First Round Draft Options for the Chicago Bears
As the draft creeps up, the Chicago Bears find themselves in a unique position.
The Bears have the seventh pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and what will be available at that pick is anything but clear. Will there be a number of trades taking both quarterbacks off the board? Will Tennessee stay where they are and take one of the elite defensive tackles or outside linebackers? Will the Raiders look to build their defense, or look to acquire Derek Carr a another elite target? With all these questions, who should the Bears be ready to draft at seven?
Over the last two years, there has been nothing but optimism regarding the Bears passing offense, particular with the dynamic duo of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery. Fast forward to 2015, and the high tempo passing offense of Marc Trestman has moved on to Baltimore and half of the dynamic duo, Marshall, has gone east to New York. Of course, Bears fans saw potential in Marquess Wilson, believing he might be Johnny Knox in the rough, and a real steal considering his 7th round selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, after being sidelined by injury and then underwhelming during his 3-game opportunity starting opposite Jeffery (only totaling 100 yards in 3 games), its become clear that Wilson may not be the answer going forward. So the Bears went and got Eddie Royal in free agency, which is a nice potential stop gap solution with upside, but with a relatively high draft pick, thinking about replenishing wide receiver depth and perhaps finding the next Alshon Jeffery might make sense. So is it any surprise that two of draft choices that the Bears should consider first are wide receivers?
1) Amari Cooper – Wide Receiver
It pains me to say this, since I’m not an Alabama fan at all ever since they completely destroyed the Irish in 2012, but Amari Cooper is the best wide receiver in the draft, and potentially can be a top 5 receiver in the NFL.
Cooper spent three years at Alabama, and even after battling through foot and toe injuries ended being one of the most prolific wide receivers in Alabama history. He led the nation in receptions (124) and finished second in yards (1,727) and touchdowns (16), ultimately leading to being a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.
At 6′ 1″ and with a solid 40 speed of 4.42 seconds, Cooper is neither the tallest or fastest receiver in the draft. But Cooper runs crisp routes and there is essentially no one better at running the post. He’s also not afraid to go across the middle and, thus, can be a solid wide receiver either in the slot or outside. With that type of consistency and versatility, it’s no wonder most NFL pundits consider Cooper the number one wide receiver in the draft. If he somehow falls to Chicago, he’d be a steal.
2) Kevin White – Wide Receiver
Want to talk about raw numbers? How about 6′ 3″ with Combine wide receiver best 4.35 second 40-yard dash and 23 reps on bench press? Yeah, Kevin white is tall, strong and fast. And I mean blazing fast. Want to take the top off the opposing defense? This is your man. As long as he runs a good route and you have a quarterback with a big enough arm, very few cornerbacks or free safeties will be able to keep this guy in check. The problem is “if he runs a good route.”
He just didn’t run a large variety of routes at West Virginia. And he didn’t fair well against press coverage. Of course, running better, crisper routes, like Cooper for instance, could solve that problem. And White can definitely learn to do that in the NFL. As Bryan Fischer of NFL.com said:
— NFL (@nfl) April 17, 2015
White is definitely a bigger risk than Cooper, but his ceiling is potentially higher. And the Bears will get a closer look at him in person prior to the draft:
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) April 10, 2015
3) Shane Ray – Defensive End
Clearly, the other big need for the Bears is defense. It’s been awhile since the Bears have had a dangerous pass rush that can really put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. As a result, in 2014, the Bears defense was third to last in completion percentage allowed to opposing quarterbacks (66.8%) and passing yards allowed (4230).
There may be other better known defensive options in the draft, including Leonard Williams, Dante Fowler and Vic Beasley, but Shane Ray is no slouch. Don’t take my word for it, check out these highlights:
There are some questions regarding his length and his ability to get off blocks if he doesn’t beat them off the snap, but Ray can be a really disruptive force for any defense he goes to. And although he couldn’t make the Combine due to a minor injury, his performance at his Pro Day (including 40 yard dash times of 4.64 and 4.65 seconds) allayed most fears regarding his raw physical skills. For a sagging Bears defense, sounds like just what the doctor ordered.
UPDATE: Shane Ray arrested for marijuana possession. This will make him slip in the draft for sure.
— Brandon Kiley (@BKSportsTalk) April 27, 2015
There are plenty of other options out there. And who knows, with all the uncertainty regarding where Mariota will go, and the apparent interest from the Bears, perhaps the Bears will find a way to select him instead.
One thing is for sure, though. This draft is going to be one of the most interesting top 10 picks in recent history, and for better or worse, the Bears will be a part of that.