Bears general manager Phil Emery and his staff have pared their list and are prepared to pick one of six players they believe could be available and are worthy of the 14th overall selection in Thursday's NFL draft.
"Every day we keep narrowing it in terms of defining who that group is," Emery said. "I'd be happy that two out of the six were on the board at our pick, and I'd be ecstatic if three out of the six were on the board at our pick."
Most, if not all, of those targeted six are defensive players, an area the Bears are expected to focus on throughout the three-day selection meeting. Especially with their first pick, it would be a shock if the Bears drafted an offensive player.
"It's always possible," Emery said. "But I would say it's improbable. In the first round, I would say only quarterback (would be a consideration). That would be the only surprise pick to me."
Emery would much rather have the top three quarterbacks -- Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater -- all off the board by the time the Bears' pick rolls around. That would give them more options among the elite defensive players.
The Bears' needs are, in order, tackle, safety, cornerback and linebacker. If it comes down to a choice of players with equal grades, Emery would be expected to lean toward tackle, since he places the highest value on linemen.
If the league's other decision-makers agree with Emery that the strength of this draft is on offense, it should leave more defensive options on the board for the Bears.
"This is an offensive-orientated draft in terms of the talent level and the depth of the talent," Emery said. "It's more on offense than it is on defense. I'm not going to say it's going to be all defensive picks (for the Bears), but the picks that we do make on defense are obviously ones we feel can help us win this fall and in the future."
Three offensive tackles -- Greg Robinson, Jake Matthews and Taylor Lewan -- all could be top-10 picks. And three wide receivers -- Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and Odell Beckham -- could be gone by the time the Bears are on the clock.
The quarterbacks are a bit of a wild card. Defensive studs such as defensive Jadeveon Clowney and Khalil Mack will be long gone by No. 14.
The consensus next-best defensive players are, in no particular order, tackle Aaron Donald, safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor, cornerbacks Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard and linebacker C.J. Mosley.
The Bears are expected to draft one of them.
If Donald is gone, which appears a strong possibility, secondary becomes the primary need. If the Bears want to immediately upgrade a safety position that's wide open, according to Emery, they'll probably have to pull the trigger in Round 1 because there isn't much quality depth.
After the top two, NIU's Jimmie Ward is considered a late first-round or early second-round pick, and then there's a big drop-off.
There's more depth at cornerback, but the top five could all go in the first round.
The Bears might be able to get Charles Tillman's successor in the second or third round, but even in a good CB class that's more of a gamble on potential than proven production.
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