Chicago Bears: Kevin Minter
Linebacker was a must for the Bears.
Bears general manager Phil Emery needed to find a young linebacker to push Williams and Anderson for starting jobs, while at the same time providing the club with insurance in the event one of the front line guys went down with an injury.
“The reason we like Jon -- he’s a three-position linebacker,” Emery said. “We felt it was very important that if we were going to take a linebacker in the second round, that we get somebody who can immediately fill in at all three spots. If one of our starters was not available due to injury, that he could fill in immediately and we would have a good football player in place right now.
“Obviously he’ll be given the opportunity to earn a starting job. We see him as a future starter.”
To that end, it's worth noting where the inside linebacker class stands, at least in the eyes of ESPN analysts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay. Kiper Jr. updated his list of the five best players at each position this week, while McShay released his third mock draft.
McShay had two inside linebackers in his mock: Georgia's Alec Ogletree to the New Orleans Saints at No. 15 and Te'o to the Baltimore Ravens at No. 32. Kiper's top five, on the other hand, looks this way:
Ogletree is considered the most talented inside linebacker in the draft, but has experienced two significant off-field issues in the past year, a drug suspension and a drunken-driving arrest. Obviously, Kiper Jr. thinks those issues will hurt him more than McShay does. Minter didn't impress teams at the NFL scouting combine with his time of 4.81 in the 40-yard dash at 246 pounds.
It makes you wonder if one of our teams would have a chance to draft a top-five inside linebacker in the bottom half of the second round. These assessments will change once again now that pro days have begun, but that's where things stand at the moment.
With franchise stalwart Brian Urlacher set to enter free agency, there seems to be a sense of urgency to find an heir apparent at the middle linebacker position. But two personnel evaluators believe there might be better options at the position for the Bears at No. 20.
General manager Phil Emery was asked at the NFL Combine whether Urlacher’s pending free-agent status could affect the team’s decision making in April when the team goes on the clock in the first round of the draft or next month in free agency.
“The qualities (Urlacher) brings, probably you say when you fill the roster how many linebackers we have has an impact,” Emery said. “But right now where we’re at in the process, we’re here to look at really good players and see if they fit.”