The NFL draft starts Thursday and the Bears have the 20th overall pick. Sports editor Jon Styf and columnist Tom Musick discuss the Bears’ next move.
Styf: I can’t say it enough, the Bears can’t keep ignoring the defense. Yes, Jay Cutler and the offensive line are issues. But the defense needs addressing. It’s what they’re built on, or they should be. I am not saying they should pick Manti Te’o to fill an obvious hole. But they should go defense.
Musick: It seems counterintuitive, seeing that the Bears finished No. 5 in total defense last season and No. 28 in total offense, but I agree with you. The Bears need to get younger and faster on defense, particularly at linebacker. Manti Te’o lacks elite speed, but Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree would be a perfect fit if he is available at No. 20. Here’s the downside: He comes with some off-the-field issues.
Styf: That’s also why he might be available there. NFL teams have to take chances. I’m not big on trading down, as the Bears have hinted they are open to do. It becomes so much more difficult to get that kind of elite player when you start going down in the draft. You are forced to take more chances on guys. I think that’s fine if we’re talking about quarterback or receiver help, but you need elite athletes to truly succeed, not just fill temporary needs.
Musick: I should take more chances. I tend to order the same meal when I go out to eat. If I can’t take a $15 risk, how can I expect Phil Emery to take a $15 million risk? As far as trading down, if I were Emery, I would be reluctant to do so unless somebody offered a high second-rounder plus a third-rounder. The Bears have needs at several spots – linebacker, offensive line, defensive line, tight end and quarterback to name a few – and an extra mid-round pick could come in handy.
Styf: Everyone’s a risk on some level. If I’m the Bears, I’d be intrigued by picking Matt Barkley or Landry Jones at QB as well, especially in the case that you’re trading down and one of them is the extra player you get out of moving down. In that case, I’d come away happy if I’m the Bears. Cutler has to realize the Bears are preparing to do that. Hopefully, he doesn’t react like he did when Denver even discussed replacing him.
Musick: Another quarterback to watch is Florida State’s E.J. Manuel, especially if he slips to the middle rounds. Cutler turns 30 years old in eight days – I can’t believe he hasn’t invited me to his party – and he has won all of one playoff game in his NFL career. Maybe he’ll be grumpy if the Bears draft a quarterback, but maybe that (extra) grumpiness will help make him better.
Styf: The grumpiness has always helped him. It’s why he’s so beloved by fans everywhere. And it’s the reason Kristen Cavallari’s fine having him mail her an engagement ring. If only everything in life were that easy.