Ever since the 2011 NFL season ended, fans and analysts have been waiting for the NFL Draft. Luckily the first round takes place on Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET. This draft is very important for the Chicago Bears, considering its the first time since 2008 that they’ve had a first-round pick.
The offensive line allowed a league high 56 sacks last season, so the Bears need to come away with some solid offensive line prospects to shore up that weak line. The defensive line played pretty well, but Tommie Harris was released once the season ended, so a prospect should be added. Marvin Austin, Terrell McClain and Jurrell Casey are all possibilities.
Cornerback is an area of need with Charles Tillman not getting any younger and Tim Jennings disappointing in the playoffs. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are the only linebackers under contract for next season. Nick Roach, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Rod Wilson and Brian Iwuh are all free agents. The Bears need some young players in the mix at linebacker, look for a linebacker to be picked up in the draft.
Lastly, the Bears need wide receivers, but I don’t know if they will find that big time guy in this draft. They might take a shot at one in the later rounds, but don’t expect another steal like Johnny Knox to come up.
Chicago Bears needs: OL, DL, CB, LB, WR
1st Round (29th pick)- Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State
With so many good tackles in this years draft, the Bears would be lucky to land Sherrod at #29 near the end of the first-round.
Sherrod is a big tackle who has a long wingspan and arguably the biggest hands in the draft. Sherrod is considered pro ready and has the athleticism to play at left tackle. The only thing he really lacks is mental toughness. If the Bears could get Sherrod, that would dramatically improve the offensive line.
Analysis: If they can’t get him or another big time tackle, I think they would think about trading down considering most of the guys available then would have a second-round grade.
2nd Round (62nd pick)-Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia
Getting Dowling at #62 would be a flat out steal. This guy has everything you want in an NFL cornerback, size, speed and strength. The 6’2″ cornerback ran a 4.4 in his only 40 at the NFL Combine.
Dowling is an experienced corner, who is hard to beat over the top because of his height and long arms. He is considered to be a well respected teammate and a hard worker.
Analysis: The only negative with Dowling is his durability. He failed to stay healthy at Virginia last season suffering hamstring, ankle and knee injuries. Some NFL experts say he is big enough to play the safety position.
3rd Round (93rd pick)-Terrell McClain, DT, South Florida
McClain has been rising up mock draft boards and potentially could be a second-round pick. The defensive tackle position is very deep in this draft and McClain would be a nice fit in Lovie Smith’s defense. The 6’2″, 297-pounder was a first-team All-Big East selection last season.
McClain is a three-technique defensive tackle that the Bears desperately need with Tommie Harris out of the picture. The Bears have shown a lot of interest in this kid, so don’t be shocked if they scoop him up.
Analysis: He is an underrated tackle, who is short, stout and quick. His toughness and experience will help him gain some playing time in the Bears defensive tackle rotation.
4th Round (127th pick)-John Moffitt, G, Wisconsin
Moffitt would be a great selection at #127 for the Bears. Moffitt started 42 games in college was named a first-team All-American.
Moffitt would likely be in the running for a starting guard position, with Chris Williams possibly being moved back to right tackle and J’Marcus Webb being moved to left tackle. If the Bears could land Moffitt, they would be pleased. CBS Sports say Moffitt “could be a Pro Bowl steal in the middle rounds.”
Analysis: Moffitt has pretty solid quickness, mobility and footwork which would help him translate his game to the next level. He is a possible future replacement for Olin Kreutz (if he re-signs) at center, considering he started 13 games there in 2008.
5th Round (160th pick)-Thomas Keiser, OLB, Stanford
The Bears need linebackers. Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs are the only linebackers under contract for 2011-12 and they are getting up in age. Keiser could come in and contribute on special teams and possibly take over for Lance Briggs down the road.
The 6’5″ Keiser is said to be a good fit for a 3-4 team and is a solid pass rusher.
Analysis: Keiser started his career at Stanford as a defensive end, but he quickly switched to outside linebacker. He had some solid success in 38 games, Keiser was able to make 19 sacks. If the Bears don’t take Keiser here they will likely take a different linebacker at this spot considering the lack of depth they have at the position.
6th Round (195th pick)-Terrence Toliver, WR, LSU
The Bears are looking for that “big” receiver and Toliver could be a nice find in the sixth round. Toliver, who stands at 6’4″ might be a perfect complement to the receivers the Bears currently have.
Toliver racked up seven touchdowns during his senior season. He ran a 4.54 40 at the combine, but pulled his hamstring in the process. He had a solid combine playing through the hamstring injury, catching everything that came to him.
Analysis: Toliver has quick hands, solid acceleration and isn’t afraid of contact. He doesn’t always get separation from cornerbacks, but fights for those extra yards. Relies a little too much on his size at times.
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