ATLANTA, GA - OCTOBER 29: Andre Branch #40 of the Clemson Tigers tackles Preston Lyons #27 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 29, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
After weeks of build up the draft is finally here. In just a few hours the Indianapolis Colts will oficially make Andrew Luck the #1 pick in the 2012 Draft. Then a few hours after that, the Chicago Bears will be on the clock at #19, and in my opinion they will select a defensive end. A quality pass rusher isn't just a need position for the Bears, but it could also be the best player available, as there are a handful of good, solid prospects that should be available at that spot. After the jump I'll take a quick look at the potential 4-3 DEs the Bears could covet at #19, and a look at the 18 teams drafting ahead of Chicago to see who might be a threat to pluck a 1st round DE away from Phil Emery and the Bears.
Here's a list of players that seem to be agreed upon by most scouts as potential 1st round defensive ends. They are in no particular order, and the links provided on each name will take you to their NFL.com profile page. Heights and weights listed are from the combine.
Quinton Coples, North Carolina, 6'6" 284
Melvin Ingram, South Carolina, 6'1" 264
Courtney Upshaw, Alabama, 6'2" 272
Nick Perry, USC, 6'3" 271
Andre Branch, Clemson, 6'4" 259
Whitney Mercilus, Illinois, 6'4" 261
Chandler Jones, Syracuse, 6'5" 266
These seem to be the seven that most scouts agree on could be 1st rounders in tonight's draft. But a few others are creeping into the round one discussion. Marshall's Vinny Curry (6'3" 266) has been rumored to the Bears by a few publications, and Boise State's Shea McClellin (6'3" 260) has come on strong of late for 4-3 teams both as a DE and as a OLB that would rush the passer in passing situations. But for the sake of argument we'll just focus on the number seven, as in; Are there 7 teams picking above the Bears that may want a DE?
We can immediately forget the first six teams picking, the Colts, Redskins, Vikings, Browns, Buccaneers, and Rams will all pick something other than a DE. The only potential wild card is if someone trades up to one of these spots, but even then I can't see a team moving up that high for a DE.
The Jacksonville Jaguars pick 7th, and they could be the first team taking someone off the DE board. Many mocks have them taking Ingram and a few still have them going with Coples. Regardless who they actually select, they are a threat to go DE.
The Dolphins are up 8th and most link them to a QB. They are followed by the Panthers and they have more pressing needs than an edge rusher. The Bills are up next and they spent a lot of money on pass rushers during free agency so we can cross them off the list. They are followed by the Chiefs who run a 3-4, and most mock drafters don't have them seeking a pass rusher either.
Which brings us to the 11th pick and the Seattle Seahawks. Many experts have them going with whichever DE the Jags pass on, but it's not quite as consensus as some have them going DT or LB. For arguments sake we'll assume that the second defensive end falls off the list at #11.
The Cardinals aren't rumored to be looking at a DE, however the Cowboys may surprise and opt for a pass rusher to play opposite DeMarcus Ware, but most have them going safety and I tend to agree. Their division rival Eagles are up next at #15 and they could use help on defense, especially on the line and they are mocked either DT or DE by many experts so we'll have to consider them for stealing another DE off the board. And we'll have to assume the Jets at #16 will take a pass rusher too, so that's four guys potentially off our board.
Experts are divided over the Bengals and Chargers picks at #17 and #18 respectively, but if the worst case scenario has them both taking a DE off the board above, that will still leave one defensive end standing for the Bears to take. And I don't know about you , but I would be comfortable with any of those 7 players becoming Chicago Bears with the 19th pick.