As I was combing through the data today, I noticed that the Bears literally cannot go wrong with any reasonable action this evening. This include trading back, trading up, or picking the plethora of fine individuals that are likely to be hanging out around 20. There are defensive tackles that are worthwhile, there are offensive linemen, linebackers, tight ends, cornerbacks. And for each instance you can make a solid case for the Bears going that direction.
One of the beautiful part about this draft is: top rated players are going to fall. Someone is going to be available that some team covets, and they'll fall to the right place, and the right time. It's why having the 20th pick in this draft can net some top 10 talent. It's just bound to happen. Combine that with the new CBA, and you have yourself a feeding frenzy in the 12-22 range. Every team will want to trade up and down into that range because the talent is ripe, deep and diverse. Players will fall because teams will pick from need, and pick solid need players, over what truly may be the best player on the board. Smart front offices will be able to squeeze the value in this draft. But for the Chicago Bears, It does not matter what they do here. If they trade down and garner value into the second round, or stockpile picks for next year, there's no wrong method the Bears can take here.
Let me kick you a scenario here: Alec Ogletree, Manti Te'o, Tyler Eifert, Chance Warmack, Sheldon Richardson, Menelik Watson, Sylvester Williams, Justin Hunter, D.J. Fluker might all be in play around that 20th pick of the Bears, and every single one of those players would fit a 'need' for the Bears.
Picking Alec Ogletree (Georgia) or Manti Te'o (Notre Dame) would bring vitality and depth to a linebacker corps that even with D.J. Williams and James Anderson, needs youth, needs a future. There's always the Heir of Urlacher over the position, but without considering him, Williams and Anderson are not long term solutions for the Bears. Lance Briggs is gaining in years; the Bears wouldn't be amiss in dropping their first pick on a linebacker. But it's an option. With the safety depth that the Bears have and the type of division that the NFL North is, it really is an option to have 2 good linebackers and try to fight the Packers and Lions in the Nickel, and fight the Vikings with 8 in the box. The Bears, while needing a linebacker, aren't in a bloodpact with replacing linebackers. Te'o, Ogletree or even Kevin Minter have more upside than Williams or Anderson, but, how much better are they this year? What's next year like? How much impact will they have this year?
It's why picking guys like Tyler Eifert (Notre Dame) and Justin Hunter (Tennessee) could just as easily be the right pick here. Both would provide immediate impact, both would add more receiving threats for the Bears. Even if you don't take further improvements to the offensive line this early, a strong receiving threat would give the Bears options to pass the ball fast and effectively. I don't think any Bears fan needs to be lectured on the value of having 4 good receiver threats after watching Green Bay, New Orleans, New England, and Atlanta Falcons attack through the air. Having an embarrassment of riches at receiver with a competent QB is a surefire way to put points on the board, to get yourself into position to score, and to create matchup issues against teams without serious depth in their pass defense. A guy like Eifert would put a lot of pressure on the middle of the field and add another dimension to the Bears passing attack, or adding another big, explosive receiver like Hunter to learn playing outside and kick Brandon Marshall inside on some downs creates gigantic (literally) matchup problems for teams with 3 big, physical wide receivers over 6'3. But, these are complementary players. They're adding options instead of fixing holes. And that's the position the Bears are in with a lot of the draftees available to them.
There's a few instances where the Bears are weak in depth, like in the defensive tackle position, but, often times, those are very well suited for mid-round picks. 4-3 nose tackles in most systems aren't like 4-3 under tackles, they don't have the same value. Yes, there's a few instances, like in Minnesota, and wherever Dick Jauron is. But for the Bears? They can get by with picking a mid-round DT and watching them grow. But, if you don't really need to pick a linebacker, and another receiever is just adding options, why not invest in that brutal DT to complement Henry Melton and Stephen Paea. Because of all the needs and the great offensive linemen being taken before the Bears, someone like Sheldon Richardson (Missouri) could find his way in the Bears lap, who's athleticism and speed would get great work in the weak interiors of the NFC North, or Sylvester Williams (North Carolina) who has both the anchoring sizes, and first step to do the dirty line work and funnel the play with his body to the linebackers. But, both of those guys? Not impact starters. They wouldn't likely even be starters in the middle of the season. Now, that's not the most important thing we've discovered from the mind of Phil Emery. Look at last years first round pick of Shea McClellin; he was able to bring impact in limited snaps that I don't think either of the nose tackles would provide for the Bears as much this season. But, they would still provide a great safety net and great options for rotation that the Bears need with only 4 DT's on the books. If one of the DT's they feel will supplant Paea, it might be a reasonable bet to take Richardson or Williams if they're available, not looking at this year, but in the future, but if they think that Paea has a real future, they could pick up depth in the later rounds and maybe try looking at the other side of the line.
There's been a mulitiude of Mocks I've seen where at least 2-3 quality linemen find their way down to the Bears. And no, that Quality Lineman isn't name Justin Pugh. There's Menelik Watson (Florida State), D.J. Fluker (Alabama), Chance Warmack (Alabama), Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina). I can't look at the interior linemen among them and say that one of them will definitely be there, Cooper and Warmack are OG's who I feel will be off the board right before the Bears pick, and if the Bears want to fill their interior with talent, moving up those 3-4 picks might be a sure bet. Offensive Guard is the ONLY spot the Bears absolutely need talent to fill, thus, moving up would be a possibility if Warmack or Cooper find their way into the 14-18 range. There's also the option of tackles. I read something that Michael Wilbon posted saying the Bears need to pick 5 linemen this draft and nothing else. But, realistically? The Bears don't need an offensive tackle. The Bears have 3 tackles that can play the game. Yes, yes. I know the cries of 'But Webb is terrible and Carimi is a bust' will follow them until they prove otherwise, but, there's one truth in this game: you cannot have enough talent with offensive tackles. Fluker or Watson wouldn't fit a need per se, but they'd fit a trend, an option, a goal of building a strong offensive line and give Aaron Kromer options. Yes, you may not get Orlando Pace from that method, but you will consistently have cost-controlled, effective linemen, and after we've seen the cost of linemen sharply rise over the past few years, it's good business sense.
And then you have the option of moving back later in the first, or even into the second. Yes, the Bears have needs, but they're not needs like they were last year, these are options, they're growth strategies, they're investments as opposed to products. No one need is glaring enough for the Bears in 2013, and that gives them play. They had a remarkably productive free agency period, and it pays off for them in this time. Moving back and picking from a multitude of great players who aren't needed to fit a role, but are there to complement the Bears. There's even cornerbacks and defensive end that have value for the Bears in that sweet spot low in the draft.
The Bears have so much room to play with their 20th spot in the draft, there's few obviously wrong choices they can make, but making the case that they shouldn't do pick a linebacker because they need to pick an offensive lineman, or they need a defensive tackle with their first pick, or that picking Tyler Eifert is the best value at 20, or going for a corner to add to 2 corners who played at a pro-bowl level last year, or the time honored strategy of YADE (yet another defensive end), or any number of scenarios. None of them are a clear-cut wrong direction for the Bears to take. They may not be the best, but, they will be making progress.
So, I'll open it up here tonight, before the first round starts: Is there anything that the Bears simply cannot do in the first round?