Chicago Bears: With draft looming, questions abound

With more questions than answers so far, one thing is for certain. The Chicago Bears will look different in 2014. Changes to the coaching staff, different schematic outlooks on defense and a second year under head coach Marc Trestman’s high-flying offense are all intriguing plot points in what is sure to be an exciting 2014 campaign.

However, we must first focus on the all-important offseason and how the Bears will use their picks in the upcoming NFL Draft in May.

Chicago Bears’ draft questions

Early Thursday, Trestman offered his take on what area they would focus on throughout the draft. As expected, he said it will be a “defensive-oriented” draft, as the Bears as a whole look to improve a unit that allowed the most points (478) and passing yards ( 6,313) in team history.

The hiring of defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni and  linebackers Reggie Herring was the first step in the process of getting the defense back to prominence. The Bears will remain a base 4-3 defense, but having defensive coaches with experience in different schemes will only help them get back to being the Monsters of the Midway.

With the NFL combine getting underway, coaches and general managers will get to see what these guys can do up close and personal and be able to determine who fits certain needs. The question everyone seems to be asking is — what will the Bears do with their picks? Let’s take a look at some possible scenarios.

Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State

Multiple draft analysts have the 6-foot-2, 298-pound tackle falling to the Bears at 14, which is an encouraging sign. Jernigan ate up mostly everything that dared come close to him, registering 63 tackles. He helped the Seminole defense become one of the best in the country, and was an integral part of their BCS National Championship victory.

He definitely has the tools to shore up a defensive line that was plagued with injuries and overall uncertainty. Defensive tackle Henry Melton, who will be coming off a torn ACL, is a free agent and fellow lineman Shea McClellin will now be in a linebacker competition for the middle and strong-side spot after it was announced that he will be moved to the LB position.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama

We all know the struggles at the safety position for the Bears last season. Most people will say a certain safety ( *cough Chris Conte cough*) cost them a chance at the playoffs in Week 17, and fellow safety Major Wright was nothing to write home about, either. SEC football, especially Alabama, breeds athleticism, and Clinton-Dix more than fits that bill.

The 6-foot-1, 201-pound ball-hawk has been compared to the likes of Eric Berry, Kenny Vaccaro, and Eric Reid among others in terms of his production in college and style of play, so people should know what to expect from Clinton-Dix. Over three seasons, he has amassed seven interceptions, 99 total tackles along with 58 solo tackles, and 10 passes defended. Stats alone don’t do him justice, however, as watching him trail receivers and ball-hawk is a thing of beauty.

Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame

With McClellin sliding in to the linebacker position, Tuitt could be an interesting fit for the Bears. One of the biggest questions is if the Bears will re-sign defensive end Corey Wootton or not, but either way Tuitt would be a welcome addition to the defensive line. Even though the Bears are sticking with the 4-3 look, he is versatile enough to be put anywhere on the line.

There is no doubt Tuitt has the size of a d-lineman, coming in at 6-foot-2 and 322 pounds, but he also has the quickness to get off the line as fast as possible, and getting to the quarterback is something the Bears struggled with last season.

The Bears have a lot to address this offseason, most notably in free agency. Twenty-six free agents take up most of the team’s stacked to-do list, so get ready for an exciting offseason.

  • sdtex

    So let me get thsi straight in regards to Ha-Ha……….breaking down his stats, he’s averaging 2.3 interceptions per year, 33 tackles per year, 17 solo tackles per year and 3.3 passes defended per year. And this is playing for Alabama who usually plays at least 12 – 13 games per year and is usually playing with a lead so that teams pass more against them. Huh?? Just for fun and conversation, Let’s compare statistical totals with Bears current maligned safety, Chris Conte over the last 3 years: Interceptions: Conte – 6, Dix – 7, Total Tackles: Conte – 187, Dix – 99, Solo Tackles: Conte – 148, Dix – 58, Passes Defended: Conte – 18, Dix – 10. Now what doesn’t show in the stats (and before all bears fans get up in arms) is “missed tackles” or “blown assignments”. Just a little illustration though of how stats aren’t the only thing to look at when evaluating talent. Looking at only the stats above Conte is clearly and by far the better palyer and why woudl we even consider replacing him with Ha-Ha??

    • Jon feigenbaum

      EXACTLY-Conte CAN’T TACKLE. When the Bears had a halfway decent front seven, it masked many of Contes’ shortcomings. When he had to make solo tackles last year, he stunk.

      • sdtex

        Actually this was one of the points I was trying to make, though it didn’t come across that way. Trust me, I know football and in no way was I trying to defend Conte……..I think he failed miserably in his performance on the field. He;s one of the worst tacklers I’ve seen and takes terrible angles in pursuit, BUT, my point was that people can get all hung up in stats and combine results (hi jump, broad jump, hand strength, wing span, etc. The only question is can the guy play football!! All of these drills at the combine, does it show who can tackle?? Nope……and yet why didn’t the coaches realize this during spring drills and work on it. Watch how Conte drops his head just prior to impact…….terrible technique. My original comments were made to start a conversation and to show how stats can actually be turned into anything you want. If I were to put those stats I posted next to each other without names attached, who would you think was a more productive player?

    • E DUB BEARS 4 LIFE

      Conte is not built to be a starter in the NFL. To play his position you need to be a smart player, instinctive and reliable last line of defense. He is none of the above he is fast but not fast enough, he is athletic but not athletic enough. And I agree with Jon below his tackling is horrible but what do you expect he came from CAL LOL