Rather surreal that the 2011 NFL Draft will take place in 11 days when we don’t even know if there will be a 2011 NFL season. Not much more surreal than my recently coughing up a four-figure check for the Chicago Bears to sit on even if there turns out to not be a season. And frankly, as I’ve written over the last two months, I have kept my mind off of football because it is quickly becoming a sport I will not be able to afford to pay attention to in the future.
So for some time now, I’ve been holding my thoughts on what I think the Bears’ top priorities should be in the upcoming draft. Of course some of these needs could be addressed in free agency, but we don’t know when free agency will open any more than we know when or if the season will begin. So consider these what I believe to be the team’s top needs to be addressed in either category.
For reference, here is www.profootballtalk.com’s report on their top team needs for the Bears. Wide receiver as Chicago’s top need? Please.
1) Three-technique Defensive Tackle: Even before Tommie Harris was released last month, given that Harris has not played at a high level since 2007, this was a top need. This position is the most important in Lovie Smith’s defense, and an impact player here would make Julius Peppers even more dominant. It could be logically argued that Peppers would have had far more than eight sacks in 2010 if he had someone in the middle generating pressure. Illinois’ Corey Liuget would be perfect if he fell to the Bears, but he probably won’t. I’d say Marvin Austin from North Carolina would be another player to take a look at if available.
2) Offensive Line: I’d almost say another position on defense would be the Bears’ number 2 need, but we all know that they need to address three positions on the offensive line if they are to challenge the Packers in the near future. 2011 is going to be a great year for tackles in the draft, but unfortunately most of those worth the Bears’ first-round pick will probably be gone when the Bears select at #29. Top prospects Anthony Castonzo, Nate Solder, Tyron Smith and Gabe Carimi will be drafted barring a miracle, as will Florida Guard/Center Mike Pouncey. So here’s to hoping the Bears will be able to pick up at least two solid players and a prospect like J’Marcus Webb before draft’s end.
3) Cornerback: Even if Charles Tillman weren’t nearing the end in a few years, the Bears would still desperately need a #2 corner. Granted, Tim Jennings played his heart out in 2010 but has his limitations. It is imperative for the Bears to find a corner to improve the position across from Tillman and eventually replace him. If either Colorado’s Jimmy Smith or Aaron Williams from Texas slip to the Bears, I would think they would have to pounce on him.
4) Defensive end, Linebacker: After the Bears’ top three needs, in my opinion they begin to take on equal importance. But also by the third round, we wouldn’t be looking at great chances of getting a player that could change Chicago’s fortunes in 2011. They need to find a defensive end to generate more consistent pressure than Israel Idonije across from Peppers, and also need a prospect at strongside linebacker. Not to mention starting to look for Brian Urlacher’s eventual replacement. No way they’ll be replacing Urlacher’s production in the third-round on. Interesting to note that 2007 failed second-round pick Dan Bazuin should be producing here…then again, so should Mark Anderson, also a failed experiment.
5) Wide Receiver, Backup Running Back, Developmental Quarterback: Again this is going to depend on best available player, because the odds of finding a star after filling the top needs are not likely. Do the Bears need a consistent #1 receiver given they have a roster full of #2/#3 types? Absolutely, but they’re not going to find one to contribute in 2011 after addressing their top needs. If the Chester Taylor losses are cut, they’ll need to decide on Garrett Wolfe or Kahlil Bell as backup or draft a back with some promise late. Not to mention finding a #3 quarterback if Caleb Hanie remains as #2. The Todd Collins experiment was an absolute joke.
If it were me, and thank God for the Bears and their fans it isn’t, I’d take the best available defenive tackle or end, offensive lineman or cornerback in the first round. Then hope that this person has football to play in 2011.
What do you think? Is anyone out there thinking much about the Bears or the NFL since they can’t give us the promise of a 2011 season?