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Chicago Bears 2014 Draft Preview

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Updated: 5/01 12:16 pm

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Bears rebooted things before last season, firing veteran defensive-minded head coach Lovie Smith and bringing in an offensive guy, Marc Trestman, to build a 21st century scoring unit around talented but enigmatic signal-caller Jay Cutler.

It worked and it didn't work. Trestman did build a tremendous offense which succeeded whether Cutler or veteran backup Josh McCown, who is now in Tampa Bay, was on the field thanks in large part to the dynamic receiving duo of Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall, along with a rebuilt offensive line.

The defense, however, tanked without Smith and veteran middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, turning on a dime from the most opportunistic group in the league to a unit incapable of stopping just about anyone.

This time around rebuilding the defensive side of things is paramount in the Windy City and additions at all three levels make sense.

The Bears would love to see the ultra-talented but undersized Pitt under tackle Aaron Donald fall to them at No. 14 overall but that likelihood grows dimmer and dimmer by the day so keep a sharp eye on Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton- Dix, the best safety in the draft who has the range and ball skills to be a playmaker early in his career.

"When you look at the Bears, I start at the safety position," NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. "I think when you watched them play last year, that stood out to me on the defensive side of the ball. There was a lot of issues, but the safety position, both in the run, guys taking poor angles to the alley, missing tackles, and then lack of instinct in the back end, the ball sailing over their heads.

"I think you start with the safety position, and where they're picking, I think they'll have shot at one of those top two guys, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix from Alabama and Calvin Pryor from Louisville."

2013 Record: 8-8

Top Needs: S, DT, CB

First Three Picks: No. 14, No. 51, No. 82

Number of Selections: 7 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 6)

CALLING THE SHOTS: General manager Phil Emery will be entering his third season as the personnel chief in Chicago and his resume has been a mixed bag. This could be the make-or-break year for him when grading on the defensive side of things.

RECENT FIRST ROUND HISTORY: 2013 - Kyle Long (OG, Oregon); 2012 - Shea McClellin (DE, Boise State); 2011 - Gabe Carimi (OT, Wisconsin); 2010 - none; 2009 - none; 2008 - Chris Williams (OT, Vanderbilt); 2007 - Greg Olsen (TE, Miami-Florida); 2006 - none; 2005 - Cedric Benson (RB, Texas); 2004 - Tommie Harris (DT, Oklahoma); 2003 - Michael Haynes (DE, Penn State), Rex Grossman (QB, Florida); 2002 - Marc Colombo (OT, Boston College).

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