ESPNChicago.com concludes its Bears draft preview series with a look at the defensive ends.
Defensive end is a premium position.
A team can never have too many quality pass rushers, and that's the main reason it would be a mistake to dismiss the idea of the Chicago Bears drafting a defensive end.
It would be premature to speculate about Julius Peppers' future in Chicago beyond 2013, but he does carry a projected $17.383 million cap hit in 2014 and $19.683 cap hit in 2015. Eventually the Bears will look to replace Peppers, although it should be mentioned that the veteran defensive end is said to have embraced the manner in which Marc Trestman runs the team, a style much different from the way former head coach Lovie Smith operated.
It could be argued that certain veterans, perhaps even Peppers, got lazy under Smith's system. The Trestman era has been a shock to the system for some of the veterans because unlike the old regime, meetings and practices are conducted at a very quick pace, leaving no time for wasted activity during the day. There is a strong chance that a motivated Peppers could put up big numbers for the Bears in 2013, which could obviously play a role in delaying his departure.
On the other side of the defensive line, this a big season for Corey Wootton and Shea McClellin. Wootton needs to capitalize on a strong 2012 and prove to the Bears he can stay healthy and is deserving of a contract extension. McClellin and his 5-7 pounds of added muscle need to prove to a skeptical football city that he was worthy of being selected No. 19 overall in the 2012 NFL draft.
The Bears need more out of McClellin than 2.5 sacks (his rookie year total). Expect McClellin to see a boost in playing time. What he does with the increased snap count is anybody's guess.
Next 10: Rufus Johnson, Tarleton State, 6-5, 272; Michael Buchanan, Illinois, 6-6, 255; Malliciah Goodman, Georgia, 6-4, 265; William Gholston, Michigan State, 6-6, 281; David Bass, Missouri Western State, 6-4, 262; Devin Taylor, South Carolina, 6-7, 266; Joe Kruger, Utah, 6-6, 269; Mike Catapano, Princeton, 6-4, 271; Brandon Jenkins, Florida State, 6-3, 251; Tourek Williams, Florida International, 6-3, 260.
Analysis: Although the Bears have more pressing needs, there is a chance they invest a pick at defensive end, especially if they trade out of No. 20. If the Bears move back in the first round then a player such as UCLA's Datone Jones might interest general manager Phil Emery, because Jones can play either end or tackle and possesses the kind of versatility the Bears covet. There might also be a sleeper the Bears select in the late rounds or attempt to sign as an undrafted free agent.