LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery has a short list of candidates he expects to be available with the 14th pick in next week's draft.
Six players, to be precise.
"I'd be happy that two out of the six were on the board at our pick, and I'd be ecstatic if three out of the six were on the board at our pick," Emery said Thursday.
The Bears went 8-8 last season and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years, hurt by a defense that ranked among the league's worst.
Emery has spent the offseason overhauling that group, bringing in Jared Allen and parting ways with Julius Peppers. The makeover figures to continue in the draft even though Emery would not rule out going with an offensive player at No. 14.
The most obvious holes, though, are on defense.
The Bears still could use help on the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. Assuming they go with a defensive player — and assuming they keep the pick — the options at 14 could include Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, Alabama free safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert.
Dropping back a few spots could give the Bears more selections, and Emery said he has been fielding calls from teams looking to move up.
"Just say in theory you go down six picks," Emery said. "That means you have to count your pick you're giving up is one, and if you're going to pick six picks later, you have to have six players on the board that have that graded value that you're comfortable taking. ... So if you don't have that number of players you feel good about you shouldn't trade."
Emery also indicated that trading up is unlikely.
"Trade ups are expensive, obviously, and you just have to feel like that that player you're trading up for makes a dynamic difference in your team," he said.
The Bears have already made plenty of noise this season.
They made a huge splash when they signed Allen, hoping the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end energizes a defense that ranked 30th overall and last against the run. He had 11 ½ sacks last season, his seventh straight in double figures, and is a solid run defender.
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