The first round of the 2013 draft starts at 7 p.m. CT and not long after that, one of the standard three scenarios will play out for the Bears, each bringing a different player to Chicago:
The focus of the offseason was finding starters (Jermon Bushrod, Martellus Bennett, Matt Slauson) for a bankrupt offense. Defense is the priority now.
But a chance exists for the Bears to assemble one of the best lines of their last decade. The offseason additions of Bushrod and Slauson, plus the shift of J’Marcus Webb to right tackle, with veteran center Roberto Garza, have turned a liability into arguably a strength.
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General manager Phil Emery said that the Bears would go into the draft with a very small group of players for which the Bears would trade up. Only an elite player fitting a key need warrants that sort of move, and only one of a tiny group of offensive linemen fit that narrow requirement. If none of these are available, the Bears don’t pick up the phone.
Pick(s): G Jonathan Cooper/G Chance Warmack/T D.J. Fluker
Stay at No. 20
Emery addressed defense with two of his first three picks in 2012 (Shea McClellin, Brandon Hardin). But the additions of D.J. Williams and James Anderson to replace Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach were not in the multi-year template of Bennett and Bushrod on the offense.
Chances of Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers and Charles Tillman being back past 2013 are slim at best, given the ages and finances involved. The Bears would like to trade out of this spot but Emery has a core group of players he and the Bears are prepared to draft if they can’t.
Because of where the Bears sit, they are not in real control of what the 19 picks above them leave on the table. But two players at one primary position project to be Bear by nightfall on Thursday:
Pick(s): CB Desmond Trufant/CB Xavier Rhodes
Several weeks ago CSNBayArea.com 49ers insider Matt Maiocco and I pegged San Francisco (No. 31) with its bakers-dozen of picks as the team to watch for the Bears. The 49ers have five of the first 93 picks and nowhere near the needs or roster space to use 13 draft choices. I had also referenced the Houston Texans (No. 27) where ownership has gotten involved by lobbying for a speed receiver to share the load with Andre Johnson. And the Atlanta Falcons (No. 30) are on record as one of the few teams looking up instead of down.
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The depth of the draft class is such that the Bears can deal down and still land a day one starter. They brought in Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown but they also attended the pro day for and had a private visit with Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o.
Emery and the Bears thought enough of his on-field work to do that extent of in-depth evaluation. That is unlikely if they were scared off by the Alabama national championship game, and “I found Manti to be a very good person, a very squared away guy,” Emery said. “I certainly enjoyed the meeting.” Like his play, like his persona, therefore:
Pick: LB Manti Te’o