(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Bears General Manager Phil Emery says he continues to focus on rebuilding a Bears defense that was historically bad last season and will stay on that side of the ball, for the most part, during next week's NFL draft.
"That could mean all seven picks, that could mean 4-3 [picks] if we pick an extra pick or 4-4," Emery said Thursday.
The Bears currently have seven picks with the fourteenth overall in the first round. But he warns, "this is an offense-oriented draft in terms of the talent level. It's more on offense than defense."
Emery says he doesn't know when they'll pick defensive players but when they do they want impact players, those that can help the Bears win right away.
Despite a rash of free agent signings this offseason -- Jared Allen, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston and Ryan Mundy -- the Bears still have needs on defense on the line and in the defensive backfield at safety.
"It's wide open," Emery admitted, telling each player they signed, "best player wins." Though there is a perceived drop-off in talent at safety after the first few players, Bears scouts are looking at cornerbacks that can switch to safety too.
"We've looked at every corner that has length as a possible safety," he said. Emery admits it's not that easy to project, "to take a college corner and make a safety out of him that's a big jump."
As Emery makes his phone calls to potential picks this week, they are looking at cornerbacks with a fine tooth comb for other reasons: an eye towards the future. Though they currently have Pro Bowlers Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings manning the defensive backfield, Tillman is on a one-year contract after another injury plagued season.
"You're always looking at the big picture," Emery said. "Yes you want to fill what your perceived needs are, but you also want to fill what your needs are down the road."
The Bears pick fourteenth overall in the first round and say they have narrowed their list to six players potentially available, hoping they can pick from two or three. A run on quarterbacks in the top 12 picks would help, as more quality defensive players could fall to Chicago at 14.