I put the original Bears Draft Needs post together back in February on the heels of the Super Bowl. A lot has changed since then, namely the addition of one JAY CUTLER, but surprisingly the needs haven’t changed all that much but some of the target players have come into focus a bit more.
Keep it locked on the Fansided network and Bear Goggles On for all of your draft coverage. I’ll be updating through my twitter account and keep a draft diary throughout the weekend. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the NFC North and what the Lions, Packers and Vikings will be doing while the Bears draft room watches a Three Stooges marathon and waits until pick 49. I expect that won’t come until somewhere after 7 PM Central.
So here’s my updated top draft needs post on the eve of the eve of Mel Kiper Day, I mean, the NFL Draft.
Chicago Bears Top Draft Needs: WR, S, DE
Jerry Angelo took a lot of the fun out of the 2009 draft. Most Bears fans believe that it was worth it, but only time will tell if Jay Cutler is worth what some critics have called the high price the Bears paid to get him. The Jay Cutler trade jolted the city and franchise from an otherwise boring offseason and infused life into a franchise just two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. Say what you want about Cutler and what the Bears gave up to get him, but at least they made a bold move to address a position that has been in a state of flux for the better part of two decades.
A lot of talk has centered around getting some weapons for Jay Cutler and most mock drafts have the Bears taking a wide receiver with their second round pick. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears went with a safety in the second round and shopped for multiple wide receivers on Day 2 of the draft. Angelo likes stockpiling defensive lineman and I fully expect to see him take a project or two in this area in the later rounds. With an aging offensive line, look for the Bears to infuse some youth to start grooming replacements for aging veterans Olin Kreutz and Orlando Pace.
Without their original first and third round picks this year, GM Jerry Angelo will have to find some late round magic. Here are the key needs the Bears need to address with their remaining picks.
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 new-look offense comes in with a big question mark at the wide receiver position. Veterans Marty Booker and Brandon Lloyd are gone, while rookie Earl Bennett hopes his reunion with Vanderbilt teammate Jay Cutler shows why he merited a 3rd round pick in 2008. Meanwhile, Devin Hester has shown signs of being able to contribute consistently on offense, but he needs some help.
The Bears definitely need to add a wideout or three around Hester. Taking a receiver in the second or third round is a must. If someone like Kenny Britt out of Rutgers or Brian Robiskie slides in the second round, expect the Bears to jump at the chance. Other names swirling around the Bears in the 2nd round include Mohamed Massaquoi out of Georgia or Juaquin Iglesias from Oklahoma. Don’t be too surprised if the Bears take a safety in the second and grab a project like WR Ramses Barden from Cal Poly in the third round.
One of the keys to the Cover-2 Defense is having playmakers in the defensive backfield. It is a sad reality that Mike Brown’s days as a Chicago Bear are over with his best days 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 in Chicago anyway?) When Brownie was back there, you didn’t see the types of missed assignments that you witnessed with Danieal Manning, Craig Steltz, etc. Josh Bullocks was brought in to help add some depth, but he struggled in a bad Saints secondary, so don’t count on him as more than an insurance policy.
Look no further than the world champion Pittsburgh Steelers to see the impact of having a stud safety like Troy Polamalu. Speaking of USC safeties, with Taylor Mays deciding to stay in 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 and Louis Delmas of Western Michigan appear to be at the head of an admittedly thin class. If the Bears wait until the bottom of the third round, they are not likely to get anyone near the top of the list.
The other key to the Cover-2 is to pressure the quarterback without having to blitz. That was not the case last season. The pass rush was a disappointment to say the least. Adewale Ogunleye is entering the final 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 in spurts during the season but has yet to be a consistent game changer. Mark Anderson hasn’t been able to regain his rookie form where he burst on the scene with 12 sacks and 2007.
Until the Cutler and Pace deals, the biggest offseason move appeared to be grabbing Rod Marinelli to be the new defensive line coach. The hope is that Marinelli will be able to increase the production of a defensive line coming off a disappointing 2008 season. Look for the Bears to grab a project for Marinelli to groom as the line starts to rebuild around Tommie Harris.