Draft day is here, and the Chicago Bears are hours away from being on the clock with the 20th overall pick in the first round (assuming they don't trade down). Who would our Bears writers take if they were running the war room at Halas Hall?
Michael C. Wright: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia
He added three offensive linemen in free agency, including starters Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson, and a pair of starting linebackers in James Anderson and D.J. Williams, while also addressing the rotation along the defensive line.
Now it's time for Bears general manager Phil Emery to bring in a difference maker on offense at one of the skill positions with the 20th pick for quarterback Jay Cutler or for the possibility of a future without him.
If he's there, I'd take West Virginia's Tavon Austin at 20. Tennessee's Cordarrelle Patterson works too, or perhaps one of the top tight ends in either Notre Dame's Tyler Eifert or Stanford's Zach Ertz, provided the Bears don't trade down. This draft class is deep enough at other positions such as the offensive line (center in particular), linebacker, defensive line and cornerback for the Bears to add an immediate contributor in the later rounds.
With a first-round pick, you want an impactful player for 2013, not one expected to play a key role a year or two down the road (see 2012 first rounder Shea McClellin).
The offensive line appears to be set for the most part, with training-camp competition expected to decide one or two of the other spots. Linebacker is set (even though all the starters' deals are up after 2013, it's important to remember contracts can always be extended). So is the defensive line. More than likely, any addition at these positions just provides depth.
With Cutler going into the final year of his contract, there's no guarantee the team will re-sign him beyond 2013. So by selecting a dynamic skill-position player, the Bears give Cutler a better chance to succeed and earn a lucrative contract extension. If Cutler isn't the quarterback moving forward, the team has at least stocked the offense with enough talent for the next guy to achieve at least a moderate level of success.
Jeff Dickerson: Alec Ogletree, LB, Georgia
In hindsight, the Bears probably wish they finished 6-10 last season instead of 10-6.
In a draft loaded with offensive talent in the top-15 picks, the Bears sit at No. 20, and probably out of the running the land one of the four tackles or two guards projected to come off the board earlier.
If the Bears were in the top 15, my choice would be easy: Alabama right tackle D.J. Fluker. To steal a phrase from Mike Singletary, "I want winners." But alas, the buzz is that Fluker will be long gone by the time the Bears go on the clock.
If that is indeed the case, the Bears might at the very least consider Syracuse OL Justin Pugh, Oregon OL Kyle Long or Florida State OT Menelik Watson. I believe the Bears view Pugh, whom the club just put through a private workout, as draftable somewhere between 20-50, but it's tough to pinpoint the exact spot. The Bears also took a closer look at Long in recent weeks, and some predict he's a sleeper first-round pick.
But there could be better value at linebacker or cornerback.
Washington's Desmond Trufant would be a worthy first-round choice for the Bears, although a couple of teams might be looking to move up a few spots to grab him. However, the Bears did work out several mid-round cornerbacks, so perhaps the club could wait until later to address the position.
Same with linebacker.
But the dilemma could come down to choosing between Trufant or Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree. I just can't wrap my mind around Manti Te'o at No. 20. Maybe I'll end up being wrong, but at least it'll be an honest swing and miss.
Trufant comes from a football family and seems to have it all together from a maturity and off-the-field standpoint.
Ogletree is a high-end athlete who has had off-the-field issues.
I'll always predict the Bears to select the superior athlete. In this case that's probably Ogletree.
Now, with all that being said, let's hope Emery finds a way to trade the pick.