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How low can Bears go?

They want to drop below 20th pick in NFL draft to gain an overall pick, and there are suitors

Dan Pompei

On the NFL

10:37 PM CDT, April 24, 2013

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It won't be long now until the Bears walk down the aisle with their first pick of the draft.

The white runway carpet has been rolled out. The flowers have arrived. Rings are on the pillow.

Now all they have to do is identify their choice.

The most important late piece of information we have from NFL front offices is a trade down remains very much in play. There are at least three potential suitors.

The first, and perhaps most likely trade-down partner, remains the 49ers. They have 13 picks in their pockets, and they could have motivation to move to the Bears' 20th spot. The 49ers are believed to covet LSU safety Eric Reid. If they want him, they may have to jump the Bengals, who pick at No. 21.

To get the 20th pick, the 49ers probably would have to surrender their 31st pick in the first round and the 31st pick in the second round, and possibly a late draft choice as well. The 49ers might try to keep the 31st pick and get the Bears to take the 34th overall pick, which they acquired from the Chiefs in the Alex Smith trade.

The Falcons also are believed to have talked trade with the Bears. They might want to move up for Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert or cornerback Desmond Trufant. They have 11 picks to play with and an aggressive general manager in Thomas Dimitroff with a history of wheeling and dealing.

The Falcons could offer the 30th pick in each of the first two rounds to move up 10 spots with the Bears. They might try to go higher if it looks like Eifert will be chosen in the 15 to 19 range, however.

The other potential trading partner for the Bears is the Texans. They could offer the Bears the 27th pick in the first round and the 25th in the second. The Texans have nine picks, with compensatory selections in the third and sixth rounds.

They might be interested in moving up for a wide receiver. If it's Tavon Austin of West Virginia the Texans want, the Bears have to hope he makes it past the Rams at 16 and slides a bit. That is looking more and more unlikely as the draft approaches,

The best-case scenario for the Bears? A multiple trade-down.

Here is how it could go down.

Say they move to 27, 30 or 31. Now, say the quarterback market heats up and teams picking high in the second round want to leapfrog the Jaguars, who own the first pick in round two. Potential trade partners on a second deal would be the Eagles (35th overall pick), Cardinals (38th overall pick), Jets (39th overall pick) and Bills (41st overall pick).

If the Bears trade down, they will have many options available to select. Among them could be one of the three top middle linebacker prospects — Alec Ogletree of Georgia, Manti Te'o of Notre Dame and Kevin Minter of LSU. And not necessarily in that order.

Some front-office men are starting to think Minter could be the first of the three off the board, as Ogletree might be dropping.

Given Ogletree's history of off-field transgressions and his inconsistent play, it is difficult to envision the Bears selecting him at No. 20, despite his considerable ability. He was brought to Halas Hall for a visit, however.

The day before the draft, four NFL execs from different teams who spent time with Ogletree said they still weren't completely comfortable selecting him.

Said one, "He is a big risk. You'd have to have a good nucleus of guys to take him. Some teams will take him off the board, but not every team. Personally, I'd have concerns."

So who could the Bears select if they are stuck at 20? Eifert still makes sense if he makes it that far. His Irish teammate T'eo makes more sense at 27, 30 or 31 than he does at 20.

The best player on the board at 20 at any position could be Trufant. And he also would fill a need. He is a cornerback with the size, speed, instincts and aggression to play in a zone or man scheme, and he can line up inside or outside.

He would look pretty good backpedaling into a Cover-2 zone. Or walking down the aisle.

dpompei@tribune.com

Twitter @danpompei