Top Needs: DE, S, WR, OL
It’s time to start the building process for the 2009 Chicago Bears. Jerry Angelo hasn’t exactly been a master builder in recent drafts, but whenever draft talk comes up, he seems to talk enough about floors and ceilings (of players) that you’d think he was a carpenter and not a GM. Since the Bears announced that they won’t be raising ticket prices in 2009, I don’t expect any big splashes in Free Agency, so the bulk of the work will have to come through the draft.
Almost every mock draft I’ve seen has the Bears taking a wide receiver in the first round. Receivers grab the headlines, but drafting offensive players hasn’t exactly been Jerry Angelo’s strong suit, so stick to what you do best and grab a stud Defensive End with the first round pick.
Adewale Ogunleye is entering the last year of his contract and appears to be heading out the door. On the other end, Alex Brown is solid and does a great job for spurts during the season. Mark Anderson hasn’t been able to regain his rookie form where he burst on the scene with 12 sacks and 2007 2nd round pick Dan Bazuin never panned out and had to be let go.
Since the Bears seem insistent on sticking with the Cover-2 defense, it’s imperative to get a pass rusher; not just an average player, but someone that other teams have to game-plan around. If you look at the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers, you’ll see that they played their share of Cover 2 in the Super Bowl and it made a noticeable difference when they were able to apply pressure. It’s not fair to compare the two teams directly since the Steelers employ a 3-4 defense, but when you look at James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley bringing pressure, you see that the scheme can actually work when you have the personnel to execute.
The Defensive End class of 2009 is pretty solid, but it’s hard to figure which ends translate better to the 4-3 which the Bears run. I’ve seen names like LSU’s Tyson Jackson, Penn St.’s Aaron Maybin or Northern Illinois’ Larry English as possible selections.
The next key to the Cover-2 is having playmakers in the defensive backfield. It appears that the sad reality is that Mike Brown’s days as a Chicago Bear are over and his best days are certainly behind him. His injuries in recent years have magnified the need to find a reliable replacement to “quarterback” the defense. (What is it with that quarterback position anyway?) When Brownie was back there, you didn’t see the types of missed assignments that you witnessed with Danieal Manning, Craig Steltz, etc.
Look no further than the World Champion Steelers to see the impact of having a stud safety like Troy Polamalu. Speaking of USC safeties, with Taylor Mays deciding to stayin school for another year (I guess he couldn’t afford the pay cut), the Safety class of 2009 is slim at best. Missouri’s William Moore appears to be at the head of the class, but he comes in with some durability concerns (like the Bears need any more of those) and appears to be better against the run over the pass (plenty of big hitters who can’t cover already). The best move the Bears might consider to bolster the secondary is to move Charles ‘Peanut’ Tillman to Safety (I love that punch maneuver to strip the ball) and draft a lockdown corner instead.
If we learned anything from the amazing playoff run by the Arizona Cardinals, it’s that a legit #1 wide receiver or two can make any offense look great. The Bears offense comes in with a lot of question marks and none is greater than the wide receiver position. You might recall that last offseason Jerry Angelo proclaimed Mark Bradley as the Bears #1 receiver; he’s not even on the team any more. Meanwhile, Devin Hester has shown signs of being able to contribute consistently on offense, though his return game were compromised in the process.
The Bears definitely need to add a a wideout or three around Devin Hester. Don’t expect them to make a trade for Anquan Boldin or sign a top tier free agent like TJ Houshmandzadeh. A more realistic pickup is recently released ex-Lion Mike Furrey or Pittsburgh’s #3 option Nate Washington.
The wide receiver draft class appears pretty deep, with names like Percy Harvin and Darrius Heyward-Bey and Hakeem Nicks swirling around the Bears. I am really reluctant to take a wideout in the first round – David Terrell anyone? – but taking a receiver in the second or third round is a must. And while you’re at it Mr. Angelo, if you take someone, make sure they can take the field. I don’t know what Earl Bennett did to merit consideration as a third round pick, but whatever it was didn’t translate to the NFL or to your coaching staff. Let’s all get on the same page.
The O-line is aging, with center Olin Kreutz and John Tait accounting for 21 years of service between the two of them. 2008′s starting left tackle John St. Clair is a free agent, while last year’s first rounder Chris Williams did little more than block on extra points at the tail end of the season after pre-season back surgery.
Jerry Angelo needs to solidify the offensive line if he wants to stabilize the quarterback position, establish the run or do anything on the offensive side of the ball. The Bears need to go out and get a tackle to groom into the right tackle spot and possibly to add some depth in case Chris Williams turns out to be another injury-plagued draft pick. Getting some depth in the interior line would be a boost to the undersized Josh Beekman and Roberto Garza. It would be nice if the Bears could also re-sign St. Clair to fill the role of swing tackle too.
Topics: 2009 Draft, Aaron Maybin, Adewale Ogunleye, Alex Brown, Arizona Cardinals, Bears Draft, Charles Tillman, Chciago Bears, Chris Williams, Craig Steltz, Dan Bazuin, Danieal Manning, Darrius Heyward-Bey, David Terrell, Devin Hester, Draft, Earl Bennett, Football, Free Agency, Hakeem Nicks, James Harrison. Lamarr, Jerry Angelo, John St. Clair, John Tait, Josh Beekman, Lamarr Woodley, Larry English, Mark Anderson, Mark Bradley, Mike Brown, Mike Furrey, Nate Washington, NFL, NFL Draft, Olin Kreutz, Percy Harvin, Pittsburgh Steelers, Roberto Garza, Taylor Mays, TJ Houshmandzadeh, Troy Polamalu, Tyson Jackson, William Moore