With the 2012 regular season in the books, the first twenty picks for the 2013 NFL draft are set. Since the Chicago Bears finished with the best record of any non-playoff team at 10-6, they get the final "lottery" spot at #20. The Chiefs claim the top pick, while the Lions get to select fifth. Courtesy of the mothership, here is the determined draft order so far, with each team's strength of schedule:
1. Kansas City Chiefs (2-14) .516 SOS
2. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-14) .539
3. Oakland Raiders (4-12) .469
4. Philadelphia Eagles (4-12) .508
5. Detroit Lions (4-12) .566
6. Cleveland Browns (5-11) .508
7. Arizona Cardinals (5-11) .559
8. Buffalo Bills (6-10) .480
9. New York Jets (6-10) .512 (4-8 conference record)
10. Tennessee Titans (6-10) .512 (5-7 conference record)
11. San Diego Chargers (7-9) .457
12. Miami Dolphins (7-9) .500
13. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-9) .502
14. Carolina Panthers (7-9) .516
15. New Orleans Saints (7-9) .522
16. St. Louis Rams (7-8-1) .537
17. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-8) .465
18. Dallas Cowboys (8-7) .515
19. New York Giants (9-7) .522
20. Chicago Bears (10-6) .514
The remaining twelve spots will be determined by how the playoffs shake out. The Redskins first round pick will go to the Rams thanks to the Robert Griffin III trade - think the Redskins are happy to hand over that pick - and the next highest traded pick is the Raiders second round pick (35th overall) going to the Bengals as a part of the lopsided Carson Palmer deal. Here's the playoff teams and their strength of schedules:
21. St. Louis Rams (via Washington Redskins) (9-6) .496
22. Minnesota Vikings (10-6) .518
23. Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) .437
24. Indianapolis Colts (11-5) .441
25. Seattle Seahawks (11-5) .506
26. Baltimore Ravens (10-6) .496
27. Green Bay Packers (11-5) .508
28. San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1) .504
29. Houston Texans (12-4) .496
30. New England Patriots (12-4) .496
31. Denver Broncos (13-3) .457
32. Atlanta Falcons (13-3) .421
With the Bears picking at twenty, they're not in a prime position to pick up one of the top players in the draft, but they likely will be in a position like last year to have their pick of quality players. Last year Phil Emery had to choose between a plethora of defensive ends and a few offensive line options before selecting Shea McClellin at 19th overall.
A few weeks ago we ran a poll on what position the Bears should target in the first round, with offensive tackle being the heavy favorite with 62% of the vote. Guard and tight end tied for second with 12% each, followed by linebacker at 8%. Three out of four of those positions are weaknesses for the team, while linebacker needs an influx of youth and talent to successfully bridge to a post-Urlacher defensive unit.
While a lot of the chatter about the Bears draft pick has centered on Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o, all the mock drafts I looked at have him gone before the Bears pick (the latest was Te'o going to the Steelers at 17). Alabama guard/center Barrett Jones is another possibility, but the mock drafts focus the Bears pick in the same direction as you: offensive tackle.
I looked at six mock drafts for the 2013 draft, and only one had the Bears drafting anything other than an offensive tackle in the first round, and that divergence comes with a caveat. CBSSports' Rob Rang and Drafttek both selected Eric Fisher, offensive tackle from Central Michigan. Draftek commented:
Chicago's OL positional juggling led to an inconsistent performance in 2012 (and a nervous Jay Cutler). The rebuilding starts with the blind side and Eric Fisher is a "dancing bear" (good footwork) who is also used to the environment in the northern Midwest... a good fit for 'da Bears!
The Bears have had one of the worst offensive lines in the league the past couple seasons and need talent at a few spots up front. Matthews is a sound blocker on the right side and could be good enough to move to the left in the NFL.
FootballsFuture says about Matthews:
While not a freak athlete, Matthews does have quick enough feet, awareness, and toughness to man the left tackle position.
Dane Brugler from CBSSports selected offensive tackle Lane Johnson from Oklahoma. Brugler already had Matthews off the board at #11 to the Chargers, and Fisher going to the Rams at #16. With Luke Joeckel from Texas A&M the consensus top offensive tackle in the draft, expect to hear a lot more about those three tackles listed above, along with Tyler Lewan from Michigan, who right now is a borderline top-ten pick.
The one mock draft that didn't have the Bears selecting an offensive tackle at #20 was WalterFootball, who went with ILB Alec Ogletree from Georgia. WalterFootball obviously took the status of Brian Urlacher into consideration with the pick, saying:
The Bears will have to find a replacement (for Urlacher) this offseason - perhaps in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. They'll probably be interested in Alec Ogletree, who has been tremendous for Georgia this season. (He) is arguably the top prospect available.
The caveat I mentioned above is that WalterFootball has the Bears selecting offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (Alabama) in round two. In almost every mock draft I looked at, players like Barrett Jones, Tyler Eifert, and Jonathan Cooper were all still available at #20, but were selected later in the first round.
What do you think about the mock drafts? Agree, disagree? Any other names you're looking at for first-round consideration for the Bears?