No matter what kind of stats or information various reporters have gathered, it is truly impossible to know what player(s) Phil Emery and the Chicago Bears are targeting at #20. He's only been the General Manager for a year, and despite a lengthy track record of management positions in the NFL, last year was the only true time he ran a draft room and had final say on draft picks.
Emery's first move on the job was the theft of the decade - swiping Brandon Marshall from the Dolphins. It was a shocking move in large part because of the small price he paid for Marshall; looking back a year, you can only say that the Bears won big on that trade and would do it again and thrice on Sunday. But while that surprise move was fantastic on every level, his next surprise move is still debatable as to whether or not it was a worthy gamble.
Taking Shea McClellin in the first round in the 2012 NFL Draft was a move that almost no one saw coming. This article from the Bears website - posted right before last year's draft - collected a bunch of mock drafts from NFL writers guessing who would be the 19th pick in the draft. Ten predictions, ten different players, one correct answer. Mike Lombardi - formerly of NFL Network and currently working for an alleged defrauder - picked McClellin, saying "want a pass rusher... get the hottest guy in the draft." Other mockers (mockees?) ranged their picks from wide receivers (Kendall Wright or Michael Floyd) to other defensive ends (Whitney Mercilus or Chandler Jones).
And let's face it, you didn't see the McClellin pick coming either. Heck, our community mock draft from last year didn't even have Shea in the first round. Emery surprised us, even though the Bears did have their defensive line coach Mike Phair privately work out Shea prior to the draft. We thought defensive line, but not Shea. Maybe offensive line. We begged for Luke Kuechly to fall. Instead, we got a guy with a great motor and strength/containment issues thus far, that people continually ask whether or not he should be a linebacker (note: those people are wrong).
So who do you think could be this year's first-round Emery surprise? A couple of rules (more like guidelines, some of you break rules like it's written in the rules to do so) before you get my answer, though.
Surprise picks can't be guys that are expected to be top-10 picks
Yes, players can slide, and this year is crazy bad at the top, but there is no way that Luke Joeckel, Eric Fisher, or Tavon Austin (that's right) are making it to the Bears. Those tackles will be gone by pick four, and Austin is a high riser that won't slide past the Rams at sixteen. Also, Geno Smith and the top defensive ends aren't making it either, nor is Lane Johnson, so don't say "oooh, if Johnson slid, that'd be a good surprise." No, this is who you think Emery will surprise us with.
Surprise picks can't be the top names or positions linked to the Bears
That would include players like Tyler Eifert, Desmond Trufant, any of the top three middle linebacker prospects (if you need me to name them, get out now), and guards-men Jonathon Cooper and Chance Warmack. I said surprise, which means not what the majority of fans and media-types have been clamoring for.
So... who is left as a surprise Emery pick?
you I asked. Think outside the box and cross off the names you want/expect. It could be a position of hyped need like guard or middle linebacker, but not one of the popular names. Think Justin Pugh at 20th (ouch, I hope that's not it). Maybe a different corner like Xavier Rhodes or D.J. Hayden, or one of a million defensive tackle prospects like Sheldon Richardson or Sylvester Williams that could go anywhere from ten to fifty? Maybe a quarterback or a wide receiver whose name doesn't rhyme with Sayvon Custin.
Who's my surprise Emery pick?
Well, since we're putting on our "what would Phil Emery do" glasses (lanyard sold separately) and making a surprise but defensible selection at twenty, I'm going with a guy I already mentioned, Sylvester Williams, defensive tackle from the North Carolina school of NCAA rule-breaking. He's big (6'3, 313), a natural nose tackle, and has an incredibly high ceiling. Emery likes high ceiling players to mold (based on Shea and Brandon Hardin picks), and Williams would be a great fit next to Henry Melton. Plus, he could split reps with Stephen Paea so that neither would be overwhelmed this year. Williams' draft profile is here.
Who do you think Emery could take as a surprise pick in light of the Shea McClellin selection from last year's first round? Will he surprise us again with the player selected, or will the shock be from the player's position?