INDIANAPOLIS The stock prediction for what the Bears will do with their first-round draft pick in April has been wide receiver. They have a shortage of good ones and uncertainty over the future of Johnny Knox after his gruesome back injury.
But at least one NFL insider has a strong leaning toward the other side of the football and coach Lovie Smith is saying nothing that contradicts this.
Matt Bowen, longtime NFL safety and National Football Post columnist, talked with CSNChicago.com Thursday at the Scouting Combine. Matt heard comments by Smith earlier Thursday and believes the Bears will go for a defensive end with their first pick, with Alabama rush terror Courtney Upshaw the first name he mentioned.
Pro Football Weekly reports that 38 percent of Upshaws tackles were made behind the line of scrimmage.
A big reason for his conclusion, which I second, is Smiths re-statement, in the wake of the New York Giants Super Bowl win, that defense still wins championships.
I'm totally convinced of that, Smith said. In order to win, of course, it's a biased opinion. I think the Giants have a strong defense, they have a running game and you need to be able to have explosion in your passing game, I think that's a big part of it.
The Giants won with a 4-3 scheme similar to the Bears but based on as many as four defensive ends used in nickel situations, all proven pass rushers.
A top-shelf wide receiver in free agency followed by a pass-rushing defensive end on day one of the draft.
The key is Smith and GM Phil Emery being of like mind on personnel priorities, which they presumably are based on conversations during the GM hiring process. Its pretty unlikely Smith was voicing a philosophy from what he knows to be his GMs.