Kiper: Bears can’t wait to draft elite DL

Kiper: Bears can’t wait to draft elite DL
February 6, 2014, 9:30 am
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General manager Phil Emery issued a draft mission statement that the Bears would weight their draft heavily toward the defensive side of the ball. With the injuries in 2013 at defensive tackle (Nate Collins, Henry Melton, Stephen Paea) and inadequate end play (Shea McClellin, Julius Peppers), and the importance of the area, the defensive line in general is expected to be the priority over other position groups, particularly with the need for immediate and impact starters.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. warns them not to wait too long. Not long at all. In fact, maybe not even past their No. 14-overall pick.

[MORE: 2014 Bears outlook -- Defensive line]

“I don’t think the defensive line is really something you can really wait on,” Kiper said. “There’s not a lot of depth at end or tackle. There is more depth in the secondary, that you can get guys down the line, especially at corner.”

“If you look at the Bears’ needs, I would take the defensive lineman early and wait on those other positions just a bit. The defensive line both at end and tackle is just not that deep.”

[RELATED: Where do the Bears rank in the NFC North heading into 2014?]

The Bears hit with Melton (2009) and Corey Wootton (2010) in fourth rounds. But they scored much bigger with Tommie Harris (2004) in a first round and that is Kiper’s suggestion for them this year.

“I look at defensive tackle and Timmy Jernigan from Florida State, if he were to be there, would be a heck of a pick at that point,” Kiper said. “Louis Nix III from Notre Dame would be the other defensive tackle. He fits a 3-4 scheme.

“Certainly Jernigan would be an ideal fit there.”

Scheme and flexibility figure as considerations. If they are inclined toward a version of their current one-gap system, based more on speed, Jernigan is listed at 6.2, 298 pounds, a prototype three-technique.

But to fortify the interior against the run, possibly with a two-gap approach and needing a bedrock stopper to hold the point inside, Nix is 6-2, 342 pounds.