By Bryan Dietzler
The 2016 NFL Draft is almost here and teams around the NFL are preparing to bring in what they will consider the future of their team through the draft. The Chicago Bears are in their second draft under General Manager Ryan Pace and Head Coach John Fox and they hope to do even better this year with the draft than they did last year. While the jury is still out on how the Bear’s drafted last year they did get some positive returns on a few players that might make Pace look like he’s a pretty solid drafting general manager. Year two, this year, is where he really has to shine and make this team better.
Chicago solved some of its problems and taking care of a few of its needs in free agency this offseason but there are still some needs that this team has. There are basically three big needs that Chicago has heading into the draft and they will hope to fill them with the draft picks that they have. The following is a quick look at the Bear’s draft needs and what they can do to fill those needs.
Defensive Line-The Bears did some work on the line during free agency bringing in Akiem Hicks but didn’t do much else and may have even lost a little bit (with the departure of Jarvis Jenkins). They do have Eddie Goldman who should be coming back healthy and entering his second season in the NFL so they have that much going for them but they might be weak with other starters and depth along the defensive line.
There are several decent prospects available at the top of the draft that the Bears might consider. Picking 11th in the draft leaves the Bears in a good position to find some talent and there should be some good talent along the defensive line when they pick. The biggest question is will they decide to do with that pick? Will they go defensive line or will they look elsewhere?
The Bears may choose to work on their defensive line a little later on in the draft as well but they do need to do some work here to make this unit better for the upcoming season and beyond.
Tight End-The Bears let their top tight end, Martellus Bennett, loose in a trade and now only have Zach Miller and Rob Housler on the team to work at the position. Miller had a breakout season of sorts last year but really can’t be counted on to be the number one tight end for the team. So, as a result, the Bears are going to have to be looking for a tight end in this year’s draft. They will need someone who can come in and be the number one tight end in the offense and that might mean that a tight end could be picked early in the draft for the Bears.
Would they pick a tight end with their first round pick? Is there a tight end that’s worthy of the number 11 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft? Probably not so the Bears will most likely wait until the second or third round of the draft to take a tight end. But they need to take one or else they will be very weak at the position next season. So look for the Bears to make a move on a tight end early in the draft.
Cornerback-Some might consider this a position of strength as the Bears have Kyle Fuller and Tracy Porter available but while Fuller is pretty solid, Porter is just an injury away from making this position weak. Porter has had problems with injuries in the past (before he arrived in Chicago) and is getting up there in age so he isn’t a good permanent solution at the cornerback position even though he is a pretty solid player. The Bears may decide to grab a cornerback that can either start right away or sit and start next season in this draft.
Where do they take a cornerback? While it might not be the most pressing position on the team it’s still one that they could attend to early in the draft. Take a cornerback at number one you say? It’s possible but Chicago may decide to hold off on that and wait till a little bit later (but perhaps not too late) round to take a cornerback. They could develop someone to be the starter in the future while allowing Porter to be the “guy” for at least another season.
There are other needs on the Bears that are worth mentioning. They do need to stock up on depth at both the inside and the outside linebacker positions even though they have made those areas somewhat more solidified thanks to free agency. They may also want to look at some additional depth on the offensive line (even though they added a lot in free agency) and may even want to take a look at bringing in a quarterback that they could develop into a possible starter for the future if quarterback Jay Cutler ever leaves or becomes injured. That’s a long shot but it’s definitely in the realm of being possible.
Another position that may get a look in the draft is running back. The Bears let Matt Forte go in free agency and have Jeremy Langford as their starter but they tried to go out and get additional help in free agency with no success. If the Bears find a good running back in the later rounds of the draft they may decide to select one and bolster the position.
This is going to be an important draft for the Bears as they have a lot of work to do to help make their team better and get them into the playoffs. This draft is going to be key because it will help bring the players that will help bolster the team from this year forward and give them the players they need to compete. They have a fairly easy schedule this coming season so they should be able to win more games, compete for a playoff spot and with the talent they have and will acquire they should be able to do that.