Chicago Bears Mock Draft: 7-Round Predictions, Post-Combine
The 2014 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone and with that we have a better idea of what players the Chicago Bears may be looking at in the draft.
The first tidbit of information came before workouts at the combine began as both coach Marc Trestman and general manager Phil Emery met with the media and gave some insight on what they're looking for.
Emery confirmed that the Bears would be "predominantly" a one-gap defense playing a 4-3. He also noted that they would have flexibility with what they do and will play multiple fronts.
In his history as the Bears GM, Emery has tended to take athletic players and there's no reason to think that will change this year.
“When we swing, we’re going to swing on the high side of athleticism,” Emery said last week (per ChicagoBears.com)
He also spoke of wanting defensive ends a little stouter and longer than former first-round pick Shea McClellin, wanting players with versatility and preferring physical cornerbacks.
There were a number of players who had great showings at the combine and some who simply didn't come close to what was expected.
As usual, Emery is expected to be aggressive in free agency but we have no idea what direction they'll go in when that time comes. It seems likely that they'll sign at least one defensive lineman and a safety, but they have a lot of options with the unrestricted free-agent market.
As of now, the Bears have a dreadful defense and need help in all areas. It starts upfront, however, and that's where this mock draft begins.
All combine information courtesy of NFL.com's Results Tracker
1st Round (14th Overall): Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota
When deciding on the Bears first-round pick, I went through the criteria general manager Phil Emery highlighted before the draft and ended up with Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman.
For starters, Hageman is a physical freak. Out of defensive linemen at the combine who weighed over 300 pounds, Hageman had the highest vertical, the best 40-yard dash time, the second-best broad jump and the fifth-best time in the three-cone drill, with the four prospects ahead of him all being at least three inches shorter.
He also did 32 bench press reps, tying for third overall with the three other players, all of whom have significantly shorter arms.
A physical freak anyway you want to cut it.
In theory, Hageman could play three positions along the defensive line, giving him the flexibility Emery desires. At the very least, he should be able to hold his ground in the run game, but he has the potential to be an all-around dominant player.
The lack of production is a major cause for concern.
Part of the reason could be a lack of experience playing defensive line. He came to Minnesota as a tight end and didn't switch over until after his freshman season.
There's no arguing his production and play wouldn't warrant this high of a draft pick, but his talent would have him going much higher.
Another strong possibility is Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy, but it seems Hageman may have a higher ceiling (though a lower floor). Neither of the top safeties were overly impressive at the combine as both ran significantly slower 40 times than anticipated.
I also think the other freak defensive tackle—University of Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald—will be gone by the time the Bears are on the clock.
One of the most popular players slated to the Bears—Timmy Jernigan—tested OK at the combine, but he has even shorter arms than Sharrif Floyd. Floyd was supposed to be a top-five pick last season and dropped to 23 due to his arm length. The Bears were among the teams to pass on him, just as they'd likely pass on Jernigan.
2nd Round (51st Overall):
Kareem Martin, DE, North Carolina
A physical freak who was dominant last season may not last this long in the draft, but were he to fall that far, Martin could be an ideal pick for Phil Emery in the second round.
Martin was solid in his sophomore and junior seasons, showing improvement every year. He had four sacks both of those years, but his tackles for loss doubled. He broke out as a senior with 11 sacks, 21.5 tackles for loss and 82 total tackles.
Although it went mostly unrecognized, he also put on a show at the combine earlier this week. He checked in at 6'6" and 272 pounds with the longest arms in the draft at 35 inches. He had the best broad jump of all the defensive linemen—a full five inches better than Jadaveon Clowney—and registered a 35.5-inch vertical. Both of those drills measure explosiveness.
His 40-yard dash time of 4.72 seconds was very good for a player his size and his 10-yard split was actually better than Clowney's, according to Football's Future. For good measure, he added the seventh-fastest time in the three-cone drill.
So, how could he drop this far?
In the above video, you see Bleacher Report's Matt Miller question his athleticism. Miller's evaluation was filmed before the combine, but it is a clear indication that Martin doesn't play as fast as he tests. I spoke to a couple scouts (via twitter) and they agreed with that assessment.
The athleticism is clearly there, the Bears just have to figure out how to get it to translate to the football field. This is why they brought in veteran coach Paul Pasqualoni.
My guess is that his performance at the combine will make scouts take another look at him. For now, I have him in the second round, but he's a sleeper to watch for the Bears in the first.
Round 3 (82nd Overall):
Marqueston Huff, DB, Wyoming
Sticking with the theme of athletic and versatile, the Bears can get a player who can play either cornerback or safety in Huff.
At 5'11", 196 pounds, Huff played safety in his senior year at Wyoming, but could be a cornerback in the NFL. He showed cornerback skills at the Senior Bowl, and at the combine he displayed the athletic ability to play either position.
Huff tested in the top 10 amongst all safeties in every event in Indianapolis.
He's coming off of a senior season in which he had 127 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions.
As the Bears rebuild their defense, they need players who can play multiple positions. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither will be the Bears defense. The more versatility the players they draft have, the easier it will be to build around them.
Round 4: (117th Overall):
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
Not a need, but if Fiedorowicz is there in the fourth round, it would be a great pickup for the Bears.
The Iowa product tested out better than many thought he would with the best performance amongst tight ends in both the three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.76 seconds and put up 25 reps in the bench press.
Fiedorowicz would give the Bears another red-zone threat and a legitimate second tight end for what could be a dangerous Ace package (two tight ends, two receivers, one running back). He'd also provide some insurance in case anything were to happen to Martellus Bennett.
The Bears were lucky not to have any major injuries to their skill position players last year, they shouldn't take that chance again if they don't have to.
Round 5 (144th Overall):
Brock Vereen, S, Minnesota
Not a household name at all, but Vereen showed nearly ideal physical traits at the combine.
At 6'0" and 199 pounds, Vereen had the second-fastest 40-yard dash time, three-cone drill time and 20-yard shuttle and he ranked in the top 10 in nearly every event. He also did 25 bench press reps as he showed the ability to play in the box at Minnesota.
The general knock on him is a lack of takeaways. Despite his athletic ability, he had just four interceptions in his career. He deflected 24 passes over the last three years, but teams would have liked to see more of those passes intercepted.
Despite that, he could still be a good find for the Bears in the fifth round if Emery deems Vereen to be a DB who plays smart, a trait that was lacking in the back end of Chicago's defense last season.
Round 6 (167th Overall):
Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse
Bromley seems to have the physical ability to play in the NFL and was productive last season, but he is projected to drop in the draft.
Despite the production and physical abilities, scouts don't seem to be very high on him as most have him projected to be a late-round pick. CBS Sports Dane Brugler noted inconsistencies in his play this season as he has issues with leverage, hand usage and overall awareness.
The upside is that Bromley can develop into a solid starting defensive tackle. At the very least he should give the Bears some more depth at that position as a rookie.
Round 6 (175th Overall):
Jerick McKinnon, RB, Georgia Southern
McKinnon had a lot of people looking up his name after his performance at the combine, and he has a real chance of making an impact in the NFL.
The Georgia Southern product was in the top four in every event he competed in at the combine, showing a rare mixture of strength, speed and explosiveness.
He was a quarterback at Georgia Southern up until this season, and even then he wasn't used as a conventional running back. He took a lot of pitches and handoffs on misdirection plays, but he was always a threat to score.
While he played against mostly subpar competition, he proved he can play with the big boys against Florida last November, running for 125 yards and a touchdown on just nine carries.
He probably won't be able to play running back full time for at least a season, but he could be used as a weapon in select packages. His biggest impact could come as a kick returner, as the Bears likely will look to replace Devin Hester should the all-time great return man leave via free agency.