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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.


Need No. 2--Free safety

Players on roster

FS Josh Bullocks (signed through 2009)
S Craig Steltz (2011)
S Glenn Earl (2009)
S/CB Danieal Manning (2009)
S/CB Zack Bowman (2011)

Need

The Bears thought they were selecting an athletic safety with the skills to man the position for some time when they used their first pick in 2006 on Manning. He's started 28 games at the position and that has been enough for them to determine he's not a fit for them there. The most athletic member of the secondary gets caught out of position too often and part of the problem has its roots in the coaching staff's desire to move him all over the defensive backfield. The Bears are content now leaving him at nickel cornerback where he started last year and excelled after coach Lovie Smith took over the position. Smith is adding that position to his growing list of job titles and that is probably a good thing. It's too bad because Manning has proven to be durable and that is one trait the team has not been able to find at safety. Bullocks figures to be the man for the job right now. A former second-round pick, he had a nice rookie season in New Orleans but from there the progress stalled. The hope is that new surroundings will make a difference for him, and he looked good in minicamp, but the easiest way to judge a team's faith in a player is by his contract. Bullocks has a modest one-year deal.

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Cornerback or free safety?

That is the question teams have to kick around when they consider Sherrod Martin. Versatility is a good thing to have and the Troy defensive back is an intriguing prospect for a number of reasons, not the least of which is his 6-1, 198-pound frame and the 4.38-second time he turned in for the 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

Consider Martin the latest in a line of productive NFL players that are coming out of the Alabama program. DeMarcus Ware, Osi Umenyiora and Leodis McKelvin have gotten the attention of scouts in recent years and now the Sun Belt school is a can't-miss stop.

"It's a big help,'' Martin said of the players who came before him. "But you have to be able to play the game. It just shows that those guys are competitive players and real talented and Troy is producing guys who can play in the NFL. It's on the map.''

The Bears certainly didn't miss Martin. As we reported here, the Bears put Martin through a private workout on campus April 3. It was one of four workouts Martin has had. He's also taken two official visits to AFC teams, and he's expected to be selected in the second or third rounds. New secondary coach Jon Hoke put Martin through the workout and then they went to the classroom where they did some X's and O's work on the board before watching film and talking about the difference in schemes.

Need No. 7--Strong safety

Players on roster

SS Kevin Payne (signed through 2010)
S Craig Steltz (2011)
S Glenn Earl (2009)

Need

Make no mistake about it, this is a big season for Payne. Entering the third year of his contract, he has the opportunity to play so well that the Bears will be motivated to talk extension with him at this time next year. If he doesn't play well, the Bears could be exploring new options come 2010. Payne played well at strong safety last season, which is where he started the year before a change was made to benefit departed veteran Mike Brown. Payne had double-digit tackles, including a season-high 15 on Oct. 19 vs. Minnesota--in six of the first 10 games before the move. Payne was out of position at free safety and the idea that the positions are interchangeable is a stretch. There are some durability concerns with him. He missed most of his rookie season with a broken arm that required surgery. He had shoulder surgery after this past season.

Nolan Nawrocki over at Pro Football Weekly, the guy who puts together one of the finest draft guides there is, has a terrific draft value chart that is worth looking at.

It provides a good glimpse at where some of the players the Bears have been scouting the last few weeks are forecasted to go, as well as some other information. Nawrocki updated it today and it reflects some of the sentiment around the league that North Carolina wide receiver Hakeem Nicks could be falling. One source we spoke to Monday said he didn't expect Nicks to be on the board when the Bears select at No. 49 in the second round, but he wouldn't rule it out after concerns about Nicks multiplied when he showed up out of shape on his pro day.

Nawrocki's chart has three levels for each round--A, B and C. A is for players in the top-third of the round, B is for players in the middle of the round and C is for players in the bottom third of the round. He has Nicks at 2B with the arrow pointing down. The Bears' pick is the 17th of the round, so that indicates Nawrocki believes he will be coming off the board right around where the Bears are at.

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Some teams like Sherrod Martin as a cornerback but he would probably fit the Bears best as a safety.

They'll go in and get a better look when they put the Troy defensive back through a private workout on Friday at the school, the Sun-Times has learned.

Martin is big for a cornerback at 6-1, 198 pounds, and he's only been gaining momentum since a strong showing at the scouting combine followed by a strong pro day performance last month.

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