The Chicago Bears missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons, and their 8-8 record in 2013 under first-year head coach Marc Trestman earned the club the No. 14 overall pick in this year’s draft.
The Bears added five starters on offense last year and, as a result, the club experienced somewhat of a resurgence on that side of the ball with the unit gaining a franchise-record 6,109 net yards, in addition to the passing game setting single-season records in gross passing yards (4,450), net passing yards (4,281), completion percentage (64.4), passing touchdowns (32) and passer rating (96.9). The 2013 offense also finished second in team history in scoring (445 points).
Defensively, the Bears yielded drastically different results, as they allowed the most total yards in franchise history, in addition to giving up 10 100-yard rushing performances.
So now, it’s time to upgrade the defense. The Bears made that abundantly clear in free agency, as every acquisition the club made plays on that side of the ball. But given all the holes on defense, the club’s efforts in free agency up to this point haven’t been sufficient. More needs to be done. That’s why the draft is important.
Although it’s still up in the air as to whether cornerback Charles Tillman will return for 2014, the club still needs to find his heir apparent. But after cutting defensive end Julius Peppers, and adding Lamarr Houston from Oakland, the Bears are still in danger of losing defensive tackle Henry Melton and defensive end Corey Wootton via free agency. So reinforcements need to be added first along the defensive line, which was the main source of the club’s problems in 2013.
So expect the Bears to look at some of the top-tier defensive linemen, such as Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald or Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan, with the 14th pick in the draft, but the club could also help itself by acquiring help on the back end with players such as Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert or Alabama safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Check out ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s Mock Draft 3.0 to see which players he thinks the Bears should target with the No. 14 overall pick.