Time to get down to projections. Mock drafts are fun and provide plenty of fodder for discussion. When it comes to projecting to No. 49 and then to No. 99, where the Bears are selecting, that's madness. But we're going to give it a shot. First, our wild guess at the top 10.
1. Detroit, Matthew Stafford. Hey, we got one right.
2. St. Louis, Jason Smith. Didn't take long to replace Orlando Pace.
3. Kansas City, Tyson Jackson. This is what you call a selection in no-man's land.
4. Seattle, Aaron Curry. The Seahawks' defense got bad in a hurry.
5. Cleveland, Mark Sanchez. As much buzz as there is with him, he has to be drafted in the top 5, right?
6. Cincinnati, Andre Smith. Bengals get the lineman scouts believe is the most talented.
7. Oakland, Jeremy Maclin. Elite ability as a return man gives him the edge over Michael Crabtree.
8. Jacksonville, Michael Crabtree. Jaguars badly need some help at this position.
9. Green Bay, Malcom Jenkins. Packers need some youth in secondary and get the draft's best defensive back.
10. San Francisco, Brian Orakpo. The Niners get a pass rusher.
Now, let's get to business with the Bears' picks. The whole issue here is what kind of combination of players general manager Jerry Angelo can get with his first two selections. He and coach Lovie Smith have talked about the expectation for players to come in and contribute immediately and they're looking at these first two picks for that. Knowing that makes it easier for us to target positions--wide receiver on offense and defensive line and secondary on defense. Could someone emerge from elsewhere? Sure, if the Bears have a really strong grade on someone that is too good to pass up, but to project that we could be here from now until the Bears are on the clock about 24 hours from now and not hit on the right guy.
College scouting director Greg Gabriel talks in terms of a combination of players and by that he means what kind of receiver can the Bears get at 49 vs. 99? What is the difference at other positions? For weeks now we have hashed and rehashed the different receivers and defensive backs that could be in play for the Bears. It's been more difficult turning up defensive linemen that could be options. The Bears have a specific profile they seek. Missouri defensive tackle Ziggy Hood is an interesting guy. At end, it's hard to find a player that looks like a fit. Georgia Tech's Michael Johnson doesn't look like a match. Utah's Paul Kruger might not be enough of a pass rusher. It will be interesting to see what impact new line coach Rod Marinelli has on the process.
So let's go over some possible combinations. One source said he expects some downward pressure on receivers in this draft. In other words, he says Maclin, Crabtree and Percy Harvin might be the only wide receivers to go in the first round. If that happens, you'll see a rush on wideouts early in the second round and it's a matter of waiting to see what falls to the 17th pick and the Bears at 49. Among Darrius Heyward-Bey, Hakeem Nicks, Kenny Britt, Brian Robiskie and Mohamed Massaquoi, how many slip through to the Bears?
How does this look?
No. 49--Mohamed Massaquoi, WR, Georgia
No. 99--Sherrod Martin, CB, Troy
I don't know if Martin goes that far down the board, but by the time the Bears would come back on the clock the safeties they could target at No. 49--Missouri's William Moore and Oregon's Patrick Chung--could be long gone.
Let's say there isn't a push down the board on wide receivers and all the ones we've mentioned above are gone. Badly needing a wide receiver, do the Bears select the ninth wideout in the top 49 picks, or do they go elsewhere?
No. 49--William Moore, S, Missouri
No. 99--Kevin Ogletree, WR, Virginia
The Bears like Oklahoma's Juaquin Iglesias, but there is a big gap between 49 and 99 and he'll likely go in there. Florida's Louis Murphy could be off the board by then. It's a roll of the dice.
So, what's your combination of players for the Bears with the first two picks?
We'll get to Four Down Territory here in a little bit and then we're going to take a little break.