Chicago Bears’ Free Agent Moves Point to Change in Draft Strategy


It was pretty widely regarded by many that the Bears would be drafting a #1 wide receiver with their #19 selection.  By grabbing Brandon Marshall to be their #1 wideout and then adding Eric Weems and Devin Thomas in free agency, it seems doubtful that the Bears will invest their first round pick in another wide receiver.  Let’s look at some other areas where the Bears could look in the first round.

Offensive Line

What fun is it to give Jay Cutler all these new toys but no time to play with them?  Lovie Smith doesn’t want to admit it, but the Bears need to bolster the line.  Sure, getting rid of Mike Martz will help and a full offseason program for this group will be helpful, but nothing like an influx of talent.  Here’s a look at the top 5 Offensive Tackle prospects:

1. Matt Kalil, USC
2. Riley Reiff, Iowa
3. Jonathan Martin, Stanford
4. Mike Adams, Ohio State
5. Zebrie Sanders, Florida State

Kalil and Reiff will likely be long gone by the time the Bears get on the clock at 19.  I’ve seen Martin slipping in some mocks and could be there for the Bears.  Mike Adams was a standout at the Scouting Combine, but I’m a little skeptical of a hero from the underwear Olympics.

Defensive Line

There was quite a bit of buzz before the start of free agency about the Bears going after Mario Williams.  When they traded for Brandon Marshall, it pretty much took them out of the running for Williams.  They also couldn’t quite close the deal on their Plan B, Jeremy Mincey.  It leaves them in need of another pass rusher to go opposite Julius Peppers.  The draft offers some interesting possibilities for the Bears.  Here are the top 5 DE prospects, according to our guys at NFL Mocks.

1. Courtney Upshaw, Alabama (OLB hybrid)
2. Quinton Coples, North Carolina
3. Melvin Ingram, South Carolina (OLB hybrid)
4. Nick Perry, USC
5. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois

Don’t get too scared off by the hybrid OLB’s; Lovie likes his pass rushing DE to be a little undersized.  The top 3 guys will probably be gone early in the first round, but Perry and Mercilus could be there for the Bears.  Would either be worth the first round investment?


The Bears re-signed Tim Jennings and Peanut Tillman is coming off a Pro Bowl season, but there is definitely a need to add some reinforcements behind those two since the Bears lost Corey Graham and Zack Bowman to free agency.  (OK, maybe not a big loss, but a loss nevertheless.)  Here are the top 5:

1. Morris Claiborne, LSU
2. Dre Kirkpatrick, Alabama
3. Janoris Jenkins, Northern Alabama
4. Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina
5. Alfonzo Dennard, CB, Nebraska

Claiborne is probably a top-5 pick, so he’s gone.  Kirkpatrick has some nice size that would match up really well going against the bigger wide receivers that the Bears will face in the NFC North.  Jenkins has loads of talent, but might have some character issues that could make him slip.

Wide Receiver

OK, so I lied.  If the right guy happened to be there at 19, the Bears couldn’t pass on another stud wide receiver, could they?  Maybe a little insurance in case Marshall strays off the field or Knox can’t get back on it?  Maybe they just complete the overhaul the position?  Here are the top wideouts according to NFL Mocks:

1. Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina
2. Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
3. Michael Floyd, Notre Dame
4. Kendall Wright, Baylor*
5. Mohamed Sanu, Rutgers

All due respect to my colleagues over at Mocks, but Jeffery ahead of Blackmon?  Seriously?  And where’s my boy Steph Hill?  They have him all the way down at #13 on their big board, which is clearly in need of an update.  But I digress.

Blackmon and Floyd are probably gone by the time the Bears step to the podium.  Would Wright, Hill and Jeffery merit a first round look from the Bears?

Guess what?  I’ve just given you at least 20 draft prospects and the Bears pick 19th, so one of them will be available.  I haven’t even listed the QB’s, RB’s, DT’s LB’s or S’s.  In fact, it’s probable that someone who is a Top 3 player at their position will be there for the Bears.  Which direction should they go?  Vote in our poll and if you vote Other, you’d better have a Comment to go with your vote.