Quarterback Josh McCown during the Bears' Week 17 win against the Minnesota Vikings
Bears general manager Phil Emery is in a position that many rookie GMs would envy.
The Bears have a solid core of players to build around, but they also have enough question marks that Emery can put his stamp on the team’s direction from day one. Bears fans will know Emery's core philosophy immediately based on which pressing personnel needs he chooses to address first.
So, what are the top five areas of immediate need?
Sadly, a broken-down 34-year-old Orlando Pace is, to date, the best blocker to protect Jay Cutler since he arrived in Chicago. Even Jerry Angelo could figure out how critical it was to have an offensive line to protect his franchise QB, announcing both acquisitions the same day in 2009.
Since then, Cutler has been sacked 110 times in 41 games with the Bears, including a league-leading 52 in 2010. In three years with the Broncos, he was sacked a total of 51 times. Not surprisingly, those were also his most statistically productive seasons.
Something needs to be done here and has been for a number of years. In a perfect world, the Bears throw a ton of money into the pursuit of free agent to be Reggie Wayne and give Jay Cutler a legit No. 1 wide receiver that he can use immediately and for the next two or three years, at least.
With the 19th pick in the first round, and with any subsequent pick, it’s going to be hard to find a rookie wideout who can be the No. 1 wideout the Bears need immediately. But they still need to draft and develop a rookie—Michael Floyd from Notre Dame, anyone?
If the Pro Bowl is any indication, Matt Forte is healthy. But when both he and Marion Barber went down with injury, the depth chart got thin in a hurry.
Kahlil Bell was a pleasant surprise and may usurp the No. 2 RB role from an aged Barber, but the Bears need some speed out of the backfield and currently don’t have any.
The trade of Greg Olsen still makes no sense and was like Jerry Angelo’s parting “F you” to the organization. In an era where the pass-catching tight end has evolved in importance and every successful team has one, Angelo spent four years developing Olsen and then dumped him for a sack of rocks, essentially.
Matt Spaeth and Kellen Davis are blocking tight ends with soft hands around the goal line, but the Bears need a tight end with speed to stretch the defense, especially considering the lack of talent at wide receiver.
Lance Briggs is 31. Brian Urlacher is 33. While both are still productive and amongst the NFL’s best linebacker duos, now is a good time to groom a younger LB. Briggs is still unhappy with his contract and could demand a trade or holdout at any moment.
Nick Roach is a solid young player with a lot of skills, but outside of him there are former practice squad players and no depth.