Chicago Bears: 2014 NFL Draft

The NFL draft wrapped up just five days ago, but on Thursday, Chicago became the first team in the NFL to reach agreements with its entire 2014 draft class.

The Bears announced that third-round pick Will Sutton agreed to terms Thursday on a four-year contract.

Financial details weren't immediately disclosed.

Sutton was the second of consecutive defensive tackles taken by the Bears in the second and third rounds of the NFL draft. The last time the Bears took defensive tackles back-to-back in early rounds was 2004, when the club drafted Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson.

A two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year, Sutton was a three-year starter at Arizona State, where he generated 45.5 tackles for loss to go with 20.5 sacks, including 13 in 2012 as a junior. Sutton's production dipped in 2013, but he contributed 48 tackles, four sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss.

With Sutton agreeing to terms, the Bears have reached deals with their entire eight-man draft class. The Bears agreed to terms Wednesday with their first-round pick, CB Kyle Fuller, on a four-year contract with a fifth-year option.

On Tuesday, the club signed defensive tackle Ego Ferguson, running back Ka'Deem Carey, punter Pat O'Donnell and offensive tackle Charles Leno Jr. On Monday, the club agreed to terms with safety Brock Vereen and quarterback David Fales.

The team kicks off a three-day rookie minicamp Friday at Halas Hall.
Once the NFL draft comes to a close, it’s always interesting and fun to go back through all the notes and interviews cobbled throughout the pre-draft process.

The college prospects come in and out, whether at the Senior Bowl or NFL combine, and you just never know whether the player you’re interviewing will be later drafted by the team you cover. Here’s a transcript of a group interview with Chicago Bears fourth-round pick Ka'Deem Carey from February's combine:

[+] EnlargeKaDeem Carey
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesKa'Deem Carey will have the opportunity to step into the No. 2 running back role for the Bears in 2014.
Question: What back playing would you compare yourself to nowadays?
Answer: "Oh, you're going to hit me with the nowadays. I'd say a mix between Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy. Adrian Peterson runs hard and LeSean McCoy has the shakes in the open field to break a safety down. My (favorite) running back is Brian Westbrook because he catches, he blocks. He does it all."

Q: How much better of a receiver are you now having played for Rich Rodriguez at Arizona?
A: "I'm definitely a lot better receiver than what I came to college as. I felt like Rich Rod coming into the program definitely benefited me because playing under coach [Mike] Stoops, I would have had a couple catches. But he (Rodriguez) loved to spread it around, put me in the slot. I'm really comfortable with that and excited about it."

Q: How do you feel about the trend of teams not valuing running backs as much as they did in the past?
A: "I don't like that. Definitely, I feel like they think the running back spot is going extinct for some reason. They definitely need us. I'm definitely going to make sure they know that when I step on the field that they made a good pick and running backs aren't going extinct."

Q: Would you have changed positions if you knew later down the road we’d be seeing this trend with running backs?
A: "Tell me about it. Nowadays, they're like you've got to go second, third round. I'm like, 'Why in the hell didn't you tell me this a couple of years ago, that running backs are going extinct?' I'm definitely OK with it. I'm just trying to bring back and to show we're definitely valuable. But I definitely would have went to corner or something. Shoot."

Q: Were you surprised you didn't receive more consideration for the Heisman Trophy? It seemed no one was paying attention to you much of the season.
A: "I think it's East Coast bias. I'm sorry everybody. You guys are sleeping on us. You guys are asleep at the time we're playing, and I don't blame you, I'd be asleep too. I like to get my sleep."

Q: What if you are drafted by a place that has cold weather like Cleveland?
A: "Being born and raised in Arizona, and our weather is always sunny and nice. It's always hot. Playing somewhere like Cleveland would be interesting and fun; definitely will test out my game and my talents. I feel comfortable. I played in Washington in some rain and that's the first time ever I played in rain. I had a good game and I was excited to be there. It just motivated me more."

Q: Did people advise you to leave school early?
A: "They definitely were in my ear, saying you have a limited numbers of hits and running backs, you need to go while you have the chance. I know that I could have come back and played another year, got bigger and stronger and dominated at that level. But my decision was I was ready for the league. I felt like I was ready a year ago but I just couldn't leave. I stayed consistent this year, and really proved to me that I was ready to provide for my family."

Q: What are the scouts going to find out about you as a pass blocker?
A: "They are going to find an aggressive, hard-nosed [player] that will hit you right under your chin. I'm going to tell you right now, I need more technique in pass blocking. I have no problem with picking up the blitz and delivering the hit."

Q: What would you need to run in the 40 to answer questions about your speed?
A: "A 4.5 would be just solid, knowing that I've got that getaway speed and the film speaks for the rest. They feel comfortable with the way I play. They just want to know if I can get away from that last defender and actually bring the 6 points home." [Carey ran a 4.7 official 40-yard dash at the combine.]

Q: How has the combine experience been for you?
A: "I'm enjoying this. I get to speak to the coaches. They get to see my personality. Being from the West, they don't know too much about me, so this is a great opportunity for me to get here and get comfortable and be myself and they can see who I am."

Q: Is there a particular coach you are looking forward to meeting?
A: "Definitely coach Andy Reid. He is the best coach ever. Once I get to see him, shake his hand, and sit in a meeting with him, everything is going to be all gravy. I was a big Eagles fan growing up. I loved the way he did everything with Brian Westbrook. I just love the way he coaches."

Q: What’s the best advice you've received and who gave it to you?
A: "Just walk around with a big smile. Be happy about each day because it can be taken away tomorrow. That was just by mom. So I walk around with a big smile every day. This is a blessing."

Q: Where do you get your confidence?
A: "Maybe classes that I had to take at the University of Arizona. Little classes, we'd get in a little circle, like therapy or something. We'll just talk about our life. That's where I got really confident in being myself."

Q: What were your favorite classes?
A: "The ones that I was just talking about. Just getting to know everybody in class, where they are coming from, and their life story. It's helped me become the person I am. You really can't judge everybody. And there's not too much to do in Tucson. I run, I hike. I walk my dogs. I like to get out and play two-hand touch football. Coach Rich Rod didn't like that. But I had to keep it on the low. I can say it now because I'm away from him.'

Q: What kind of dogs you have?
A: "A Maltese Yorkie, and then I have two pit bulls."
The Chicago Bears agreed to terms Monday with safety Brock Vereen and quarterback David Fales on four-year contracts, the team announced.

A fourth-round pick, Vereen started 36 of 47 games over four seasons at Minnesota, producing 200 tackles, four interceptions and 22 pass breakups. Vereen earned first team All-Big Ten honors as a senior after starting 11 games at free safety and two at cornerback; he contributed 59 tackles, an interception and six pass breakups.

Vereen started 18 games at cornerback, seven at strong safety and 11 at free safety during his career at Minnesota.

The Bears selected Fales in the sixth round out of San Jose State, where he started 25 games for the Spartans over the last two seasons. Fales completed 68.1 percent of his passes for 66 touchdowns and 22 interceptions.

Fales is one of two quarterbacks in FBS (with Fresno State's Derek Carr) to pass for more than 4,000 yards in each of the past two seasons.

Fales and Vereen became the first members of Chicago's 2014 draft class to agree to deals. The Bears are the first team in the NFL thus far to announce deals for draft picks, but the club still needs to sign six more players from the class.
The Chicago Bears agreed to terms on Sunday with nine undrafted rookie free agents.

Here’s the list:

RB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

DT Brandon Dunn, Louisville

OG Ryan Groy, Wisconsin

OG James Dunbar, Texas Christian

LB Tana Patrick, Alabama

LB Christian Jones, Florida State

DT Lee Pegues, East Carolina

OT Cody Booth, Temple

LB Devekeyan Lattimore, South Florida

Bears to sign NIU's Jordan Lynch

May, 10, 2014
May 10
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Undrafted former Northern Illinois quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch has agreed to sign a rookie free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears, according to his agent Cliff Brady.

Lynch, a graduate of Mt. Carmel High School, started two years for the Huskies and led the school to a 24-4 overall record. He finished his college career with 6,209 passing yards, 51 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. Lynch also rushed for 4,343 yards and 48 touchdowns.

He worked at multiple positions in front of scouts at the NFL combine.

The Bears decline to confirm stories about undrafted free agents until their contracts are officially signed.

Chicago Bears draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A wrap-up of the Chicago Bears’ draft. Click here for a full list of Bears' draftees.

Bears general manager Phil Emery likes to say a team can never expect to fill all of its needs via the draft. Well, eight draft choices later, the Bears actually came close.

Best move: Taking defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton with consecutive picks on Day 2. We don’t know if Ferguson or Sutton will pan out, but the Bears had to keep strengthening the defensive line after last season. Ferguson and Sutton join new faces Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Austen Lane, Trevor Scott and Israel Idonije, who is back for his second tour of duty. The Bears also re-signed tackles Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins to help fortify the trenches on defense.

[+] EnlargeKa'Deem Casey
Casey Sapio/USA TODAY SportsArizona running back Ka'Deem Carey, a fourth-round pick by the Bears, has some question marks in terms of off-the-field incidents.
This reminds me of how Emery & Co. rebuilt the offensive line last offseason.

Riskiest move: Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey’s (fourth round) on-field production speaks for itself: 4,239 yards, 48 rushing touchdowns and 77 receptions for 679 yards in three years for the Wildcats.

However, there are questions about Carey that extended beyond the football field. The 5-9, 207-pound tailback reportedly had multiple run-ins with the authorities, including a charge of assaulting his pregnant ex-girlfriend that was later dismissed.

Carey depicted himself as a high-character individual when he spoke to Chicago media members following his selection by the Bears at No. 117.

“As you guys are going to get to know me over the years; I’m an outgoing [person] who loves kids and is light-hearted,” Carey said. “I would never do anything to harm people. I’m a loveful cat.”

Emery is not afraid to draft or acquire players with questionable character. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall has rewarded Emery’s faith in him by posting consecutive Pro Bowl seasons. On the flip side, 2012 fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez lasted only one season before being cut after multiple run-ins with the law last offseason.

Most surprising move: Emery told reporters before the draft that he rejected the notion of drafting a developmental quarterback in the later rounds with the intent of grooming him to be a future starter.

The Bears selected San Jose State quarterback David Fales in the sixth round (183).

Go figure.

File it away: Time will tell if the Bears regret passing on a safety in the first round.

The organization continued its longstanding tradition of waiting until the later rounds to address the position when they moved back into the fourth round and traded away a pair of fifth-round selections to grab Minnesota’s Brock Vereen at 131. Vereen does have an excellent NFL pedigree. His brother, Shane, a standout running back, was selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Their father, Henry, was drafted by the Bucs in 1979.

Vereen is a versatile player who lined up at all four defensive back spots over the course of his career with the Golden Gophers. He started 36 games and registered 200 tackles, four interceptions, 7.5 tackles-for-loss and one blocked kick.

“Brock is one of the smartest and most versatile players I have ever had the privilege of coaching and is an outstanding young man,” Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said. “He is the ultimate team player and will do whatever is needed to help the Bears win. I know he is going to make Chicago a better team and will also be a great teammate in the locker room.”

But you can argue the Bears are in this mess at safety because the organization doesn't put a high enough value on the position.

Bears take Pat O'Donnell in 6th

May, 10, 2014
May 10
LAKE FOREST, Ill. – The pick: Pat O’Donnell, punter, Miami

My take: Even though the Bears have favored a more directional approach to the punt game, the Bears went for the strong legged O’Donnell, who averaged 47.1 yards per punt last year with 23 kicks of 50-plus yards.

O’Donnell has the reputation of aggressively covering his punts; he made three tackles and one forced fumble in his lone year at Miami after spending the bulk of his college career at the University of Cincinnati. O’Donnell actually participated in the agility tests at the NFL Combine where he ran a 4.64 40-yard dash and did 23 reps on the bench press at 225-pounds.

Between his time at Miami and Cincinnati, O’Donnell averaged 43.5 yards per punt and his 234 total punts for 10,168 yards rank third among the major college’s active players.

NFL teams don’t usually draft specialists. However, Bears special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis traveled to Miami to conduct a private workout with O’Donnell. DeCamillis came away from the meeting impressed. For the Bears to invest a 6th round draft choice, O’Donnell has to be considered the favorite to land the starting job. The Bears No. 1 punter spot has been open since Adam Podlesh’s release in March.

Uncharted territory: O’Donnell is the first punter drafted by the Bears since Todd Sauerbrun arrived in Chicago in 1995 in the second round. Sauerbrun is remembered for showing up to training camp as a rookie with “HANG TIME” vanity license plates, and for being one of the few punters to roll up the sleeves of his jersey. O’Donnell comes across as being more reserved.

What’s next: The Bears acquired a seventh-round pick (246) from the Denver Broncos to offset the loss of their original 7th rounder that went to Dallas in the Dante Rosario trade. Value can be found at this late stage. The Bears took wide receiver Marquess Wilson with their final choice last year, and the plan is for Wilson to be the team’s No. 3 wide receiver in 2014. Former starting offensive linemen J’Marcus Webb (2010) and Lance Louis (2009) were also plucked in the final round.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears used the first of their two sixth-round picks Saturday to add a developmental quarterback in San Jose State’s David Fales with the 183rd overall pick.

[+] EnlargeDavid Fales
Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY SportsDavid Fales is one of two NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks to throw for more than 4,000 during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
My take: Perhaps general manager Phil Emery threw up the smokescreen during a pre-draft press conference recently saying that based on a study he recently conducted, the developmental quarterback theory doesn’t “hold water.” Emery mentioned that if a team is looking to take a quarterback, it should do it in the first and second rounds. So Emery went against his own logic in selecting Fales, and for good reason: the quarterback is a talented player.

Fales lacks arm strength, but like former backup Josh McCown, he makes up for it with strong anticipation skills and football smarts.

Fales also possesses some mobility and the courage to stand in the pocket and deliver in heavy pressure. Another attribute that likely attracted the Bears to Fales is his reputation for being coachable and having a strong work ethic, which would make the pairing with head coach Marc Trestman ideal considering Fales is a developmental prospect.

Because of the Fales’ good-to-average arm, smarts and anticipation skills, scouts projected him to be a fit in more of a West Coast type of system, which is exactly what the Bears utilize under Trestman and offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer. Interestingly, Fales and Derek Carr, a second-round pick of the Oakland Raiders, are the only NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks to throw for more than 4,000 during the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Durability/productivity: The first quarterback drafted by the Bears since 2011, Fales started in all 45 games he played in during college, completing 65.9 percent of his passes for 12,727 yards, 101 touchdowns and 35 interceptions. Fales played just two seasons at San Jose State (played two years before at Monterey Peninsula College), but shares or owns 28 school, game, season or career records.

What’s next: Shortly after selecting Fales, the Bears drafted punter Pat O’Donnell with their second sixth-round pick. It’s likely the Bears close out the draft in the seventh round by scooping up a linebacker.

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears traded their fifth-round pick (156 overall) and a fifth in 2015 to the Denver Broncos to move up in the fourth round of Saturday’s NFL draft to select Minnesota safety Brock Vereen 131st overall.

[+] EnlargeVereen
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesBrock Vereen posted a 4.47-second 40-yard at the combine and repped 225 pounds 25 times.
My take: The acquisition of Vereen fills yet another pressing need for the Bears, who so far have used every draft pick to address holes in the roster. Because of Chicago’s heavy investment in the defensive line in free agency, the club signed lesser known players at the safety position in free agency in M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray and Ryan Mundy. Throw in the uncertainty brought about by Chris Conte’s recovery from shoulder surgery, and it was imperative the Bears addressed safety.

Sticking to the theme of versatility and athleticism, the Bears signed a prospect in Vereen, who has extensive experience as a cornerback. As a freshman at Minnesota, Vereen started four games at cornerback. Then as a sophomore, Vereen started all 12 games at cornerback, producing 67 tackles, seven pass breakups and a forced fumble.

Vereen transitioned to safety for his junior and senior seasons, but moved to corner for two starts in his final season. Vereen has also switched between strong safety (7 starts) and free safety (11 starts)

It’s unknown whether Vereen will seriously challenge for one of the club’s two starting jobs at safety, but he’ll certainly ramp up the competition there. Vereen posted gaudy numbers at the NFL Combine: 4.47-second 40-yard (second fastest among all safeties), 25 bench press repetitions of 225 pounds (tops among all safeties and corners). So in addition to the versatility and experience of playing every position in the secondary, Vereen possesses speed comparable to the game’s top corners with the strength reminiscent of a linebacker.

Athletic lineage: Chicago’s first-round pick, Kyle Fuller, has two brothers with NFL experience. So it’s interesting the Bears added another draft pick with NFL bloodlines. Vereen is the younger brother of New England Patriots running back Shane Vereen. The ties don’t stop there. Vereen’s mother, Venita, played tennis at UNLV, and his father, Henry, was a ninth-round selection in 1979 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

What’s next: Having filled most of their needs, the Bears might still look at bringing in a linebacker over the next three rounds.

Bears pick Ka'Deem Carey in 4th

May, 10, 2014
May 10
videoLAKE FOREST, Ill. – The pick: Ka’Deem Carey, running back, Arizona

My take: General manager Phil Emery said before the draft the Bears planned to add more competition at running back behind starter Matt Forte after the team released veteran Michael Bush in March. Carey rushed for 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns over the last two years at Arizona. His 1,885 yards on the ground last season ranked third nationally.

[+] EnlargeKa'Deem Carey
Crystal LoGiudice/USA TODAY SportsArizona's Ka'Deem Carey rushed for 3,814 yards and 42 touchdowns over the last two years at Arizona.
Tailbacks in Marc Trestman’s offense must have the ability to catch the football. Carey hauled in 26 passes for 173 yards and one touchdown in 2013.

Carey set the Pac-12 and Arizona single-game record with 366 rushing yards versus Colorado.

This appears to be a sold pick from a production standpoint.

Character concern: Carey reportedly had issues off-the-field in college. The running back was charged with disorderly conduct and assault for allegedly pushing his pregnant ex-girlfriend to the floor and slamming her hand in a door. The charges were eventually dropped. These are serious accusations.

Under Emery, the Bears have not been afraid to draft players with questionable character. The belief is that sufficient leadership and stability exists in the building to handle potential problem players.

Carey will be afforded every opportunity to prove he is not a clone of 2012 fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez, who the Bears released after his rookie year following multiple run-ins with the law. Rodriguez also had problems throughout his college career.

What’s next: Bears next pick is at No. 156 overall in the 5th round. The Bears are a prime example that quality players can be found on the third day of the draft. Chicago struck gold in the fifth round last year when they selected offensive tackle Jordan Mills out of Louisiana Tech. Mills went on to start all 16 games before breaking his foot in pregame warm-ups before the Bears’ Week 17 battle at Soldier Field.

Retired wide receiver Johnny Knox, New York Giants cornerback Zack Bowman and Buffalo Bills cornerback Corey Graham are also former fifth-round picks of the Bears who went on to have productive NFL careers.

The Bears could look to add a linebacker or safety with their next choice. Both remain areas of need.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Statistics can be deceiving.

The Chicago Bears clearly looked beyond LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson's modest career collegiate numbers (12 career starts, 85 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and one sack) when drafting him at No. 51 overall.

They obviously believe the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Ferguson will add fresh legs to an already decent rotation at defensive tackle that includes veterans Jeremiah Ratliff, Nate Collins and Stephen Paea. Because the Bears are so high on Ratliff at three-technique, general manager Phil Emery didn't have to necessarily find a Week 1 starting interior defensive lineman in the draft.

After Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman and Florida State's Timmy Jernigan were taken off the board, Ferguson was the next best option in the Bears' mind.

He can stop the run. Ferguson had 58 tackles in 2013 when he was named honorable mention All-SEC. Not to be redundant, but the Bears are determined to find players that thrive in run support.

Word is Ferguson still needs to develop better interior pass-rushing skills.

"You always need to work," Ferguson said Friday night. "I need to improve on pass-rush and my spin move. But one thing I always bring is my heart and my competitive nature. [I'll do] whatever it takes and for however long it takes to win."

Second-round picks are expected to contribute in Year 1, but Ferguson has the luxury of working on his technique with veteran Bears defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni until he's ready to be thrust into a starting role.

Ferguson told reporters at Halas Hall he had a positive meeting with Pasqualoni when he visited the Bears before his pro day.

"[Pasqualoni] has a great personality and he brought me to the office and we were talking ball for a long time," Ferguson said. "He asked me if I can play that two-technique, can I do it? He said that's what the Bears want me for. He showed a lot of interest."

Pasqualoni was an important hire for the Bears in the offseason. With more than 40 years of coaching experience, he is the perfect person to coach up younger defensive linemen that may possess above-average traits, but have yet to garner above-average success.

The Bears are counting on Pasqualoni to refine Ferguson's pass-rushing technique; just as Rod Marinelli did with Israel Idonije, Henry Melton and Corey Wootton before the veteran coach departed for Dallas after the Chicago Bears fired Lovie Smith.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The pick: Ego Ferguson, defensive tackle, LSU

My take: The Chicago Bears continued to stack the chips on defense Friday night in the second round of the NFL draft with the 51st overall pick. The Bears re-signed veteran defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff in free agency, and he's capable of playing both the nose and 3-technique spot. But Ratliff can play only one position at a time. So the addition of Ferguson here makes sense. Going into the draft, Chicago's roster featured just three defensive tackles in Nate Collins (coming off a torn ACL), Stephen Paea (missed three games due to a nagging toe injury) and Ratliff. Recent signees Israel Idonije and Lamarr Houston can play outside and inside, but the Bears needed an inside presence. Like most young players, Ferguson is raw in term of his technique and has a tendency to play high at times.

It's unknown whether Ferguson is an instant starter on Chicago's defensive line. But the fact the group possesses so many accomplished veterans bodes well for Ferguson's transition to the pro game.

Ferguson played 38 games at LSU, and finished his career with 85 tackles and only one sack. But his physical skill set matches up well with a one-gap scheme such as Chicago's.

Ferguson didn't become a starter at LSU until 2012.

Social media savvy: After the 2013 season, Ferguson announced on Instagram that he wouldn't be returning for his senior college season. "First off, I want to thank God without him none of this would be possible," he posted. "I also want to thank my parents for always being in my corner since day one. I want to thank coaches too for giving me the chance to play in front of the best fans in college football. These past four years have been amazing. Without my teammates I don't know where I would be right now. They were more than teammates, they were my bruddas. After talking to my parents and praying about this decision I decided to enter the 2014 NFL draft #blessed #squad #family first."

What's next: The Bears will likely continue to bolster the defense with their third-round pick. The Bears addressed a need at cornerback in the first round, and defensive tackle in the second. It's expected the club will look to add at safety or linebacker in the third round.

Live draft blog: Bears, Rds. 2-3

May, 9, 2014
May 9
Join Bears reporters Michael C. Wright and Jeff Dickerson as they give you all the latest news from team headquarters during the 2014 NFL draft.

Timmy JerniganMelina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State DT Timmy Jernigan was viewed as a first-round talent in early mock drafts.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears knocked out a need at cornerback on Thursday in Round 1 of the NFL draft with the selection of Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller, and on Friday the team will stick to the plan of replenishing the defense in Rounds 2 and 3.

Despite perhaps more pressing needs at safety and linebacker, the Bears took a versatile cornerback in the first round. What's encouraging for the next two rounds is that this year's draft class is so deep, the Bears could still find players in need areas capable of contributing significantly as rookies.

[+] EnlargeEd Reynolds
AP Photo/Tony AvelarStanford safety Ed Reynolds makes sense for the Bears in the third round.
The Bears pick 51st and 82nd overall in the next two rounds, and with options aplenty on Day 2, I'd use the second-round pick on the best defensive tackle available since that position represents the best value. I'm more partial to Florida State's Timmy Jernigan (I don't care about the alleged failed drug test) or Notre Dame's Louis Nix than a boom-or-bust prospect such as Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman.

Then, in the third round, I'd look to add competition safety with a long, rangy prospect such as Stanford's Ed Reynolds.

Looking at the players still on the board, the Bears have several options available at defensive tackle in Jernigan, Notre Dame's Nix and Stephon Tuitt, Hageman, and perhaps even later in the draft with players such as LSU's Ego Ferguson, South Carolina's Kelcy Quarles and Princeton's Caraun Reid.

At safety, the Bears should strongly consider Reynolds. He picked off seven passes over the past two years and has an NFL pedigree, from his father, Ed Sr., who played linebacker in the NFL for 10 years. Dion Bailey of Southern Cal could be another option for the Bears at safety, perhaps in the third round, and Wyoming's Marqueston Huff is a potential pick even later (six double-digit tackle games; 20 stops against Utah State).


What position should the Bears address with their second-round pick?


Discuss (Total votes: 4,132)

Linebacker options are abundant, too. Brigham Young's Kyle Van Noy racked up 62 tackles for lost yardage over four years in college; he projects as a Sam linebacker in Chicago's scheme. Florida State's Christian Jones and Telvin Smith are also athletic possibilities for perhaps later in the draft.

Keep an eye out for Connecticut's Yawin Smallwood, who posted 332 career tackles and 9.5 sacks in college and met with the Bears at the NFL combine. New Bears defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni is familiar with Smallwood, having served as head coach at Connecticut from 2011 to '13. Pasqualoni told the Hartford Courant, "[What] I really like about [Smallwood], which I think is a strength, is that he doesn't process what he sees. He just goes. Some guys look at it and they hesitate, then they go. He's not a process guy. He's a read-and-react guy, which is a big part of that position."

Perhaps Chicago general manager Phil Emery will pull one of his usual surprise picks and grab an offensive player. That wouldn't be too much of a stretch, because the benefit of a class this deep is that the Bears can legitimately find ways to address needs throughout all seven rounds.

Emery has been high on Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro, who runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash and made 106 catches last season.
Ra'Shede HagemanJesse Johnson/USA TODAY SportsRa'Shede Hageman would help shore up the Bears' run defense and he's a competent pass rusher.
Don't sleep on Day 2 of the NFL draft. Players chosen in the second and third rounds are expected to be serious contributors from the start. Since Phil Emery took over as general manager in 2012, the Chicago Bears have used second-round picks on Alshon Jeffery and Jonathan Bostic, who between them have already started a combined 29 games (Jeffery 20, Bostic nine).

These are vital selections for the long-term stability and health of a franchise.

My prediction is the Bears will select Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman with the No. 51 pick in the draft.

[+] EnlargeJace Amaro
AP Photo/Michael ConroyTight end Jace Amaro, who is projected as a second-round NFL draft pick, started all 13 games for Texas Tech in 2013.
Why Hageman? He is one of the best interior defensive linemen available. Hageman's 6-foot-5, 310-pound frame would help the Bears shore up their run defense, and he would be a nice complement to veterans Jeremiah Ratliff, Stephen Paea and Nate Collins in the club's rotation. Hageman can also rush the passer, and he started 26 games for the Golden Gophers from 2011 to '13. He hasn't been injury-prone. Hageman has experienced multiple off-the-field issues (academic suspension and misdemeanor for disorderly conduct) and reportedly had a difficult childhood. But none of that looks to be terribly alarming. Emery is open to taking players who have supposed character red flags because he believes the organization possesses the necessary amount of stability and leadership.

What if Hageman is gone already? The Bears could turn to another defensive tackle, Florida State's Timmy Jernigan. Early mock drafts linked Jernigan to the Bears at No. 14, but he fell to the second round after he reportedly tested positive for a banned substance at the NFL combine. Jernigan is on the smaller side (6-1, 299 pounds), but he earned All-ACC first-team honors last season after posting career highs with 63 tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. Jernigan had nine tackles in the BCS National Championship.

What if they're both gone? Maybe the Bears will look to further bolster the offense by adding a dynamic tight end such as Texas Tech's Jace Amaro (6-5, 265 pounds). In 2013, Amaro caught 106 passes for 1,352 yards and seven touchdowns. How would he look alongside Martellus Bennett? Imagine both Bennett and Amaro in the slot in a four-receiver set. Good luck covering that combination when Jeffery and Brandon Marshall are flanked out wide. Amaro would likely represent the best available player in this scenario. He could be too talented to pass on.