The Chicago Bears invested $34.45 million guaranteed in defensive ends Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston and Willie Young in free agency, but it’s not guaranteed the team won’t continue to add at the position during the NFL draft, although now that possibility seems less likely.
It's worth noting the Bears also added veterans Israel Idonije, Trevor Scott and Austen Lane in free agency to bolster a corps of defensive ends that includes David Bass, Tracy Robertson and Cornelius Washington.
“We’re going to be involved in a drafting process here that there’s going to be a lot of young players,” Bears coach Marc Trestman said in February at the NFL combine. “They’re all going to be young players and they’re all, for the most part -- not all -- but for the most part, it’s going to be a defensive-oriented draft in terms of where we’re going. It all starts with, schematically in the offseason, with [us] putting in a system of football where we have to be able to stop the run first. Stopping the run isn’t just a first line of defense area, it’s all three areas. But certainly that’s a big part of it, and obviously we want to be able to rush the passer and create a pass rush with four guys. Everybody wants four guys rushing to be able to inhibit the quarterback from completing a throwing motion and disrupting in the pocket.”
The Bears believe they’ve found a solid group of starters to complete that task, but the club learned the hard way from last year’s rash of injuries that the roster can never contain too much depth; especially along the defensive line. So while it’s almost a certainty the Bears won’t use the No. 14 overall pick in the draft to select a defensive end, the club might still use a selection in the later rounds to bolster depth at the position.
If Chicago’s recent activity is any indication, defensive end doesn’t appear to be a priority for the team at this point. So far, none of the club’s official pre-draft visitors at Halas Hall have been defensive ends, and it’s believed the Bears haven’t worked out any players at that position during various pro days around the country.
Here’s a list of potential fits for the Bears at defensive end:
Five potential targets
Player, School, Projected Round
1. Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, 1
2. Dee Ford, Auburn, 1
3. Kony Ealy, Missouri, 1-2
4. Scott Crichton, Oregon State, 2
5. DeMarcus Lawrence, Boise State, 2
Position grade: A-