Ever since the 2012 NFL season ended, fans and analysts have been waiting for the draft.
The first round takes place on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, while second and third rounds take place Friday. Rounds 4-7 will happen on Saturday.
This is the first draft for new Bears general manager Phil Emery. By looking at his frame of work with free agency, it seems like he isn’t afraid to fill the holes this Bears team has.
Defensive line is the biggest area of need for this Bears team right now. Some fans and analysts might say its offensive tackle or wide receiver.
They might be right, but the Bears need to get pressure on elite NFC North quarterbacks Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford.
Julius Peppers has been as steady as they come since signing with the Bears two seasons ago. He recorded 11.0 sacks last season, but needs a speedy complement opposite of him.
Julius Peppers, Henry Melton, Matt Toeaina and Israel Idonije are the likely starters along the defensive line at this point.
Second-round pick DT Stephen Paea and undrafted free agent Jordan Miller are the only two defensive tackles behind Melton and Toeaina at this point.
Corey Wootton, Chauncey Davis and Thaddeus Gibson are the depth at defensive end at this point.
The Bears need some speed rushers off the edge and from the inside. With the loss of Amobi Okoye to the Bucs and the release of veteran Anthony Adams, the Bears need some depth at defensive tackle.
J’Marcus Webb is being praised as improving towards the end of last season by Bears coaches. With the return of Gabe Carimi and Chris Williams to the lineup it will only help.
Mike Tice taking over as the offensive coordinator will likely make the line look better, since he can cover it up with certain protection schemes. But Bears fans want an improvement on the line, especially at QB Jay Cutler’s blindside, left tackle.
It makes sense, where they’re coming from, but getting pressure on quarterbacks consistently with a solid defensive end will improve this team’s Super Bowl chances tremendously.
Just look at the NY Giants of last year. They were so deep along the defensive line with Justin Tuck, Osi Umeniyora and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Getting pressure on quarterbacks is key in the Bears defensive scheme.
Look for them to add a wide receiver, safety and linebacker to the mix later in the draft. Don’t be surprised if they add a tight end or cornerback as well.
Chicago Bears needs: DE, DT, OT, WR, S, CB
First Round (19th pick)-Whitney Mercilus, DE, University of Illinois
The draft is filled with good defensive ends and defensive tackles. The Bears might decide to go with North Carolina DE Quinton Coples, but Mercilus will most likely be available at the 19th spot in the first round.
Mercilus is not as big current Bears defensive ends Julius Peppers or Israel Idonije, but at 6’4″, 254 lbs he has the potential to be this years Jason Pierre-Paul.
He led the nation last college football season with 16.0 sacks and nine forced fumbles. The big knock on him is the fact that he only had two sacks heading into his junior season.
He sees to be a high risk/high reward selection at this point. But he would fit nicely in the Bears defensive scheme alongside Julius Peppers and Co.
Analysis: If a defensive end like Coples or Mercilus isn’t available by the time the Bears make their selection they could look towards an offensive or defensive tackle. I don’t think the Bears would pass up an opportunity on selecting Coples, but there is a small chance he would be available.
Second Round (50th pick)-Alshon Jeffrey, WR, University of South Carolina
The Bears would be dumb to pass up on Jeffrey, if he was still available at the 50th pick in the second round. Jefrrey standing at 6’3″ and weighing 215 lbs has the ability to be one of the best receivers out of this deep receiver draft class.
He racked up 183 catches, 3,042 yards and 23 touchdowns in three years at the college level. He led his team in receptions (49) as a true freshman. He caught 88 passes for 1,500 yards and nine touchdowns in his sophomore season, but caught only 46 balls for 763 yards and six touchdowns this past season.
The drop off in production from sophomore year to junior year had a lot to do with Jeffrey playing around 235-240 lbs. The bigger weight slowed Jeffrey down.
He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at his pro day and he has the ability to win any jump ball situation. Jeffrey would look great next to Brandon Marshall and Earl Bennett and I’m sure Jay Cutler would be very excited about the selection.
Analysis: Wide receiver isn’t that big of a need since the Bears acquired Pro Bowl WR Brandon Marshall, but this draft filled with so many solid receivers. If Jeffrey is indeed available at #50, the Bears would be making a big mistake by not selecting him. DT, OT and LB could be areas where the Bears look as well with this pick.
Third Round (79th pick)-Jamell Fleming, CB, University of Oklahoma
Fleming is ranked as the 7th best cornerback in the draft by NFLDraftscout.com. The 5’11″, 206 lb corner ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.
With Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings the likely starters heading into 2012, Fleming would be used mainly on special teams. Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite were signed this off-season for depth at cornerback.
Fleming seems to have natural coverage skills compared to strength and size. He made 168 tackles, seven interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and a sack during his time at Oklahoma.
Analysis: This would be a solid move by the Bears considering their current starting cornerbacks aren’t getting any younger. Fleming could be groomed by Tillman to be the next starting cornerback in the cover-2 scheme.
Fourth Round (111th pick)-Senio Kelemete, OT/OG, University of Washington
Kelemete is a 6’3″, 307 lb offensive lineman, who could be a solid addition to an NFL offensive line. He started his college career as a defensive tackle, but switched over to the offensive line as a tackle.
He started all 13 games last season for the Huskies as the left tackle, but many analysts say he might be a better fit as a guard in the NFL. He has good balance, power and quick feet according to Rob Rang of NFLDraftscout.com.
The Bears would be wise to add someone with his versatility in the fourth round of the draft.
Analysis: Kelemete could come in and compete for any of the five offensive line positions. He brings experience and solid play into the NFL. Safety, defensive tackle and linebacker could all be areas looked in this round as well.
Fifth Round (150th pick)-Tank Carder, ILB, Texas Christian University
A three-year starter at TCU, the 6’2″, 236″ Carder made 228 tackles, 5.5 sacks, four interceptions, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery during his time as a Horned Frog.
He’s ranked as the sixth best linebacker by NFLDraftscout.com. He could be next middle linebacker following the end of Brian Urlacher’s career.
The Bears definitely want to add some young potential to their linebacking core and Carder could do just that.
Analysis: It wouldn’t be a shock to see the Bears a linebacker sooner than the fifth round, but Carder is a great value pick at #150. Safety, tight end and defensive tackle could be looked at here as well.
Sixth Round (184th pick)-DaJohn Harris, DT, University of Southern Californ
Harris is a 6’3″, 306 lb defensive tackle, who could add some solid depth along the defensive line in Chicago.
He made 72 tackles in four seasons, starting along at defensive tackle during his junior and senior seasons. He also made 6.0 sacks , one interception and one forced fumble during his time at USC.
He was medically excluded from the NFL Combine due to a heart defect known as a PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale). The condition had a lot to do with him falling so far in draft boards. His personal cardiologist emailed all 32 NFL teams telling them that he was medically safe to play.
Analysis: The Bears need depth at the defensive tackle, they shouldn’t be hesitant to add a player like Harris, who showed solid play at USC. Tight end and safety are other positions the Bears could look at with this pick.
Seventh Round (220th pick)-Blake Gideon, FS, University of Texas
The Bears need some depth at safety considering Major Wright, Chris Conte and Craig Steltz are the only three safeties signed.
The 6’1″, 205 lb Gideon ran a 4.60 40-yard dash at his pro day. He made 52 starts, racking up 276 tackles, 10 interceptions, 2.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in four seasons at UT.
He would add some solid depth to the unit and could come in and perform on special teams.
Analysis: The Bears could choose to add a safety earlier in the draft, but Gideon could be a solid add in the seventh round. Tight end, defensive tackle and defensive end could also be positions the Bears look at with this pick.
Bears Backer Pre Draft Q & A With Texas S Blake Gideon
Jake Perper is the owner and head writer for Bearsbacker.com. Follow him on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Bears.