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.