With the NFL Draft looming just two days away, Grizzly Detail is taking a look at the different positions that the Chicago Bears could address in the draft, and whether or not they need to make each spot a priority when things get underway at Radio City Music Hall.
Today we’re switching to the defensive side of the ball, and we will begin by looking at the team’s defensive line.
The Bears have been working really hard during the offseason on fundamentally restructuring their defensive line. Gone are players like Corey Wootton and Julius Peppers, but in their place are a slew of new contributors. First and foremost on that list is defensive end Jared Allen, and he is joined at the end position by Lamarr Houston, formerly of the Oakland Raiders. The Bears also brought Jeremiah Ratliff back with a new contract, and they also brought in Willie Young to help at the end spot.
Despite all of those moves, the Bears are still woefully thin at their defensive tackle spot. Ratliff and Stephen Paea are both projected starters right now, and Nate Collins will be looked at to fill a depth role. That isn’t exactly an ideal situation, and it’s a big part of the reason why the Bears are looking at potentially taking a defensive tackle in the first round when the draft starts on Thursday.
Going into the season with Paea and Ratliff as the two undisputed starters is not a smart idea. The Bears were ravaged by injuries all over the field, and if they have a repeat performance, they could be looking at another long season of defensive ineptitude.
With that in mind, the Bears are going to be looking at a slew of options to take at the defensive tackle position. First and foremost on that list has got to be Aaron Donald, who despite being on the smallish side has incredible quickness and brutish strength, and has the potential to be one of the best backfield disrupters in the game. Timmy Jernigan from Florida State is another possibility, but his draft stock could be impacted by the fact that he failed a drug test at the NFL Combine in February.
If the Bears end up trading down in the draft (a real possibility if teams are wanting trade up for a quarterback like Derek Carr or Teddy Bridgewater), then there are some other options who could be available in the late first round or early second round. Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III, both of Notre Dame, would be huge guys that could really plug up the middle of the field, although the knock on Nix is that he would fit in more with a 3-4 defense where he could play nose tackle. Will Sutton out of Arizona State has also been mentioned as a potential target for the Bears a bit later in the draft if they decide to go cornerback or safety in the first round.
Round to Address Position: 1st or 2nd