Round 1 (14th overall)
CB Darqueze Dennard, Michigan State
The Bears re-signed Pro Bowl cornerbacks Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, yet neither is a long-term option. Tillman is 32 and is signed for just one year, while Jennings is 29. The Bears should be fine at cornerback for one more year but the club will be in dire straits as early as next season if it doesn't address the position as quickly as possible, particularly when you face Calvin Johnson and Aaron Rodgers twice yearly.
Darqueze Dennard is easily the top cover corner in this year's draft. Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert may be more athletic but no cornerback in the nation was as effective a lock-down player as Dennard in 2013. He's a physical, confident corner who excels in press coverage. He has fluid hips, outstanding instincts and top-tier ball skills. Dennard smothered the opposing team's best receiver on a weekly basis last season, often making it look easy.
Some question Dennard's lack of top-end speed, yet his 4.51 40-yard dash at the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine was faster than both Seattle's Richard Sherman (4.54) and Cleveland's Joe Haden (4.57), widely considered two of the top cover corners in the league.
Dennard is a Day 1 starter who next year could serve as the Bears' nickelback while learning under the tutelage of Tillman. Once unleashed, Dennard would be a fixture on Chicago's defense for the next decade, which would be bad news for Megatron.
Round 2 (51st overall)
S Deone Buccanon, Washington State
With Major Wright and Chris Conte, the Bears had arguably the worst safety tandem in the NFL last season. Wright was not retained and Conte is in the final year of his rookie deal. The club invested in a number of safeties in free agency, yet none are guaranteed upgrades at the position.
Deone Buccanon is an in-the-box safety whose hard-hitting playing style would immediately upgrade Chicago's 32nd-ranked run defense. He has the strength and physicality to serve as a fourth linebacker, while also the speed and range to play center field. At the combine, his 4.49 40-yard dash and 19 bench press reps were both near the top of his position, demonstrating a unique balance of speed and power. When you throw in Buccanon's willingness to explode into opposing ball carriers, you have a player the Bears would be elated to grab in the second round as a plug-and-play starter.
Round 3 (82nd overall)
C Weston Richburg, Colorado State
Roberto Garza re-signed for one more season but he's 35 and is likely entering his last year in the NFL. The Bears need to find a long-term pivot player and Weston Richburg fits the bill.
Richburg started 50 games for the Rams and is a three-time All MWC selection. He's an experienced, intelligent offensive lineman who made all the line calls in college. He's not an explosive athlete but he's technically sound and is effective on the move, which would make him a great fit for Chicago's zone-blocking run system. If Richburg falls to the third round, GM Phil Emery might run to the podium to select him.
Round 4 (117th overall)
DT Caraun Reid, Princeton
Reid was highly productive as a three-time first-team All-Ivy League player for Princeton, racking up 20.5 career sacks. He's an explosive defensive tackle who can penetrate gaps and disrupt plays in the backfield. He's also relatively young – he entered college as a 17-year-old freshman – so he's still raw and has room to grow even further into his body.
Reid isn't a bona fide starter, which is why he'll be a mid-round pick, but as a situational pass rusher in a defensive line rotation like Chicago's, he can have value. And if he ever develops into the player many believe he can be, he'll go down as a fourth-round steal for the Bears.
Round 5 (156th overall)
QB Tom Savage, Pittsburgh
Jay Cutler signed a seven-year contract this offseason, so the Bears aren't in the market for a starting quarterback. Yet the club has no developmental signal caller in the pipeline. Considering head coach Marc Trestman's long history of success in molding quarterbacks – Josh McCown was his most recent project – the Bears would be wise to bring in a young player who can start from scratch with Trestman.
Tom Savage definitely looks the part. He's big, tall and strong, and has all the makings of a pure pocket passer at the next level. He transferred twice during his collegiate career, so he's adept at picking up new offenses on the fly. Savage has decent arm strength and has shown a lot of toughness during his career. He's the type of player Trestman would love to get his hands on.
Round 6 (183rd overall)
LB Kevin Pierre-Louis, Boston College
By the sixth round, special teams becomes the priority. NFL starters aren't typically found in the late rounds but productive team players can always be had on the third day of the draft. Linebackers in particular make great special teams players, as they often have the size/speed combination necessary to make an impact.
Kevin Pierre-Louis is one of the most athletic linebackers in this year's draft class. He absolutely tore up the combine, finishing first at his position in the 40-yard dash (4.51), second in the broad jump (10-8), and third in both the bench press (28) and vertical jump (39.0). He's not a polished linebacker and he may never develop into an every-down NFL defensive player but as a special teams ace, there are few players in this draft with as much potential as Pierre-Louis.
Round 6 (191st overall)
RB James Wilder, Florida State
Along with linebackers, running backs also tend to develop into strong special teams players. It just so happens the Bears are in the market for a backup running back, which makes James Wilder an ideal selection in the sixth round.
Wilder is the biggest running back in this year's class and he runs with power. Chicago struggled in short yardage last season and as a situational ball carrier, Wilder could help alleviate those problems. His size could also make him a valuable weapon for special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.