Bears general manager Phil Emery has made it clear that he is “open for business” on the matter of trading out of No. 20 in the first round of the NFL draft starting in two weeks. His preferred direction is to move down and add a pick or two to the five the Bears have this year.
The Bears already have gotten inquiries around their No. 20 position, although nothing anticipated to be serious until just before or during the draft.
But the Bears also have contingency plans that could have them in fact trading up if the situation and player present themselves.
Last year the Bears approached the draft with a cluster of seven players they graded as selections worth the 19th-overall pick. The Bears were intent on upgrading their pass rush, so the group was heavy in that area. When pass rushers Bruce Irvin (Seattle, 15th) and Melvin Ingram (San Diego, 18th) were gone, Shea McClellin was the choice.
This year the Bears have addressed most critical needs at least for 2013 (offensive line, tight end, linebacker). Consequently Emery already is fashioning a multi-tiered strategy:
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Despite the wish to trade down to add picks, Emery’s staff will have two or three players – presumably including guards Jonathan Cooper from North Carolina and Chance Warmack from Alabama – deemed worth dealing up for if they fall within trade range.
The biggest group in Emery’s plan is the one based on needing to make the 20th pick. No team can dictate a trade down or up; it takes a partner and one that has targets with intervening teams accounted for such that a move is needed.
This group for 2013 may be 5-6 players.
With those graded players established on the board, the Bears also need a plan for what players they would consider excellent picks at, for example, No. 30-32. The San Francisco 49ers are at 31 and have a baker’s dozen of picks. They have been in touch with multiple teams.
The decision Emery could face is whether the Bears can trade back 11 picks, assuming a 49ers deal, and still get a difference maker. A drop that far could put the Bears out of range of the combined players in their first two groups but would not necessarily preclude a starter-grade player at 31.
Last year’s 31st pick was Boise State running back Doug Martin, who gave Tampa Bay 1,454 rushing yards and was third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage. The Bears found tight end Greg Olsen at No. 31 in 2007.
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At some point the Bears also can be expected to draft a quarterback, something that did not happen last year but would now address a donut hole in the depth chart between starter Jay Cutler and veteran backup Josh McCown.
"I would like to draft a quarterback every year," Emery said. The Bears drafted quarterbacks in 2010 (Dan LeFevour, 6th round) and 2011 (Nathan Enderle, 5th) despite having Cutler and Caleb Hanie in place.
There is a second intriguing angle to that quarterback situation. The Bears are not projected to take any of the available quarterbacks in the first round. But with offensive linemen in particular expected to dominate the early first round usually the realm of quarterback, a scramble could happen in the range of the Bears’ No. 20 pick as teams suddenly scramble to move up to grab quarterbacks not generally considered first-round material.
That portends a pick or picks coming the Bears’ way.
“I’m hoping [a QB run] does [happen],” Emery said. “That would provide us value. If somebody’s really coming at 20 for a quarterback, they’re going to be willing to bring some picks to the party. So that’s a good thing.”