Here is the latest installment of the Bears' weekly mailbag. Thank you to everyone who submitted questions. Please have a safe and enjoyable weekend.
Jeff Dickerson: DeForest Buckner. He is exactly what Chicago needs. At 6-foot-7, 287 pounds, Buckner can rush the quarterback and stop the run. He is one of the best overall talents in the draft class. The 2015 Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Buckner had 83 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss for Oregon in 2015. But here is the problem -- Buckner is not expected to last until the 11th pick. He's probably long gone by the time Chicago is on the clock.
@DickersonESPN barring another trade to shake up the draft, who do the Bears take at 11?— Jason Squires (@BarberSquires) April 20, 2016
JD: The draft is obviously fluid, Jason. There is no possible way to know for sure who the Bears eventually draft at No. 11. But I do believe there is a strong likelihood the team addresses the defense in Round 1. I do think the Bears have a high level of interest in Clemson's Shaq Lawson, who split time rushing the quarterback standing up and out of a three-point stance in college. I feel Lawson is a safe choice. He put up impressive numbers (12.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for loss) at a big-time program (Clemson) where Lawson played well versus elite competition (Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida State and Notre Dame). Lawson has zero character red flags. He'll never embarrass himself or the organization in front of the media. Lawson is also known to have a positive and energetic personality. I'm not saying the Bears definitely take Lawson, but someone is getting him in the top-20. Now, there are also solid cornerback prospects to consider at No. 11 too. The Bears can go in a variety of directions, but I feel defense is probably the smart play, unless one of the quarterbacks or Ezekiel Elliott drops to them.
JD: That's a good question. To me, Elliott falls under the category of best available player. If he's the No. 1 guy left on your board, take him. If Elliott is truly the most complete running back prospect since Adrian Peterson, then you do not hesitate to pull the trigger. Elliott makes the defense better just because the offense is more likely to be on the field for longer stretches of time. But again, the odds do not seem favorable that Elliott is around at No. 11.
JD: Not sure about that specific alignment, Greg. Goldman is 6-foot-4 and 336 pounds which makes him the purest nose tackle on the roster. Hicks measures in at 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, and is expected to rotate through multiple positions. Sheldon Rankins is by far the smallest of the trio at 6-foot-1 and 299 pounds. It's evident the Bears prefer larger and longer defensive linemen, which raises the question if Rankins is truly an option at No. 11. But Rankins is talented, and projected by most analysts to be drafted somewhere in the top 20. Rankins is probably athletic and versatile enough to play both end and nose in the 3-4, but specific to the Bears, he probably lines up outside in the base defense based on his body type.
JD: Here is what Ryan Pace said at the NFL scouting combine about Charles Leno: "I'm confident in Leno. I thought he got better as the season went on and I do think that Leno is a natural left tackle. That's his best spot. He's a natural left tackle." That's not to say the Bears absolutely will not draft an offensive tackle at No. 11, but it seems more likely the club takes a defensive lineman, edge rusher or cornerback. Leno has a bright future (24 years old with 14 career starts) and is under contract through 2017 at an extremely affordable price; Chicago drafted Leno in the seventh round in 2014. He is exactly the type of player the Bears want to develop. Isn't that why Chicago spent so much money on the coaching staff?