — The every-down workhorse to replace Steven Jackson.
23. Minnesota Vikings: CB Desmond Trufant (Washington) — Latest edition in the NFL’s first family of CBs.
24. Indianapolis Colts: DE Bjoern Werner (Florida State) — Without Freeney they need another pass rusher.
25. Minnesota Vikings: (from Seattle) WR Keenan Allen (California) — Some firepower to replace Percy Harvin and help QB.
26. Green Bay Packers: TE Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame) — Great value; as if Aaron Rodgers needs another weapon.
27. Houston Texans: WR Justin Hunter (Tennessee) — Pro Bowl WR Andre Johnson can’t do it alone.
28. Denver Broncos: DE Datone Jones (UCLA) — He’s not Elvis Dumervil, but he should help.
29. New England Patriots: WR DeAndre Hopkins (Clemson) — Tom Brady needs more than TEs to throw to.
30. Atlanta Falcons: CB Jonathan Banks (Mississippi State) — Secondary needs someone opposite Asante Samuel.
31. San Francisco 49ers: DT-NT John Jenkins (Georgia) — Athletes with the size to play nose in 3-4 defense are rare.
32. Baltimore Ravens: S Matt Elam (Florida) — Ed Reed’s departure leaves a gaping hole.
ź Follow Bob’s NFL reports on Twitter @BobLeGere, and check out his Bear Essentials blog at dailyherald.com/sports.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.