NFL: Chicago Bears Draft Needs 2014

Timmy Jernigan
Timmy Jernigan
Florida State tackle Timmy Jernigan Melina Vastola USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears are going on the offensive to improve the team’s woeful defensive fortunes.

Confused? Well, that explains the state of the Bears 2013 defense and addresses exactly why they are of their mindset heading into the 2014 NFL Draft.

Once championed as the gold standard among the league’s defenses, the Monsters of the Midway allowed an NFL worst 2,583 rushing yards, or an average of 5.3 yards per carry, this season. A far cry from the days of Butkus, Singletary, or even Urlacher.

So drastic are the Bears’ needs at trying to slow the run, they may even seek to address it long before draft day sees the light of day, in the form of Super Bowl winning linebacker Michael Bennett, the brother of current tight end Martellus.

Martellus, who caught 65 passes last season, has let it be known he’s not above running a little interference in hopes of landing that missing element, the likes of which his Super Bowl-winning brother just proved he can provide.

Word is the Bears will pursue the elder Bennett with the same level of reckless disregard he roamed the field with while leading the Seahawks to the point of becoming the league’s premiere defense.

From there, the Bears will turn their focus to May 8, where with the No. 14 pick, they are openly salivating at the prospect of landing Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. The first-team All-ACC performer led FSU’s national championship-winning defense with 11 tackles for a loss and was revered as strong run stuffer up the middle, just what the Bears need most.

Minnesota’s Ra’Sheade Hageman, described by CBS Sports as “a brute in the middle, combining excellent size and power to push blockers deep into the pocket,” is also an option, as is Notre Dame’s Louis Nix III, AKA “Chocolate Thunder,” who several scouts are convinced will soon prove worthy of commanding double teams in hopes of slowing down his “well-rounded” game.

Beyond the line, the Bears, who also own a second, third, fourth, fifth, and two sixth round picks, will be in the market for a defensive end, cornerback, linebacker, and safety.

At end, everyone from Stanford’s Trent Murphy and Missouri’s Kony Ealy is on the team’s radar, and at linebacker C.J. Mosley and Ryan Shazier, a couple of athletic and speedy stat stuffers, from Alabama and Ohio State, respectively, have peaked management’s interest.

If Mosley does indeed make his way to Chicago, he might well be accompanied on the flight over by versatile and crafty Tide teammate Ha’sean Clinton-Dix, rated among the top safeties on the team’s draft boards.

Even though the team recently inked Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings to a long term deal, the hole in the secondary remains a glaring one. Charles Tillman is a free agent and Zack Bowman and Kevin Hayden still rate as mysteries.

Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert, saluted by as a talent who “has the size to play on the outside… and is good in bump-and-run and functions well in off-man coverage” remains the team’s draft day preference, with Michigan State’s Darqueze Dennard not rated far behind.

Bolstering the team’s defensive cause all the more could be the healthy returns of the likes of Henry Melton, Nate Collins and now free agent Corey Wootton, all of whom missed significant time this season with varying injuries.

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Glenn Minnis
Glenn Minnis is an XN Sports NBA contributor. He has written for the Chicago Tribune, ESPN, BET and AOL. Follow him on Twitter at @glennnyc.