Chicago Bears Draft Needs
Another late season collapse kept the Bears out of the playoffs in 2012. After opening the season 7-1, Chicago went just 3-5 in the second half. Despite an impressive 10-6 record, the Bears lost out in a tiebreaker to the Vikings for the final Wild Card spot. Chicago decided that it was time for a change, as they let go of head coach Lovie Smith and replaced him with Marc Trestman, who spent the last five seasons coaching the Montreal Aloutettes in the Canadian Football League.
While so much of the focus this offseason has been on whether or not the Bears will be able to bring back middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, Chicago has been extremely active and made a number of strong moves. They revamped the offensive line with the additions of LT Jermon Bushrod and G Matt Slauson, plus signed talented TE Martellus Bennett along with LB D.J. Williams, S Tom Zbikowski, LB James Anderson and TE Steve Maneri. Here’s a look at the five positions I feel the Bears need to target in the NFL Draft.
The additions of D.J. Williams and James Anderson are nice, but they don’t offset the loss of Nick Roach and potentially Urlacher. They still have one of the best outside linebackers in the game in Lance Briggs, but he turns 33 in November. Williams and Anderson are also on the wrong side of their prime. Chicago needs to go after the best linebacker on the board when they are up with the 20th pick in the first round. A lot of people are speculating that this will be the team that takes Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o, but either of Georgia’s linebackers could also be an option (Alec Ogletree and Jarvis Jones.
The re-signing of defensive tackle Henry Melton was another huge offseason move made by the Bears, but there’s not a whole lot of depth inside. Chicago’s only other defensive tackles are Nate Collins and Stephen Paea. For a team that relies so much on their defense putting pressure on the quarterback and forcing turnovers, this is a position they can’t leave untouched in the draft. You also have to factor in that they likely won’t have Urlacher roaming the middle of the field to make up for any mistakes.
The Bears have a franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler, but they have been unable to find a reliable backup. It’s cost them a playoff spot each of the last two years. While this year’s quarterback class isn’t great at the top, there figures to be plenty of value at this position later in the draft. Chicago needs to be active and bring in someone who can compete with Josh McCown.
The Bears have to playmakers on the outside in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, but there’s not a whole lot of talent on the roster other than these two. They decided to let go of Johnny Knox and Earl Bennett hasn’t shown enough to think he’s going to magically become a big factor in this offense. I think the Bears could use a slot receiver in the mold of Wes Welker or a deep threat that can stretch the field and keep safeties from doubling up on Marshall.
The Bears won’t be in the market for a starter at corner in the draft, but it wouldn’t hurt to add in some depth. Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings and Kelvin Hayden are all pushing 30 or past it. Adding in a late pick here on someone they can develop over the next couple of years would be a wise investment.
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