I believe the dust of free agency has settled enough to take another stab at what the Bears may do later next month. There is plenty of time to add more free-agents and sign their own however the major moves are likely over. Depth and competition will still be added.
Lets start with a quick run-down of the free agent signings so far. To my surprise, the Bears inked two starting caliber players in LT Jermon Bushrod and TE Martellus Bennett. I say surprised because the Bears just don’t have much cap space to work with. I felt they could make one big move and sign Melton so the second signing came as a pleasant surprise. At least so far…I have not seen how the team will pay for it all yet.
With Roach and Urlacher departing, the Bears signed a couple of veteran Linebackers in DJ Williams and most recently, James Anderson. Both have been signed to 1 year deals though I expect them to compete for, if not get plugged into, starting roles before camp begins.
In addition, the Bears added Safety depth by signing Tom Zbikowski and blocking specialist TE Steve Maneri. These two signings provide depth and veteran experience. Lets not forget Brandon Hardin as he should be healthy and a year wiser. As I do this mock draft, I am operating under the assumption that Evan Rodriquez will bounce back from his legal trouble and pick up where he left off in terms of his development.
Five rounds, no 3rd or 7th round pick and numerous wants and needs. Lets begin positionally as I think the Bears need to find an Offensive Guard, Center, Wide Receiver, and Linebacker in this draft. From a value standpoint, those first two picks are the key to the whole process and many have speculated that Emery will trade down to pick up more selections if he can find a partner. Though I generally don’t like trading down, this draft could be an exception providing we add another draft pick in either the 2nd or 3rd round. I definitely do not agree with picking up selections 5th round and below.
Bears select Chance Warmack from the University of Alabama. My first mock draft had the Bears selecting Warmack and signing Bushrod only help to reinforce my take on this selection. I do believe, however, that a Linebacker is a possibility here. I like Alec Ogletree here too and I believe that Emery will take a few more chances where character concerns exist and they definitely exist in Ogletree’s history. Remember this Bear fans…Offensive Guards selected in the first round usually turn into perennial starters in this league and while this pick is not sexy, it is safe and effective.
Assuming the Bears don’t make any noise on the trade front, here the Bears address their need at Linebacker with Rutger’s Khaseem Greene. If for some reason Arthur Brown or Manti Te’o is available here, then I think the Bears would select either one of those two but I just don’t see them being available at this juncture. A speedy receiver such as Baylor’s Terrance Williams could go to the Bears here though I think they will look to a later round to add a speedster.
At some point, I expect the Bears to select a Wide Receiver and I believe they will select Oklahoma’s Kenny Stills. Don’t mistake Stills with former Oklahoma draft pick, Mark Bradley as Stills is more polished and complete. The Bears have a good trio to start the season, but with the announcement that Hester will be a returner, not a receiver, the Bears will have to add a young prospect or depend on Eric Weems or an unproven youngster like Joe Anderson to contribute on a regular basis. I don’t see that happening…in fact, I can’t see the Bears keeping both Hester and Weems so I expect one or both to be on the cut list. Depth will be addressed in this position through the draft and/or free agency before season’s start.
I believe the Bears have to address the Center position and while this could be a first or second round selection, I believe they will look for value in this round from Notre Dame’s Braxton Cave. These lower rounds are so difficult to project. I tend to think in terms of positions here and Special Teams needs factor in at this juncture. The Bears have been notorious for selecting Linebackers and Secondary players in these low rounds. Don’t rule out a Running Back or Tight End in these lower rounds as these positions can fill key special teams roles as well.
I expect the Bears to take a Cornerback. If still on the board, a guy like Purdue’s Josh Johnson could get a call from the Halas Hall in this position. Do not rule out a low round QB pick in this draft either. I would love to see a guy like Miami (OH) Zak Dysert in a Bear uniform. I do not care for the past prevailing philosophy of signing has-been veteran Quarterbacks as back ups. This is a recent revelation for me as I had the thought in my head that a veteran QB was the only way to go. Well there are numerous recent examples of why you don’t need to think that way any longer.
There is still plenty of time for the Bears to make more free agent moves though I believe the idea of adding starters to the roster will likely be over. There is no doubt the Bears up against a salary cap boundary that they can not cross. This will further motivate the Bears to trade down too. No doubt there will be a few more moves and I am anxiously awaiting Idonije’s decision to go Bears or not to go Bears. I can hear a faint echo of Jeopardy music in my head!
So Bear fans, how do you see the Bear’s draft playing out now that Bushrod and Bennett have been signed and the Bears put a Band-Aid on the linebacker position with Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach’s departures?