Their loss to St. Louis didn’t hurt their spot in the division race but it did bump the Chicago Bears down to the 18th pick in this latest version of the 2014 NFL mock draft.
1st Round – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
Defensive tackle is a huge need for the Bears at this point. Their top three players at the position are out with injuries and two are done with torn ACLs. Chicago has to upgrade the position early and often. Timmy Jernigan is a classic three-technique who explodes off the snap with the quickness to stymie the run or knife between blocks to get at the quarterbacks.
2nd Round – Darqueze Dennard – CB – Michigan State
Injury history may force him into the second round but there is no question Darqueze Dennard is becoming one of the more popular corners in the 2014 class. He is made for a zone scheme, able to read and react extremely fast with the physical toughness to help against the run. He excels in press coverage but maintains the athleticism to stay versatile. With Chicago having five corners facing free agency, he is a welcome addition.
3rd Round – Blake Bortles – QB – UCF
They were bound to take a quarterback at some point what with Marc Trestman as their new coach and Jay Cutler facing contract uncertainty. Getting Blake Bortles in the third round might be a steal based on how he’s played lately. The UCF star has showed of his clutch factor lately, keying comebacks over Louisville and Temple. He’s big, mobile, accurate and never seems uncomfortable in any situation. Trestman may find him the perfect project quarterback for the future.
4th Round – Danny Shelton – DT – Washington
Having gotten their interior pass rusher in the first round, Chicago switches to shoring up their horrendous run defense. Danny Shelton is an old school defensive tackle. He doesn’t get after the quarterback much, but his sheer size at 327 lbs makes it difficult for teams to run anywhere near him. It is his best feature and can give the Bears some young insurance and depth behind current nose tackle Stephen Paea.
5th Round – Bene Benwikere – CB – San Jose State
Zone corners don’t have to be outstanding cover men to succeed in the NFL. What they need are good instincts, toughness and at least enough athleticism to maintain decent coverage. San Jose State corner Bene Benwikere is a quality find in the 5th round. His game is a little rough around the edges but in a zone scheme he definitely fits. He’s averaged at least four tackles per game and has demonstrated his ball skills with five interceptions in 2013. The traits are there for a playmaker.
6th Round (from TB) – L’Damian Washington – WR – Missouri
The consummate Phil Emery pick. At 6’4″ L’Damian Washington already possesses a quality other Chicago Bears receivers share, which is size. Throw in his 4.39 speed and he brings something the team could really use on offense. Washington is not a polished receiver. He doesn’t fight well for contested catches and doesn’t have ideal bulk. Still, there is no denying his big play potential, having torched defenses repeatedly in 2013 on long pass plays. Learning behind Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, he could become a late round steal.
6th Round – Billy Turner – OT – North Dakota State
Aaron Kromer developed a reputation in New Orleans for turning late round offensive linemen into solid starters. It only makes sense that the Bears give him that same opportunity with them. Billy Turner is a naturally big athlete who displays a bit of a nasty streak out of North Dakota State. He still needs work on his overall technique, but the potential is there for him to become a starter when ready.
Photo Credit: WNN