With the 7th Pick in This Year’s NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears Select…

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A look at some of the options the Bears will have with the 7th pick in the NFL Draft.

Landon Collins, Chicago Bears


After finding their GM and head coach, assuming John Fox is the guy, the Chicago Bears will shift their focus to improving the roster of an underachieving 5-11 team. Come late-April, the front office will not have to travel very far in order to do that.

With this year’s NFL Draft set to make its Chicago debut, Ryan Pace and his crew will only have to make a thirty-five mile trek south to start rebuilding the charter franchise. Thanks to the Phil Emery’s ineptitude, the team will be trying to improve the same positions as last offseason.

With the seventh pick in the draft, the Bears will have plenty of options: from pass-rushing defensive ends to hard-hitting safeties, let’s take a look at some of the players that might be available.

Defensive End

Despite spending more money on this position than any other in the last offseason, the Bears still struggled mightily with their pass rush. Apparently Jared Allen saved all his calf-roping for his professional bull riding, because the veteran defensive end was basically a non-factor last year.


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The only bright spot was Willie Young, but even he proved that he is most effective in spells and is not an every-down lineman.

There are two defensive ends with top-10 talent. Midwestern boys Randy Gregory (Nebraska) and Shane Ray (Missouri) would instantly improve the line. The question is whether either of them will be available when the seventh pick rolls around.

Gregory is a 6’6″ speed pass rusher with some rough edges. He will have to bulk up and work on his technique, but his size and athleticism have him going as high as second overall in some mock drafts. Shane Ray on the other hand was an All-American who has proven to be a very versatile pass rusher. He is a few inches shorter than Gregory, but he is just as explosive and would work well off the end in either a 4-3 or 3-4 defense.

Linebacker

The Bears trotted out an assorted cast of linebackers throughout the season, and every combination played like hot garbage during their time. With Lance Briggs bidding farewell to his former teammates and, hopefully, the ‘Shea McClellin Experiment’ mercifully coming to an end, the Bears are left with an even bigger void in the middle of their defense. Luckily, this year’s draft has a wealth of talent at the linebacker position and, unlike the defensive ends, some of these prospects might be available for the Bears’ pickings.

Vic Beasley (Clemson) is a two-time All-American who recorded double-digit sacks in his junior and senior years, respectively. Obviously, with those numbers, it’s apparent that he can get after the QB. But, many scouts are praising Beasley’s first step. He may be a reach at seven, but could prove to be an impact player.

The Bears desperately need a middle linebacker, however. Benardick McKinney (Miss St.) is an absolute beast, measuring in at 6’4″ and 250 lbs. His weaknesses are his speed and range though. Brian Urlacher showed us, for over a decade, how important a MLB who could get out of his stance and into coverage can be to a 4-3 defense.

Safety

Conte. Mundy. Vereen. McCray. Opposing QB’s were licking their chops all year waiting to exploit these guys. The Bears passed on HaHa Clinton-Dix last year and tried, to no avail, upgrading the secondary via free agency.

Well this year, they get another chance to draft an Alabama safety. Landon Collins, whom many mocks have going to the Bears, will most likely be available when Pace makes his selection.

Many scouts have noted that his coverage skills seemed to improve throughout the season. But, his real strengths are against the run. He is a great tackler who plays downhill. I know Lovie is gone, but he also has a penchant for taking the ball away. If the Bears think he is worthy of the seventh pick, he may be the linchpin of the Chicago secondary for years to come.

Final Decision

Ultimately, you want your high draft picks to play close to the ball and be involved in as many plays as possible. That is why many teams go after pass rushers and linemen with their top-ten selection.

So, taking a player like Collins may be a reach. With a plethora of DE/OLB hybrids available, I’d expect the Bears to go after a pass rusher or linebacker with their first pick.

The key to drafting the right player at that position, however, is to make sure you have a defined role for him. You do not want another Shea McClellin “tweener” on the roster. With so many options out there at number seven, there is one thing that is certain: Ryan Pace has his work cut out for him.

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