What's up Bears Nation!? Since my last mock, which you can see here, the Chicago Bears have made a ton of new signings that bolstered the defensive side of the ball, in addition to locking up all eleven starters from last season for at least another year. Among those signings, and re-signings, are some key players such as: Charles Tillman, Lamarr Houston, Jared Allen, Willie Young, Jeremiah Ratliff, D.J. Williams, and Ryan Mundy. All of those players help to form a much tougher, hard nosed group, with the DE position seeing by far the biggest change so far.
There are still areas of need at the DT, CB, and Safety positions, where depth is lacking in all three of those groups. Also, the Bears need to find their number 2 RB to Matt Forte after releasing Michael Bush, and would be wise to add a young QB to groom behind Jay Cutler as well as possibly competing with Jordan Palmer for the back-up position. Of course, they could look to add even more weapons on offense, with a complimentary player for Martellus Bennett at TE a possibility, and a speed-type receiver to add into their already deep receiving corps would be nice to see. Without further delay, "with the fourteenth overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select"
1st Round) Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame - Many fans on these boards, including myself, are pining and drooling all over the place for Aaron Donald to be selected in this spot. Well, not only did I draft him in my last mock (link posted above), but there's also no guarantee he will even fall far enough for the Bears to grab him. The Giants pick before the Bears do, and they're likely to be looking at DTs to add into their rotation. But, there is another reason why I went this route, and that is because a true force at NT is arguably an even bigger need than finding the next Henry Melton this year at 3-tech. Technically, the Bears already have a starter at 3-tech in the 4-time Pro Bowler Jeremiah Ratliff, who Jared Allen was very candid about in his introductory press conference. Nate Collins, a solid player who they re-signed as well, projects as the primary back-up at 3-tech, and Stephan Paea is the tweener at NT who also played 3-tech last season. None of those players listed are truly fits at NT, which is where "Irish Chocolate" would fill a major need. He would also add some serious size and power to a group looking to rebound from it's horrid season against the run, as he comes in at 6'2", 330+ lbs. Also, despite the fact the Bears will employ more of a one-gap style of 4-3 next season, it wouldn't hurt to add someone who has flexibility to play as either a gigantic one-gap NT, or as a space-eating 2-gap player in a 3-man front. Perhaps his best attribute, is he's relatively "nimble" for a guy his size. Having a front four of Houston, Ratliff, Nix, and Allen would be a very formidable and big DL for any offense to deal with.
2nd Round) Deone Bucannon, Safety, Washington State - Safety is still a considerable need for the Bears, and in round 2 they can find a great value in this strong prospect. He's got fantastic size at 6'1", 215 lbs, and has a reputation of being an absolute sledgehammer in the secondary. Hard hitting isn't his only specialty, his football I.Q. is also very high, and has decent athleticism to balance with his size. As it stands, Ryan Mundy is the only player who is likely to have clinched a starting role at the Safety position, leaving one open for grabs. If he gets up to speed in terms of learning the defense, Bucannon could definitely find himself in a position to win a job as the other starter.
3rd Round) Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska - When Charles Tillman was re-signed months after Tim Jennings got locked up for four years, the Bears removed the need to find a new starter at CB for the 2014 season. However, this is also a good time to start looking for a successor, as it's only a matter of time before the Bears move on from Charles Tillman, and depth is still a credible need. With the revolution to finding the next Richard Sherman in full effect, a player possessing Jean-Baptiste's skillset will only get more valuable as time goes on. Yet, his combine was still a disappointment, and his coverage skills need to be refined at the next level. Still, he's a monster for his position at 6'3", 218 lbs, and compares relatively close to larger CBs like Brandon Browner and of course Richard Sherman. Seems like wishful thinking at this point, but he would look damn good in a Bears jersey, especially if he falls this far.
4th Round) Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford - When the Bears terminated Michael Bush's contract after yet another bust FA signing was made to pair with Matt Forte at RB, it all but seems like the draft will provide the best option to fill that need. Although this year isn't really a good one to look for your next big-time player, there are plenty of decent options that will cost much less and be less risky than bringing in a FA at the same position. Gaffney offers someone who has a balance of speed and power which compliment Matt Forte rather well, and has potential as a receiver from the back field. His blocking is also solid, which Marc Trestman noted was important in finding the next number two RB.
5th Round) Dri Archer, WR, Kentucky State - If you have a need for speed, this would be perhaps the best way to address that. He clocked a blazing 4.26 at the combine, and played a variety of positions while in college. He played receiver, both from the outside and the slot, and was a nice scat back as well. He would be a great offensive weapon to have hidden with your Pro Bowler tandem at receiver in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. His size is an issue for most teams, but the Bears already have plenty of 6'4" or taller players to feature in the passing game. Another interesting note to consider: a WR has been selected in every draft Phil Emery has been a part of in his NFL career.
6th Round) Connor Shaw, QB, South Carolina - Of all things, QB comes up as a need now that Josh McCown is gone, I had Aaron Murray here the last time I drafted, and after having some time to think on it, I felt Shaw would be a better fit for Trestman's system than Murray would. He's got a great attitude in addition to a solid arm and an ability to make plays out of the pocket, with his decision-making solid as well. Shaw is kinda short for your prototypical NFL QB, but really height isn't nearly as important as being able to flat out ball. He's tough, easy to coach, and would fit like a glove in the QB meeting room.
6th Round) Shamar Stephan, DT, Connecticut - I had him here in my last mock, and I feel he would be a solid "double dip" in terms of beefing the interior of the DL. He has experience with Paul Pasqualoni, and has potential to develop into a solid rotational player at DT,
So, how do you like this mock compared to the last one? Is it better, or worse? As always, sound off in the comments section below.