Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s seven-year run in New Orleans Saints’ front office featured something peculiar, thanks to penalties from the Bountygate scandal and a trade. Over that span, the Saints only drafted three players in the second round, the best one being current Bears cornerback Tracy Porter in 2008.
Coach John Fox, meanwhile, had his hits and misses in Round 2 over his four years with Denver Broncos. The Broncos drafted starters in safety Rahim Moore, guard Orlando Franklin and defensive tackle Derek Wolfe in Fox’s first two years, before taking two busts, running back Montee Ball in 2013 and receiver Cody Latimer in 2014.
In other words, it will be interesting to see what the Bears do with the 41st overall selection in this year’s draft.
It’s a top-50 selection, and the Bears should be able do add another difference-maker as they did last year in defensive tackle Eddie Goldman (No. 39).
Here are five players to watch:
TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas
It’s a bad year to have a glaring need at tight end as the Bears do after trading Martellus Bennett. It’s a thin class, which Pace described as OK. But Henry (6-5, 250 pounds) already is an excellent pass catcher and route-runner. He made 51 catches for 739 yards and three touchdowns as a junior last season.
The Bears will be lucky if Henry, who visited Halas Hall, is available at No. 41, but it’s possible. Last year, the Carolina Panthers selected hybrid tight end/receiver Devin Funchess with the 41st overall selection. Later at No. 55, the Baltimore Ravens drafted the first true tight end, Maxx Williams.
OLB/DE Emmanuel Ogbah, Oklahoma State
The Bears want more pass rushers, and Ogbah (6-4, 273 pounds) was a decorated one in college. He often overpowered his opponents, making 28 sacks over his Oklahoma State career.
Ogbah has been projected as a possible first-round pick, but the Bears likely hosted him for a pre-draft visit with No. 41 in mind. Ogbah, who performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine, can rush upright or with his hand down.
DT Chris Jones, Mississippi State
There should be several standout defensive linemen, including Jones, to consider in the second round. At 6-6 and 310 pounds, Jones would be a perfect fit at end in the Bears’ 3-4 base defense. He started only one season at Mississippi State, but is considered on the rise. The Bears had a formal meeting with him at the combine.
OL Cody Whitehair, Kansas State
Veteran Matt Slauson, a team leader, played well last season, but the Bears’ decision to sign guard Ted Larsen was an indication that the teams wants more in the middle of the line.
Whitehair, who visited the Bears, was a four-year starter at Kansas State. He’s athletic and versatile, playing left guard and both tackle spots in college. Whitehair (6-4, 301 pounds) is considered a guard in the NFL.
S Vonn Bell, Ohio State
Safety remains a long-standing issue for the Bears. Veteran Antrel Rolle is not viewed as a longtime partner for Adrian Amos.
Bell (5-11, 199 pounds) is one of the best safeties this year. He stands out in coverage, making nine interceptions and breaking up 15 passes in his Buckeyes career.
Safety can be a tricky position to evaluate. Landon Collins was the first safety taken last year, but that was as the first pick of the second round (No. 33, New York Giants).