What will the Chicago Bears do in the 2014 NFL draft? Keep track of all the predictions made in our mock drafts leading up to Round 1 on May 8.
Round 1, pick 14: Louis Nix, DT, Notre Dame
We said: Chicago clearly has issues along its defensive line, and taking Nix would help a lot. Some think of him as more of a 3-4 hole-plugging nose tackle, but Nix has the agility and short-area speed to make plays as well. He would also allow Marc Trestman’s defensive staff to be more versatile and variable in their line concepts, not unlike Dontari Poe did for the Chiefs last season.
Round 1, pick 14: Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
We said: When the Bears held the 14th pick in the 2004 draft, they used it on 300-pounder Tommie Harris, who then went on to become an anchor up front on Chicago’s NFC championship team. This team needs that space-eater who can push the pocket inside again. Nix proclaimed himself 23 pounds lighter at the combine than his college playing weight: “Yeah man, my stomach doesn’t stick out as much. That’s kind of nice. I like that part. My thighs got a little smaller. I just feel sexier, man.”
He’s still a healthy 330 pounds — just the type of guy Chicago needs up front.
Round 2, pick 51: Travis Swanson, C, Arkansas
We said: The Bears’ young line adds another punishing blocker in Swanson, the No. 1 center.
Round 1, pick 14: Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
We said: The Bears' safety position is a glaring need, and with Alabama's top-rated Ha Ha Clinton-Dix still available, his selection at No. 14 would be understandable in every way. But Chicago's interior defensive line needs help, too, and the Bears should have quality options to choose from there as well. The explosive Jernigan is a handful in the middle, and he was a penetrating, playmaking force for the 2013 national champion Seminoles. He has the power and speed to beat blockers, and the knack for reading running plays as they are developing. Other possibilities for the Bears defensive line include Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who was a Senior Bowl week standout, Notre Dame defensive tackle Louis Nix III, and Missouri defensive end Kony Ealy.
Round 1, pick 14: Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
We said: Injuries marred Chicago’s defensive line in 2013, but projecting Donald here is more about the future than any short-term spackle. Pitt opponents tried just about everything to slow him down, and nothing worked. Because you won’t often see an interior lineman blast off and kill the gaps as he does, Donald would have the chance to become Chicago’s best interior defensive lineman since Tommie Harris’ glory days.
Round 1, pick 14: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Alabama
We said: The Bears have some work to do in their secondary. At cornerback, Charles Tillman’s headed to free agency and, at some point in the next draft or two, they’ll need a fallback plan for Tim Jennings (currently 30 years old, with a new contract that allows Chicago to boot him easily after 2015.)
Round 1, pick 17: Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
We said: This was a home-run swing in the earlier mock, with Zach Mettenberger penciled in here as a Jay Cutler replacement. There could be other QB options on the board still, including a couple of those intriguing guys mentioned earlier (Bortles and Hundley, for starters). But with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings both potentially out as free agents, the Bears look for cornerback help instead.
Round 1, pick 27: Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
We said: “It looks illegal. It looks like it shouldn’t be on the field, but it is.” That’s how the 6-4, 254-pound Ebron described his speed to the News and Observer. The junior has 13 catches for 200 yards so far in 2013, and his ability to challenge defenses over the middle would make for a deadly combo alongside Martellus Bennett.
Round 1, pick 20: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA
We said: Barr, with 13.0 sacks off the edge last season, might be more suited for a 3-4 than Chicago’s 4-3. Or he’d be a Von Miller-type for the Bears here. Odds are, in the long run, that Barr might be off the board well before this next April. Also in consideration here: A.J. McCarron or Aaron Murray.