- Jeff Dickerson, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
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.
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.