Since the Senior Bowl, when Pittsburgh's Aaron Donald put on a show against the top competition in the country, he's been linked to the Chicago Bears. After losing Henry Melton to the Dallas Cowboys, most assumed the Bears would target Donald, an undersized 3-technique lineman who is disruptive shooting gaps.
Donald is only 6-1, 285, so there are concerns about him being too small to stop the run. Yet according to Bears GM Phil Emery, he doesn't believe those concerns are shared by the 13 teams picking in front of him.
When asked about the connection between the Bears and Donald, Emery laughed.
"I wouldn't count on that one," said Emery. "He's a very good player"
Donald has slowly risen up draft boards the past few months and is now considered by many analysts a Top-10 selection.
"When the dust has settled usually teams understand who the top 10 players in the draft are," Emery said. "It's a very interesting dynamic in the league, you'll see as the draft gets closer, the mock drafts get a little finer, just because they're talking to people in the league and they finally, everybody is finally agreed on who the top 10 or 12 players are. You'll see all those players all of a sudden, some of then are leaping from 18, 19 20, all of a sudden you'll start seeing them at 10 because people have talked enough, people are saying that's a really good player, that's a dynamic player, that's a difference-maker. All of a sudden some of these folks that have been back there, mock drafts hanging back there at 18-25 are all of a sudden in the top 12.
"They didn't rise, it's just the universal knowledge has been gained on who the top players in the draft are, so that's always an interesting dynamic to look at."
Chicago's defense would definitely benefit with the addition of Donald but so would the defenses of the seven teams directly ahead of Emery, all of whom run similar 4-3 schemes.
Emery discussed his desire to get bigger on both sides of the ball, a criteria Donald doesn't fit.
"If I had my druthers, bigger would be better. And we're a little bit orientated that way."
It makes you wonder, if Donald falls and he's available, will Emery select him at 14th overall? Most likely, we'll never the answer, as Donald could be out of the equation at that point.
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.