Bears should have ample choices to fit pressing need

If they keep No. 19 pick worthy prospects should be around at defensive end, defensive tackle, offensive line and wide receiver

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The Bears will be at the mercy of the 18 teams picking ahead of them in the first round Thursday when the NFL draft begins, the quality of players available and their own evaluations.

But if everything flows the way it might in general manager Phil Emery's pleasant dreams, the Bears still will end up with a player who can force other teams to beg for mercy.

These positions appear to be the Bears' best first-round options, based on the draft's strengths and their needs.

Defensive end: The Bears' primary need matches up conveniently with what is the strength of the first round.

South Carolina's Melvin Ingram almost certainly will be off the board when the Bears are to pick. At least one other, maybe two others, also are likely to be gone.

Not including Ingram, there are at least five defensive ends considered worthy of the 19th selection, according to a consensus of front office men.

That pool includes Whitney Mercilus of Illinois, Nick Perry of USC, Courtney Upshaw of Alabama, Quinton Coples of North Carolina and Shea McClellin of Boise State. The late-rising Chandler Jones of Syracuse also would be a possibility.

The first-round wild card of the defensive ends is Coples. He easily is the most gifted, but his uneven effort is likely to see him fall, maybe to 19.

Coples aside, the defensive end who might fit the Bears best is Mercilus. He isn't as big and stout as some of the others, and he hasn't had as much sustained production as some, but Mercilus arguably could provide more speed and athleticism off the edge than any end in this draft.

With so many teams wanting a pass rusher, however, there is a chance the best could be picked clean before the Bears get a chance.

Threats to spoil their draft party are the Jaguars, Panthers, Seahawks, Cardinals, Cowboys, Eagles, Jets, Bengals and Chargers.

Defensive tackle: Fletcher Cox of Mississippi State will be long gone at 19. Dontari Poe of Memphis also is likely to be off the board.

But there is a chance Michael Brockers of Louisiana State could be available. He would be an excellent pick.

Two other tackles who fit the Bears' scheme who could be late first-round considerations are Jerel Worthy of Michigan State and Kendell Reyes of Connecticut.

Offensive linemen: The Bears pretty much can count on Matt Kalil of USC and Riley Reiff of Iowa being gone at 19. That could leave them with their pick among Georgia's Cordy Glenn and Stanford teammates Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro.

Martin is a tackle, DeCastro is a guard and Glenn can play either position.

If Emery, in fact, is looking for a player who can help right away, DeCastro is considered the most NFL-ready. The merits of taking a guard at 19 over a player who can make big plays that affect third downs is debatable, however.

Martin is not very polished, but his potential is intriguing. The 19th pick probably is too high for him.

Wide receiver: There is likely only one receiver worthy of the Bears' pick who should be available at 19 — Kendall Wright of Baylor.

He is the consensus third best receiver in the draft after Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State and Michael Floyd of Notre Dame, neither of whom is expected to be around in the late teens.

The Bears are picking too high to give serious consideration to Stephen Hill of Georgia Tech.

Other position possibilities would be linebacker, cornerback and tight end but they don't seem to be strong possibilities.

It's likely the only way the Bears would select a linebacker is if Boston College's Luke Kuechly fell to them, and that is a long shot.

As for cornerbacks, the top two, Morris Claiborne of Louisiana State and Stephon Gilmore of South Carolina, are expected to be off the board at 19. If that's the case, it is unlikely the Bears would be interested in Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick.

The only tight end worthy of first-round consideration is Coby Fleener of Stanford, and he is not expected to be taken as high as the Bears are choosing.

Most of the signs point to the Bears selecting a player who can improve the pass rush in the first round. And that should please a lot of people, though perhaps not Aaron Rodgers.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei
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