Replacing Kellen Davis

As any Bears fan knows, tight end Kellen Davis will never be a consistent pass-catching threat. Which is why the team needs to be targeting these five tight ends in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery is the man in charge up at Halas Hall. Make no mistake, when it comes time to make personnel decisions, those choices are left up to Emery.

Under his watch, letting go a solid tight end in Greg Olsen because he doesn't fit an antiquated offensive scheme won't happen. Emery made that abundantly clear when he spoke about the conversation he had with new coach Marc Trestman and how he views the draft.

"The ability to adapt to players; we had great discussions about the draft and the draft process," said Emery. "The first question that Marc asked me was, ‘For you, when you're drafting players, is it the best player or the best system-fit player?' I said, ‘Absolutely it's the best player; you want the best player that can transcend schemes, that has a skill set that will work out and will be able to progress as a player regardless of the scheme.' He said ‘Good, if I'm the head football coach, let's do that, because I can take those players and we'll take their skill sets and we can adapt to what they do best so that we can win.' That's a very attractive quality, and he's demonstrated it."

On offense, the Bears need to add more production at the third wide receiver spot, yet the obvious and most glaring need exists at the tight end position.

During the 2012 season Kellen Davis was absolutely dreadful and has likely earned himself a one-way ticket out of town. According to Pro Football Focus (PFF) he had the highest drop rate among tight ends in the NFL. As a result, the Bears will look to add more talent in the draft.

Fortunately for Chicago there are five tight ends in this draft that could come in and make an immediate contribution on offense. If the Bears grab any one of these players, the production at the TE position would go up immensely.

First we look at the obvious suspects, tight ends Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame and Zach Ertz of Stanford. Two players with down-the-field ability, good size and a willingness to block.

Both Eifert and Ertz are first-round talents the Bears could target at the 20th overall spot in the draft.

Eifert is a senior who measures 6-6, 251 and runs like a gazelle. He's not lumbering like Davis; he's fluid, athletic and can make plays in the open field. He's shown the ability to go up and get the football at its highest point; and with his superb hands, he can snatch it out of the air.

Eifert will immediately become one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL. He's a wide receiver in a tight end's body, who is willing to muck it up in the trenches. He's going to be a matchup nightmare for linebackers because of his speed, and he's far too big for safeties. For the Bears, Eifert would be an immediate red-zone target because he has the ability to go up and attack the football.

If Eifert is there at the 20th overall spot, you sprint to the podium with the card in hand to make him a part of the Chicago Bears.

Stanford's Ertz is essentially an Eifert clone. He's listed at 6-6, 251 and has the same combination of size and natural athleticism.

Ertz is sneaky fast. He doesn't look like he has wheels but before you know it he's by you, down the field and hauling in a big catch. He has already played in a pro-style offense with Stanford, where he learned the West Coast system under former Bears QB coach Pep Hamilton.

Ertz is a player that would immediately provide another weapon down the seams for Jay Cutler. He would lessen Brandon Marshall's load and give Marc Trestman options in the passing game that don't currently exist. Another willing blocker, Ertz will stick his nose into the crown of a defensive end's helmet as a run blocker and is an ideal edge setter.

The next two tight ends aren't as well-rounded as Ertz and Eifert but are very solid options the Bears should target in the second round: Jeff Reed of Florida and Gavin Escobar of San Diego State.

Reed is probably the most athletically gifted of any of the tight ends in this draft, but he is also the most inexperienced, having played quarterback in high school. He is very fast and runs like a wide receiver, with near equivalent speed to the position. He's also the smallest of the five tight ends in this profile (6-4, 245).

Reed is very raw for the position but shows a lot of natural ability. He has a very high ceiling and, with time, could turn into a player similar to Shannon Sharpe or Keith Jackson. Reed shows a willingness to block but with his size, it's debatable how well he can set the edge against bigger defensive ends or 3-4 outside linebackers at the next level. Reed is not the most pro-ready tight end but with the right coaching, he could be the most dynamic receiving threat of this group.

Another prospect that looks the part and could make a push to be the third tight end taken in the draft is San Diego State's Gavin Escobar.

Escobar is another junior entry into the NFL draft. He's a bit of an unknown because he played in the Mountain West and he's a third-year junior. Some may say that Escobar could benefit from another year in college, given the players ahead of him, but there is no doubt he's NFL ready.

He's a natural athlete for the position. He has a 6-6, 255-pound frame and the speed necessary to get down the field. There's no reason to believe Escobar wouldn't have been the first TE off the board in the 2014 draft, but he chose to come out early.

Escobar is another very well-balanced tight end with the size, speed and strength NFL team's like to see at the position. He has what it takes to be both a receiver and a blocker at the next level. He's not one-dimensional in the least and may be an option in the second round if the Bears have an offensive lineman they really like fall into their laps in the first.

Lastly we come to Cincinnati TE Travis Kelce (6-6, 260). Kelce is not as athletic as the other four tight ends; he's not as fast nor as quick out of his breaks. He possesses average speed for the position and good hands.

Kelce is an NFL-level TE, but he may wind up being nothing more than average for the position. There are questions about his ability get open in the pros, something with which Kellen Davis has struggled mightily.

To put it simply, Kelce would be an upgrade over Davis, but wouldn't be the difference maker the other four tight ends could potentially be. He would be an option in the passing game, just not the same extra dimension as the other prospects.

The tight end position is pretty deep for the 2013 NFL Draft class. There's very good options at the top and the middle of the draft, with five legit players that would provide an instant upgrade for the Bears.

Emery will likely be in a strong position to upgrade a big weakness on offense. He needs to capitalize on that opportunity.


Brett Solesky has worked in TV, newspapers and, for the last seven years, in radio. He also co-hosts the best Chicago Bears podcast on the Web, Bear Report Radio, which appears on BearReport.com and his blog MidwayIllustrated.com.

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