Analyzing the Bears' first-round options

An inside look at the players, rumors and draft-day trades the Chicago Bears are considering with the 7th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

We’re finally inside a week away from the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and the rumors are flying in full force. Each year, the great debate for each team and its fan base concerns what should they do with their first-round pick?

After a 5-11 season, the Chicago Bears sit at pick seven, which is the highest they’ve drafted since 2005, where they selected running back Cedric Benson with the fourth overall pick.

From the 2005 draft until now, the Bears have had three separate seasons with no first round pick and two of those in which they also didn’t have their second rounder as well. In that timeframe, the team has selected just one player that has gone on to make the Pro Bowl with the team, Kyle Long.

2005: RB Cedric Benson, Texas
2007: TE Greg Olsen, Miami
2008: OL Chris Williams, Vanderbilt
2011: OL Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin
2012: LB Shea McClellin, Boise State
2013: OL Kyle Long, Oregon
2014 CB Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech

Since 2009, the Bears have selected a defensive player with at least two of their first three picks. Couple that with the team’s defense finishing bottom 10 the past two seasons and a defensive selection at number seven seems logical and all but a given, right?

Not so fast.

First-round prospects with whom the Bears have met:

QB Jameis Winston, Florida State
QB Marcus Mariota, Oregon
WR Amari Cooper, Alabama
WR Kevin White, West Virginia
WR DeVante Parker, Louisville
WR Breshad Perriman, Central Florida
OLB Dante Fowler, Florida
OLB Vic Beasley, Clemson
OLB Alvin Dupree, Kentucky
OLB Shane Ray, Missouri
OLB Randy Gregory, Nebraska
DT Danny Shelton, Washington
CB Trae Waynes, Michigan State
CB Byron Jones, Connecticut
DE Mario Edwards, Florida State
OT T.J. Clemmings, Pittsburgh
OT D.J. Humphries, Florida
RB Todd Gurley, Georgia

Big board of possibilities at 7th overall

QB Marcus Mariota

From all accounts, Mariota may be the most coveted prospect in this draft for the Bears. With that being said, the likelihood of him making it to seven is very slim. According to a source close to the team, first-year general manager Ryan Pace has him graded as the best quarterback in both this and next year’s draft. If the former Heisman winner makes it to seven or anywhere close, expect Pace to pull the trigger.

OLB Dante Fowler

Fowler seems to be the consensus top edge rusher with Randy Gregory’s character concerns outweighing his potential. Multiple rumors have been linked to Fowler and the Jacksonville Jaguars, as even Fowler has said he’d be “shocked” if he wasn’t selected third overall. If he does make it past the Jaguars and Beasley or Dupree are seen as better fits before the Bears pick at seven, Fowler would be a welcome addition.

WR Amari Cooper

Last year’s receiver class was next-to-none but this year’s group could follow closely behind. Some have projected as many as 10 receivers taken in the first round and a half this year. Standing at the top of this year’s class is Cooper, who experienced a steady flow of production in his time at Alabama. The soon-to-be-21-year-old projects anywhere from a top three pick all the way to an early teens selection if he slips. The Bears are coming off the heels of trading away top receiver Brandon Marshall and are in need of another top pass catcher. It remains to be seen if Cooper will make it past Oakland at pick four, even with the recent one-year deal of Michael Crabtree.

OLB Vic Beasley

As a pure pass rusher, Beasley may be the best coming out of this year’s draft. Concerns about his overall size were put to rest at the combine with a 243-pound weigh in. His first step is second-to-none in this class and it showed in his overall college numbers with two consecutive years of 10 plus sacks and a total of 52.5 tackles-for-loss. The Bears don’t currently have a pure pass rusher that is expected to be on the roster past the 2015 season, which makes Beasley that much more appealing if he’s there.

WR Kevin White

White has gained a ton of steam since his stellar combine showing. At 6-3 and a 4.35 40-time on his resume, his upside may be as high as anyone’s in the draft. There’s still debate as to which receiver will be first off the board but if White is still there when the team picks, Pace could opt to go with his high upside and potential production to match.

Sleepers

DT Danny Shelton

Shelton may be one most highly debated first round talents. Once projected to go as high as fifth to the Redskins and now as low as the 20s. The Bears have shown serious interest in Shelton, meeting with him twice. He may not be a sexy pick or the best player available on most people’s boards but Shelton would be an ideal pick for a team transitioning to a 3-4 front.

OT Andrus Peat

What’s the biggest difference in this year’s draft compared to years past? The lack of a consensus number one offensive lineman and maybe the absence of a top 10 offensive-line pick. According to a source close to the team, the Bears have serious interest in Peat but are not sure he’s worth a Top 10 pick. He’s not an ideal selection at 7th overall and may not even be a Top 3 offensive lineman in this class but it’s worth the reminder that Kyle Long was a projected second-round pick as well.

DE Arik Armstead

Armstead is yet another player that isn’t a consensus top 15 pick that could easily slip into the top 10 and maybe all the way to seven. He has a world of ability and the measurables to match but his biggest issue is the lack of consistency in his production. Armstead is still very young and a large human being that is capable of J.J. Watt-type success, but will take the right coaching staff to un-tap that talent.

Draft-Day Trades

Each year, draft day trades are a popular topic. With the Bears sitting at 7th overall, there is trade value in moving down but would still be costly to move up.

Click Here to View the Draft-Day Trade Value Chart

In looking at the Top 10 picks, there is a vast difference in value between the top three picks from where the Bears currently sit, which is why a trade up to field a quarterback may not be in the cards.

TRADING UP

For instance, if the team traded up to number two (2,600), there’s a 1,100-point difference, which could be made up by trading a high-quality player or most likely a future 1st-round pick. If Pace was not willing to do either one of those two, the team could trade all of their 2015 picks and still come up 200 pts short on “equal value” according to this chart. Another option would be a trade up to four, which would be a 300-point difference. In this scenario the team could either part with their 2015 second and third (235) and a future third or this year’s third and either a 2016 fourth or a 2015 fifth and sixth.

Trading up options could include: Marcus Mariota, Amari Cooper, Leonard Williams, and possibly Dante Fowler or Vic Beasley.

TRADING DOWN

Let’s say the Miami Dolphins at 14 (1,100), want to trade up for a receiver, they would need to make up 400 points to make the trade happen according to this chart. In order to do so, their second round pick (430) and the swap of a mid-round pick could get it done.

An unrealistic scenario would be the Cleveland Browns trading both their 12th (1,200) and 19th (875) for the Bears’ 7th (1,500) pick, which leaves (575) points, which is also enough value to account for the 33rd overall pick.

Trade-down options could be headlined by Breshad Perriman, Danny Shelton, Trae Waynes, Alvin Dupree or Arik Armstead.

Other draft tidbits

Judging by what I’ve heard, I would be very surprised if the Bears didn’t take a receiver within the first two rounds of the draft.

It’s worth noting that the team has met all the early round edge rushers and receivers.

Fox and Fangio could look to take a defensive back with corner experience to convert to a free safety. Byron Jones, Eric Rowe, P.J. Williams, and Josh Shaw all fit that bill.

QB searching? The team has meet with four out of the five QBs in the class, including Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty and Garrett Grayson.

Running back isn’t as big of a need as most believe. The Bears could opt to bargain hunt in the later rounds or wait on the undrafted class.

If the team drafts an edge rusher early, Fangio could slide either Lamarr Houston or Pernell McPhee into the starting 5-technique role.

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Aaron Leming has years of salary cap knowledge and has written for Rant Sports, Bears Draft On Tap, and Cover 32. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report.

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