Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith could be in a tough spot next Thursday night when the Bears are on the clock at No.29. With needs along both the offensive and defensive line, Chicago could see all of their targeted prospects off the board—leaving them with some hard decisions to make.
Here are four possible options for the Bears—and the direction I would go in Chicago at the end of the first-round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
ICONWould the Bears take a shot with UNC's Marvin Austin at No.29?
1. Defensive tackle: In our previous NFP Mock Draft, we slotted UNC DT Marvin Austin to the Bears at No.29. Character concerns attached to his name, but first-round talent when you turn on the tape. The type of prospect that can slide into the D-Line rotation and contribute a rookie. Plus, with the stock on Illinois DT Corey Liuget continuing to rise and the buzz surrounding Temple’s Muhammad Wilkerson, the former Tarheel could be the only first round play here at the 3-technique position in Chicago's 4-3 front.
2. Offensive tackle: We are looking at a possibility of five offensive tackles going in the first round (Tyron Smith, Anthony Castonzo, Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod). With O-Line coach Mike Tice playing a major role in the scouting process, I can’t see the Bears passing on any of these prospects if they start to slide. However, with offensive tackle being a premium position, it would be a gift for one of these players to still be waiitng for a phone call when the Bears are making their pick.
The Bears need a legit No.1 WR outside of the numbers and this could be a real option at the end of the first round. While Miami’s Leonard Hankerson projects more as a late second round, early third round pick, one name that I have heard is Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin. Size and real playmaking ability in the 3-step and vertical passing game. Forget the argument that the Bears are set at the position with Knox, Hester and Bennett—because Martz’s offense needs a receiver that can win outside and produce in crucial situations for QB Jay Cutler.
4. Trade down: Not what Bears’ fans want to hear, but we have to understand that Angelo isn’t going to reach on a prospect—or take a lot of risk. Add in the possibility of a late first round run on QBs (Mallett, Locker, Dalton, etc.), and Chicago could find themselves in a prime position to move back in the draft and grab some more picks. Think of teams such as the Bengals, Titans, etc. that could move up into the end of the first round to grab a QB. The Bears only have six selections in the 2011 draft and the right offer could be too much for Angelo to pass up.
How should it play out for Chicago?
I would take a shot here at the end of the first round. Target Austin, Baldwin and also entertain the idea of grabbing a CB at No. 29 to upgrade the secondary if you want to compete with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Forget about trading back and picking up prospects that project into future starters. Instead, draft a player with a first-round grade and get him on the field in 2011.
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