Thursday, April 24, 2014
Bears draft focus: S
By Jeff Dickerson
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