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Thursday, December 5, 2013
Emery's schedule about to heat up

By Michael C. Wright
ESPN.com

ESPN.com dropped its 2014 NFL draft order through Week 13 on Tuesday, and it at least plants the seeds for imagination -- or perhaps wishing -- about what the Chicago Bears might do in May.

As it stands now, the Bears hold the No. 18 pick. But more than likely, the team’s draft position will drop to a lower spot over the next month of the season if it fights for a spot in the postseason the way we all expect the Bears to do.

It’s obvious the Bears need to add depth to the defensive line, possibly upgrade the safety position, and maybe add some youth at cornerback, in addition to possibly drafting a quarterback to develop over the next few years. But if you’re general manager Phil Emery, what would you do?

Emery hit the road to scout the matchup between Texas A&M and Missouri in Columbia, Mo., last Saturday, and he’s definitely expressed appreciation in the past for the dynamic skill set of Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel, who hasn’t yet declared for the NFL draft. A scout at the core, Emery surely has done his due diligence on several of college football’s top quarterbacks as well as at other positions, judging from his attendance on Sept. 12 at the matchup in Lubbock, Texas between Texas Tech and Texas Christian University.

After all, Chicago’s roster features 30 players with contracts set to expire at the end of the season.

That group includes 11 starters on offense, defense and special teams, in addition to 10 key contributors such as backup quarterback Josh McCown and cornerback Zack Bowman.

So clearly it’s time for Emery and the Bears to reload across the board through the draft and free agency in addition to making huge decisions on some of their own free agents such as Jay Cutler, Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Roberto Garza, Major Wright, Matt Slauson, D.J. Williams, James AndersonRobbie Gould and Devin Hester.

While wading through those difficult decisions, Emery will be attending the Senior Bowl on Jan. 25, the NFL Combine in late February, and the regional combine at Halas Hall scheduled for Mar. 15.

So while we’re caught up in Chicago’s push over these next four weeks for a postseason berth, Emery has to deal with all that comes with that, in addition to the upcoming offseason schedule, which is where the general manager makes his money.

ESPN.com’s release of the 2014 NFL draft order only reminds me of Emery’s daunting road ahead, not to mention the fact I’ve got tons of homework to do for what should be one of Chicago’s most challenging offseasons in the last four years.

As I asked before, if you’re Emery, what would you do this offseason?