Chicago Bears: Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears made clear their intentions of making the 2014 NFL draft an endeavor in which they load up on defenders, despite fortifying in that area throughout free agency.

ESPN.com's Todd McShay revealed his fifth 2014 NFL mock draft on ESPN Insider Insider today, with this one based on the premise of taking players he would select as opposed to simply projecting what the teams around the league might do.


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Bears schedule: 5 key games

April, 24, 2014
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Here is a look at the five key matchups on the Chicago Bears' 2014 regular-season schedule:

Harbaugh
1. Sep. 14, Bears at San Francisco, 7:30 p.m. CT, NBC: The 49ers have been one of the NFC’s elite teams under head coach Jim Harbaugh with a 36-11 regular season and 5-3 postseason record (including a berth in Super Bowl XLVII) over the past three seasons. This Week 2 battle will be the first game played in the 49ers’ new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. The California stadium development is fantastic news for the Bears. San Francisco’s old venue, Candlestick Park, was a house of horrors for Chicago teams. The Bears lost their final seven games at Candlestick by a combined score of 230-49. That is not a typo. 49ers 230 -- Bears 49. Hello, Santa Clara.

2. Oct. 12, Bears at Atlanta, noon CT, FOX: The Falcons fell apart last season because of injuries and finished 4-12. With better health and a couple new pieces on defense, Atlanta figures to contend for the NFC South title in 2014. But the Georgia Dome is another place that has played tricks on the Bears in recent years. The Bears were poised to knock off the Falcons in 2009, but lost 21-14 after a series of costly mistakes that included: Jay Cutler throwing an interception in the red zone, Matt Forte fumbling on two straight runs from the one-yard line, and former offensive tackle Orlando Pace being whistled for a false start on 4th-and-1 from the Atlanta 5-yard line on the game’s final drive. The Bears also allowed the Falcons to escape with a 22-20 victory in the Georgia Dome in 2008 on a late botched coverage that led to a winning field goal as time expired.

Belichick
3. Oct. 26, Bears at New England, noon CT, FOX: The Bears' most recent visit to Foxborough occurred in the Super Bowl year of 2006 when the teams played a tight game that featured a massive amount of turnovers. The Patriots eventually won 17-13, and four years later New England routed the Bears at a snowy Soldier Field, 36-7, leaving ex-head coach Lovie Smith winless against Bill Belichick. Second-year Bears’ boss Marc Trestman now has the opportunity to match wits with the perennial AFC powerhouse and arguably the greatest coach in the history of the NFL. Since the Patriots are always good, this figures to be one of the NFL’s marquee matchups in Week 8.

4. Nov. 9, Bears at Green Bay, 7:30 p.m. CT, NBC: This all looks so familiar. The Bears, fresh off their bye week, travel to Lambeau Field for a nationally televised night game. Where have we seen this before? Oh, yes, it was last year when Shea McClellin knocked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers out of a Monday night game with a fractured collarbone as the Bears pulled out a 27-20 victory. Can the Bears do it again? Keep in mind the Packers will also be coming off a bye week when the Bears arrive in Green Bay, so it’s not as if the Bears are expected to be fresher. But having extra time to prepare for Rodgers and company is never a bad thing. In a scheduling twist, the Bears won’t see the Packers again after Week 9 unless the teams meet in the playoffs.

Smith
5. Nov. 23, Bears vs. Buccaneers, noon CT, FOX: Welcome back, Lovie and Josh. The return of Lovie Smith and Josh McCown to Soldier Field will be highly anticipated in Chicago. Expect McCown, the new Tampa Bay quarterback, to receive a warm ovation from the Soldier Field faithful. Why wouldn’t he? McCown had a career year for the Bears in 2013 when he completed 149-of-224 attempts for 1,829 yards, 13 touchdowns and one interception. Sure, McCown signed with the Bucs in free agency, but the Bears never made him an official offer. You can’t blame McCown for jumping ship. On the other hand, the reception for Smith is unlikely to be as positive, even though he won 81 regular-season games and three division titles in nine years before the Bears fired him. But Smith probably won’t care. He never struck me as the nostalgic type.

Bears draft focus: S

April, 24, 2014
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The Chicago Bears haven’t drafted a safety in the first round since Mark Carrier in 1990.

That drought could end next month.

Safety is clearly a position of need for the Bears after they lost both starters from last year: strong safety Major Wright left in free agency to Tampa Bay and free safety Chris Conte underwent shoulder surgery in late March that is expected to sideline him until the preseason.

The Bears did address the position in free agency by signing Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings and Danny McCray, plus re-signing veteran Craig Steltz to a one-year deal, but the starting combination is far from set. It is conceivable that a rookie draft pick could start for the Bears at safety in Week 1, along with perhaps Mundy.

If the Bears decide to take a safety at No. 14 overall, there are two options: Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor.

ESPNChicago.com reported that Pryor made an official pre-draft visit to the Bears, while the NFL Network noted that Clinton-Dix also made a recent trip to Halas Hall.

Clinton-Dix is said to have terrific instincts and above average coverage skills.

Pryor is one of the hardest hitters in the draft. He can absolutely destroy ball carriers in the run game. Newly hired Bears assistant defensive line coach Clint Hurtt spent three years with Pryor at Louisville as the Cardinals’ defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator.

ESPNChicago.com also noted Washington State safety Deone Bucannon made a top-30 pre-draft visit to the Bears in March. Another physical tackler, Bucannon intercepted six passes in 2013 and finished his career with 15 total picks for the Cougars. Most analysts project Bucannon will be drafted somewhere in the second or third round.

The Bears took a safety in the third round every year from 2010-2012 (Wright, Conte and Brandon Hardin). That approach failed to solidify the position long-term.

Maybe it’s time for the Bears to swing for the fences.

Five potential targets:

1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Alabama
2. Calvin Pryor, Louisville
3. Deone Bucannon, Washington State
4. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois
5. Terrence Brooks, Florida State

The next five: 6. Ahmad Dixon, Baylor; 7. Maurice Alexander, Utah State; 8. Ed Reynolds, Stanford; 9. Daniel Sorensen, BYU; 10. Antone Exum, Virginia Tech.

Position grade: B
» NFC: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Predictions


Breakdown: Teams discuss the need to start off quickly so often it's become almost cliché. But in Chicago's case, it holds true with the club playing two of the first three games on the road against quality opponents. The Bears open Sept. 7 at home against the Buffalo Bills, before hitting the road for the opening of the new Levi's Stadium against the San Francisco 49ers in a prime-time clash. In Week 3, the Bears go back on the road for a Sept. 22 game against the New York Jets on "Monday Night Football." So Chicago's revamped defense, which finished 32nd last season against the run, will be tested early on in the schedule against Frank Gore (1,128 yards last season) and new Jets addition Chris Johnson (1,000-plus yards in six consecutive seasons). Maybe both backs are truly washed up. Maybe they're not. Either way, the Bears get a chance to find out while they're fresh. After the outings against the 49ers and Jets, the Bears host the Green Bay Packers. So what's expected to be a revamped Bears defense better be prepared.

Starting with the matchup at San Francisco, the Bears play four of their first six games on the road: at Carolina on Oct. 5, at Atlanta on Oct. 12 and at New England on Oct. 26 just before what will likely be a much-needed Week 9 bye. What's good for the Bears is they play five of their final eight games at Soldier Field, which could make for a tremendous advantage as the weather begins to turn downright frigid in Chicago.

Complaint department: Why not start the schedule at Soldier Field against former coach Lovie Smith and former backup quarterback-turned-starter Josh McCown? That would make for an intriguing, potentially drama-filled matchup to kick off the season. Instead, that matchup won't come until four days before Thanksgiving.

Furthermore, the Bears play the Lions on Thanksgiving, and then host them in Week 16 before concluding the regular season on the road Dec. 28 against Minnesota at TCF Bank Stadium. Prior to the Thanksgiving clash with Detroit, the Bears host the Vikings Nov. 16. That means the Bears face the Lions and Vikings for a combined four games over the last seven weeks of the season. That could be either boring, which might be complaint-worthy, or full of drama and playoff implications if the teams are in the thick of the hunt in the NFC North. So we're not sure whether to complain or applaud here.

Thanksgiving turkeys: That's typically what the Bears have been on this holiday in recent history, but perhaps that changes this year with the schedule featuring a Thanksgiving matchup on the road against the Detroit Lions. Interestingly, Chicago and the Lions have squared off on Thanksgiving on 15 occasions, with the Bears holding an 8-7 record. But the Bears own a 1-4 mark in their past five outings on Thanksgiving, with their last win coming courtesy of the Lions on Nov. 25, 1993. The Bears haven't played a Thanksgiving game since Nov. 25, 2004, when they lost 21-7 at Dallas during former coach Lovie Smith's first season at the helm. That season, the Bears finished with a record of 5-11.

Strength of schedule: 15th, .496 | Vegas over/under : 8

Bears Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 7, Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 14, at San Francisco, 8:30 p.m.
Week 3: Monday, Sept. 22, at N.Y. Jets, 8:30 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 28, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 5, at Carolina, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 12, at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 19, Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 26, at New England, 1 p.m.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 9, at Green Bay, 8:30 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 16, Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 23, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Thursday, Nov. 27, at Detroit, 12:30 p.m.
Week 14: Thursday, Dec. 4, Dallas, 8:25 p.m.
Week 15: Monday, Dec. 15, New Orleans, 8:30 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 21, Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 28, at Minnesota, 1 p.m.

Bears sign RB Shaun Draughn

April, 23, 2014
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The Chicago Bears signed running back Shaun Draughn to a one-year contract, the team announced.

Draughn
Draughn played in 20 games for the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens from 2011-13. His best season came in 2012 when he carried the ball 59 times for 233 yards and two touchdowns and caught 24 passes for 158 yards for the Chiefs.

Draughn also returned 23 kickoffs for 537 yards that same year in Kansas City.

Bears general manager Phil Emery served as the Chiefs' director of college scouting when Draughn entered the league in 2011 as an undrafted rookie free agent out of North Carolina. Draughn originally signed with the Washington Redskins before eventually making his way to Kansas City.

The 6-foot, 205 pound tailback appeared in just three games and ran the ball only four times for two yards for the Ravens last season.

The Bears were looking to add depth in the backfield in the offseason after the club released veteran running back Michael Bush on the eve of NFL free agency in March. The team could still decide to draft a running back in the late rounds to compete with the likes of Draughn and Michael Ford for the reserve roster spots behind two-time Pro Bowl starter Matt Forte.

NFL Nation Buzz: Chicago Bears

April, 23, 2014
Apr 23
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video
ESPN.com Bears reporter Michael C. Wright discusses the team’s interest in drafting a defensive tackle.

Bears draft focus: DE

April, 23, 2014
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The Chicago Bears invested $34.45 million guaranteed in defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young in free agency, but it’s not guaranteed the team won’t continue to add at the position during the NFL draft, although now that possibility seems less likely.

It's worth noting the Bears also added veterans Israel Idonije, Trevor Scott and Austen Lane in free agency to bolster a corps of defensive ends that includes David Bass, Tracy Robertson and Cornelius Washington.

“We’re going to be involved in a drafting process here that there’s going to be a lot of young players,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said in February at the NFL combine. “They’re all going to be young players and they’re all, for the most part -- not all -- but for the most part, it’s going to be a defensive-oriented draft in terms of where we’re going. It all starts with, schematically in the offseason, with [us] putting in a system of football where we have to be able to stop the run first. Stopping the run isn’t just a first line of defense area, it’s all three areas. But certainly that’s a big part of it, and obviously we want to be able to rush the passer and create a pass rush with four guys. Everybody wants four guys rushing to be able to inhibit the quarterback from completing a throwing motion and disrupting in the pocket.”

The Bears believe they’ve found a solid group of starters to complete that task, but the club learned the hard way from last year’s rash of injuries that the roster can never contain too much depth; especially along the defensive line. So while it’s almost a certainty the Bears won’t use the No. 14 overall pick in the draft to select a defensive end, the club might still use a selection in the later rounds to bolster depth at the position.

If Chicago’s recent activity is any indication, defensive end doesn’t appear to be a priority for the team at this point. So far, none of the club’s official pre-draft visitors at Halas Hall have been defensive ends, and it’s believed the Bears haven’t worked out any players at that position during various pro days around the country.

Here’s a list of potential fits for the Bears at defensive end:

Five potential targets

Player, School, Projected Round

1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, 1

2. Dee Ford, Auburn, 1

3. Kony Ealy, Missouri, 1-2

4. Scott Crichton, Oregon State, 2

5. DeMarcus Lawrence, Boise State, 2

The next 5: 6. Kareem Martin, North Carolina; 7. Trent Murphy, Stanford; 8. Marcus Smith, Louisville; 9. Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas; 10. Will Clarke, West Virginia.

Position grade: A-

Bears meet with UCLA OLB Anthony Barr

April, 22, 2014
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CHICAGO -- The Bears traveled to Los Angeles in late March to conduct a private workout with UCLA outside linebacker Anthony Barr, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation.

ESPN NFL Draft Insider Mel Kiper Jr. projects Barr as being selected by the San Diego Chargers at No. 25 overall in the next month’s draft. Both Kiper and fellow ESPN Draft Insider Todd McShay rank Barr as the second best outside linebacker in the 2014 draft class.

Barr began his UCLA career in the Bruins’ offensive backfield where he lined up primarily at H back and appeared in 24 games and made 11 starts over the course of his freshman and sophomore year.

However, the 6-foot-5, 255 pound Barr made the switch to defense before his junior year and exploded with 13.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles-for-loss and 83 tackles in 2012. His 13.5 sacks were the second highest total in the nation behind only Georgia’s Jarvis Jones (14.5).

Barr followed up that effort with 62 tackles, 10 sacks, 20 tackles-for-loss, five forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries last season for the Bruins.

Most draft analysts consider Barr a better fit in a 3-4 defense where he can stand up and rush the passer, but the Bears have been known to make unorthodox selections the last two years. Few people predicted 2012 first-round choice Shea McClellin would be taken by a team that used a 4-3 defense, but the Bears snatched the hybrid McClellin up with the No. 19 overall pick.

On the surface, the Bears appear to have a greater need at inside linebacker, but Barr is an elite athlete, who ran a 4.41 40 yard dash in front of scouts at his pro day at UCLA.

Bears draft focus: DT

April, 22, 2014
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Official pre-draft visits and the team’s recent activity indicate the Chicago Bears -- despite investing heavily along the defensive line in free agency -- might still be inclined to at least one selection in the NFL draft to select a defensive tackle.

Paea
Ratliff
The club re-signed Jeremiah Ratliff in free agency along with Nate Collins, but Henry Melton left to sign with the Dallas Cowboys. Including rising fourth-year veteran Stephen Paea, who is entering the final year of his original rookie contract, Chicago’s roster features just three bona fide defensive tackles, which means there’s a strong possibility the club adds at the position during the draft.

The question now seems to be when. Holding the 14th overall pick, the Bears could go after Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald, Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan, Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III or maybe even take a chance on the talented, but inconsistent Ra’Shede Hageman of Minnesota. The club could also opt to fortify another position with its first-round pick, and then address defensive tackle in the later rounds.

“I’ll say this: I think we have a history of we’re not afraid to take calculated risks, and we’ll continue to do that,” Bears general manager Phil Emery said at the NFL combine in February. “We’ll continue to find players that have upside skills, that have good ceilings in terms of athletically, speed and size, and we’ll piece it together. Obviously, there is a plan in place.”

Contingency plans, too, it appears, based on the way the Bears have conducted business in the weeks leading up to the draft. The Bears attended the University of Florida’s pro day recently to work out defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who worked through drills for scouts for the first time since tearing a right ACL and right meniscus. Interestingly, Bears defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni put Easley through some of the drills. At this point, Easley is projected to be taken in the second round.

The club also recently brought in Nix -- projected to be taken late first in the first round or early in the second -- for an official visit at Halas Hall, and it has also spent time with Arizona State’s Will Sutton. It’s expected the Bears will meet with even more defensive tackle prospects. That’s understandable, given the struggles the defense experience last season in part because of injuries at various spots.

Chicago gave up 161.4 yards per game on the ground last season (32nd in the NFL), and responded in free agency with the signings of defensive linemen Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, and reserve Israel Idonije. But even after those signings, Emery made it clear the club’s work wasn’t yet done.

The hope is it’s completed during the NFL draft.

“My personal preference is bigger is always better [in defensive linemen] as long as you’re not sacrificing athleticism and speed,” Emery said. “This is a fast game. But it’s a very physically tough, impactful game, and you need bigger bodies over time to win those matchups.”

Five potential targets

Player, School, Projected Round

1. Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh, 1

2. Timmy Jernigan, Florida State, 1

3. Louis Nix, Notre Dame, 1-2

4. RaShede Hageman, Minnesota, 1-2

5. Dominique Easley, Florida, 2

The next 5: 6. Will Sutton, Arizona State; 7. Ego Ferguson, LSU. 8. Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina; 9. Anthony Johnson, LSU; 10. Caraun Reid, Princeton

Position grade: B

McClellin transforms body in move to LB

April, 21, 2014
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The Chicago Bears will notice a lighter and leaner Shea McClellin when the team kicks off its offseason program Tuesday.

Fresh off a 12-week stint in California with veteran performance coach Scot Prohaska, McClellin dropped 11 pounds and 8 percent body fat in the offseason in anticipation of his much-anticipated move from defensive end to linebacker.

McClellin currently checks in at 252 pounds with 10 percent body fat, while running a 4.5 40-yard dash and bench-pressing 365 pounds.

"He knew it was a big year for him and wanted to perform for his teammates, the fans and the organization," Prohaska told ESPNChicago.com on Monday. "He felt deep inside this [linebacker] is where he always belonged. He was really motivated to prove to everybody that this is where he belonged."

Prohaska, who is based in Huntington Beach, Calif., has worked with professional athletes in a variety of sports for 20 years.

"I've known about Shea because his agent is a friend of mine and I actually help with some of his combine guys," Prohaska said. "I watched Shea this year and there was obviously a little concern about his performance. He struggled a little bit up and down the defensive line. I've been kind of eyeing him this last year but I've only known him for this offseason.

"So I evaluated him and took a look at a lot of his stuff in college at Boise State. I realized he was missing a couple of strengths or strength qualities you need for football. He's a springy guy, so in space he can get around you. But when he would lock in with a player, he didn't have the isometric strength or back strength to drive past the guy and disengage."

Prohaska said McClellin completely bought in to his program and moved to California with his wife for the three-month training session. The workouts ran five days a week for three hours a day, not to mention the nutritional part of the plan that McClellin had to adhere to.

McClellin never missed a workout.

"The first hour of the workout would be all movement-based stuff, linebacker stuff, drills -- really teaching him how to drop his hips and move in space," Prohaska said. "It was all multidirectional stuff. In the later afternoon we would hit on real critical strength stuff he needed; other days it was explosive strength."

The Bears think moving McClellin to linebacker will revitalize the first-round pick's career after he recorded just 6.5 total sacks in 2012 and '13 when he lined up at defensive end. McClellin is expected to compete for the starting strongside linebacker's job, but the Bears could decide to move the athletic McClellin to different spots during a game if the defense sports a more hybrid look.

Bears draft focus: LB

April, 21, 2014
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Despite selecting a pair of linebackers over the opening four rounds of last year’s draft, the Bears still need to find a viable, long-term solution in the middle of the defense.

While 2013 second-round pick Jon Bostic started nine games at middle linebacker as a rookie, Bears general manager Phil Emery has hinted on multiple occasions that Bostic may be better suited to one day move to outside linebacker.

“Maybe in the future his best position might be at one of those outside spots where he is filling from the backside and able to use his unique talents to the best of his ability,” Emery told ESPN 1000’s “Waddle and Silvy Show” last December.

[+] EnlargeC.J. Mosley
Scott Donaldson/Icon SMIAlabama's C.J. Mosley is the top-rated inside linebacker in this year's draft.
Where Bostic lines up this year is up in the air. The Bears re-signed veteran inside linebacker D.J. Williams to a one-year deal, but Williams hasn’t been able to stay healthy, and appeared in just six games last season before landing on injured reserve with a torn pectoral muscle. Williams will turn 32 in July, and even if he does manage to shake off the injury bug, is likely a short-term fix at middle linebacker.

Khaseem Greene, a 2013 fourth-round draft choice, replaced Lance Briggs at weakside linebacker for seven games last year and seems earmarked for a role on special teams in 2014, unless the Bears suffer another rash of injuries at the position.

Former first-round pick Shea McClellin is expected to transition from defensive end to strongside linebacker.

So if the Bears are serious about potentially moving Bostic outside in the near future, the team needs to find help at inside linebacker, possibly in this draft.

Alabama’s C.J. Mosley is the consensus No. 1 inside linebacker in the 2014 draft class and could be available when the Bears pick at No. 14 overall in the first round. But with greater needs at safety, cornerback and defensive tackle, the Bears could wait until the middle rounds to address linebacker.

If that is the route the Bears decide to go, Monday is an important day because Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov is scheduled to hold a private pro day and run in front of scouts and NFL personnel people for the first time in the offseason. Skov, who declined an invitation to the Senior Bowl, pulled a hamstring before Stanford’s pro day that kept him sidelined. He also did not run the 40 yard dash in February at the NFL combine.

Skov has dealt with injuries throughout his college career, but the 6-foot-2, 245 pounder finished last season with better overall numbers than many of the other highly rated linebackers in the class of 2014, including Mosley.

Skov recorded 109 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss in 2013.

Another mid-round linebacker that could make sense for the Bears is Louisville’s Preston Brown, who began his college career at strong side linebacker before moving to the middle where he led the Cardinals in tackles back-to-back seasons. He had 98 stops, five sacks and 14 tackles for loss for Louisville last year.

“Moving to the middle taught me how to take control of the whole defense,” Brown said. “When you’re on the outside, you line up more at the line of scrimmage. In the middle, you sit back five yards and have to study what’s going on and make sure everybody is in the right place. You have to know everybody’s job.

"When you play Mike linebacker, you have to study a ton and learn the different shifts and formations. You have to be dialed in every snap, every game, because if you miss a check that could result in the other team scoring a touchdown. [Intelligence] is so important when you play middle linebacker.”

Brown has strong ties to new Bears assistant defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, who served as Louisville’s defensive line coach/recruiting coordinator from 2010-13.

“I love Coach Hurtt and he was one of my favorite coaches on the staff,” Brown said. “I would meet with him at least once a week and watch the run game and pick up some pass-rush moves from him. You could always talk to him if you had a problem. He was one of my favorite coaches.”

Five potential targets
1. C.J. Mosley, Alabama
2. Shayne Skov, Stanford
3. Chris Borland, Wisconsin
4. Preston Brown, Louisville
5. Max Bullough, Michigan State

The next five: 6. Avery Williamson, Kentucky; 7. Yawin Smallwood, Connecticut; 8. Khairi Fortt, California; 9. DeDe Lattimore, South Florida; 10. Glenn Carson, Penn State.
Position grade: B
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Cornerback Pierre Desir on Bears' radar

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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The Chicago Bears' search to find a tall cornerback to eventually replace veteran Charles Tillman led the team’s Director of College Scouting Marty Barrett to attend the private Pro Day last month of Lindenwood’s Pierre Desir, according to a source present at the workout.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN NFL Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projects the 6-foot-1, 198 pound Desir will be selected in the second round by the Philadelphia Eagles with the 54th overall pick. The Bears currently own the 51st overall selection.

A relative unknown after spending two years at Washburn, followed by the two seasons at Lindenwood, Desir finished his college career with 25 total interceptions and 52 pass breakups en route to being named a Division II All-American three times.

Desir participated in the East-West Shrine game, Senior Bowl, and was invited to the NFL combine in February.

With Tillman back on a one-year deal, the Bears are believed to be leaning towards drafting a cornerback with a larger frame in the event Tillman leaves the organization after 2014. Since the club already has money and years locked up in undersized 5-foot-8 cornerback Tim Jennings, the Bears need to find a young cornerback big enough to one day matchup with the taller wide receivers in the NFC North, especially Detroit’s Calvin Johnson.

In addition to Barrett and the Bears, four other NFL teams were present at Desir’s Pro Day on March 20.

Reviewing the Bears' drafts: 2013

April, 18, 2014
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Here is Part 5 of our series reviewing the past five drafts of the Chicago Bears.

With one full-season under his belt, general manager Phil Emery took on the task of rebuilding the offensive line, while inserting youth into an aging defense that would be playing under a new head coach for the first time since 2004.

First-round pick: Kyle Long, OG, Oregon

Number of picks: 6

How they did: Above average. Four of the six members of the 2013 draft class cracked the starting lineup last season, with Long and fifth-round choice Jordan Mills starting all 16 regular-season games. Bostic was thrown into the fire after veteran middle linebacker D.J. Williams suffered a season-ending injury, and Greene had the unenviable task of attempting to replace perennial Pro Bowl weakside linebacker Lance Briggs, who missed seven games because of a shoulder issue. Seventh-rounder Marquess Wilson played sparingly as a rookie, but is expected to have a much larger role in the offense as the No. 3 wide receiver in 2014. Cornelius Washington, a sixth-round defensive end out of Georgia, spent the bulk of the season on the inactive list.

[+] EnlargeKyle Long
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesKyle Long showed leadership qualities as a rookie.
Pivotal pick: Long. The Bears switched out four of their five starting offensive linemen from 2012 to 2013. Though the club signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod and left guard Matt Slauson (a pair of excellent free-agent pickups) before the draft, it was critical for the organization to hit on a first-round offensive lineman after missing on Chris Williams (2008) and Gabe Carimi (2011). Another failure on the offensive line in the first round would have forced the Bears to spend more money in free agency or re-draft the position again entirely. That will not have to happen unless Long suffers some kind of injury. He should be a fixture on the Bears’ offensive line for 10 years, at least. Plus, his athleticism and intelligence could allow him to change positions in the future if the Bears deem it necessary.

Best pick: Long. When respected team captain and veteran center Roberto Garza calls it quits, Long will take over the leadership of the offensive line and be one of the key voices in the locker room. Although Long prefers not to talk about himself, he has a commanding presence that cannot be ignored. But what makes this such a great pick is that Long was a relative unknown coming out of Oregon, where he started just a handful of games. It takes guts to select a player at No. 20 overall who played only one year of major college football. Yet, the Bears did their homework, stood by their convictions, and were rewarded with likely the club’s best first-round pick since Tommie Harris in 2004.

Worst pick: Washington. But to be fair, he’s only been in the NFL for one season. There is a chance he improves his technique in the offseason and learns how to use his 6-foot-4 frame to his advantage. Washington never really had a permanent position at Georgia, so he is considered raw. Obviously, the Bears did not feel comfortable enough to use Washington last season as a rookie even though the club badly needed help up front on the defensive line. With the additions of Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije, it will be tough for Washington to make an impact, or even to make the team in 2014. But it’s never wise to give up on a young player after just one season. Let’s see how it plays out for Washington when the team officially begins its offseason program on April 22.
Diligence by the Chicago Bears’ front office in free agency helped to carve out flexibility for the NFL draft, but defense still remains the major focus.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draftInsider is out on ESPN Insider today, and his choices through the first two rounds definitely reflect the team’s intentions to orchestrate a renaissance on defense.


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