The need areas on the Bears’ defense have been amply identified, by opponents last season and by offseason efforts this year. The trick will lie both in how the draft unfolds and also by what makes sense as far as what to pick when.
NFL Network analysts Charles Davis and Daniel Jeremiah agreed on a conference call Thursday that safety and defensive tackle stood as the two top need areas. The Bears currently stand at No. 14 in the first round and No. 55 overall with their second-round pick.
Because there are fewer elite safeties than defensive tackles, the early thought is that safety should be the Bears’ first choice, partly for reasons of numbers.
“When you look at the Bears, I start at the safety position,” Jeremiah said. “Where they’re picking I think they’ll have a shot at one of those top two guys: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama, Calvin Pryor from Louisville.
“Dix may be a little more attractive to them just as a playmaker, an over-the-top kind of playmaker, a little more range than Pryor.”
The prevailing thinking is that Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan and Pittburgh’s Aaron Donald stand as the two fits at No. 14. Jernigan is bigger, Donald the better inside pass rusher.
Among Dix, Pryor, Donald and Jernigan, any “one of those four players would be a good pick,” Jeremiah said.
The Bears have gotten starter-grade safeties in second rounds – Tony Parrish, Mike Brown, Danieal Manning – but defensive tackles can be more difficult to find. Stephen Paea and Tank Johnson were 2’s but neither was a standout, for different reasons.
“I think you’ve got to go safety first if one of those top two safeties is there,” Davis said. “Then you come back and get a defensive tackle at No. 55. I think the depth is better on the interior defensive linemen than it is throughout the safety class.”