Bears general manager Phil Emery said he and his staff are targeting ''a core of about seven players'' with the 19th overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night. But after trading for Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Marshall, Emery indicated the Bears could go in many directions with that pick.
''What we've done in free agency really allows us a chance to go one way or the other,'' Emery said Monday at a pre-draft press conference at Halas Hall. ''We can draft into a perceived strength so that we make sure we get the player that's going to help us win a championship the quickest way possible. Or we can go and fill maybe what we perceive as a need. So it has given us great flexibility.''
The Bears' biggest needs are generally considered to be at defensive end, offensive line, wide receiver, defensive tackle and cornerback. But Emery didn't rule anything out. ''We're very oriented towards finding the player that's going to get us there the fastest,'' he said.
Defensive end continues to be the favored area of emphasis in mock drafts. Illinois' Whitney Mercilus and USC's Nick Perry and North Carolina's Quinton Coples are among the ends some mock drafts have the Bears selecting.
SI.com's Peter King said the Bears should take Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, but says they will take Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright in the first round. ''Coach Lovie Smith had dinner with Wright at Baylor's pro day in March and I hear he was impressed,'' King wrote.
Emery didn't divulge any information about players the Bears might draft, but said ''this is a good draft for wideouts, defensive ends and tackles. It's a good draft for projecting offensive tackles to guards. There's a good number of offensive tackles you can project inside. There's a fairly good number of guys who have versatility, O-tackle to O-guard.
"I think where you see some weakness are the total number of running backs, from rounds 1-7 ... where they don't balance out and are a little bit behind. The top of the center draft is a little low with respect to number of players taken each round.''
Emery said the Bears could move up or down in the first round and teams have called him inquiring about a trade that would allow the Bears to do either.
''[There are a] couple of things to consider when you look at trading up the board -- moving up, going from 19 to 14 or 13, 15, 16, the one in front of you,'' he said. ''Before you do that, you always want to write down what you just gave up and who that player could become for you.
''Say to move up two or three slots, it would cost us a third-rounder. Who is that player that we just gave up to ensure ourselves to get this player in the first round? And what impact will that have on our team and our ability to continue to build a championship team?''
''We'll do whatever it takes for us to get the best players that we feel can get us the closest to the championship in the fastest way possible,'' he said. ''There is a sense of urgency. We want to be as good as we can be this year. And moving forward. Obviously we want to get players here that have a shelf-life, that we are going to see here seven, eight, nine years down the road. But we also want to move and get to the players we feel can help us the most.
And if that means trading up, that's a good option versus the risk involved,
then yes. If that means moving back, and we feel good about that player list
moving back, then yes, we would do that. We wouldn't hesitate.''