Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery met with the media today for a pre-draft press conference. In the 45-minute Q&A session, Emery touched on nearly every need and preference for the Bears in the 2014 NFL Draft, including his short list of candidates with the 14th overall selection.
"Every day we keep narrowing it in terms of defining who that group is," Emery said. "I would say for that first pick, we're right at six. 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 he hopes all three of the top quarterbacks in this year's draft, Texas A&M's Johnny Manziel, UCF's Blake Bortles and Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater – are gone when it's his time to pick, as that would push down the talent at other positions.
"I hope three. That's my wish. If somebody wants to take a fourth one, that would be great," he said. "I would think at least two [will be gone]."
The one player most attached to the Bears this offseason has been Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Yet Emery made it clear he doesn't expect Donald to be on the board when it comes time for him to pick in the first round.
"I wouldn't count on that one," said Emery. "He's a very good player"
That being the case, it's unlikely he's even considering Donald in his final six.
He did say there is a drop-off in talent behind the only two first-round safeties in this class, Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor. Emery said he's considering big corners in the mid rounds who can potentially transition to safety, which is another knock on the depth the safety.
"We've looked at every corner that has length as a possible safety," he said. "There is a drop-off in terms of perceived level of ability between the first few safeties in the draft and the next grouping. Out of necessity, we have looked at them from all different angles in terms of their positional flexibility."
Take that for what it's worth, as we're official in the heart of "lying season". Emery may have no interest in either Clinton-Dix or Pryor and could be building them up in the hopes a team behind him will be willing to trade up to get one. He's right though, there is a drop off in talent behind those two safeties, so you have to believe he's considering both players to fill arguably his biggest position of need.
As far as trading back, Emery said he's already received calls from team's looking to trade up into the 14th spot.
"We've gotten some calls," Emery said. "That's what - other than working with our staff and our scouts on refining and fine-tuning our selection of players, that we feel will be available at particular areas of the draft - we're also working very hard at figuring out the scenarios on what works on how far down we would go."
Don't read too much into that, as that's very typical at this point in the pre-draft process.
In reference to the types of players he's looking for in the first round, Emery said "bigger is better" but size won't preclude him from taking the best player available.
"If I had my druthers, bigger would be better," he said. "And we're a little bit orientated that way, but we're not going to pass up dynamic players regardless of their size."
Still, if two players are of equal value, it appears Emery is going to err on the side of size.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.