Before I get started, let me first get something out of the way: The Bears DO NOT need to draft a quarterback.
Rex Grossman and Kyle Orton, whomever they choose to start, is sufficient enough for the Bears to win as long as they shore up the offensive line and get the defense rolling again. I won’t go into why the Bears don’t need to draft a quarterback in a later article, but for now here’s what I see as the Bears most pressing needs.
1: Offensive Line. Kyle Orton never quite got his rhythm back after his ankle sprain, but the offensive line allowed a significant amount of pressure from opposing defenses. Also the rushing production of Matt Forte seemed to hit a wall because the holes weren’t there any more. The line looked tired going into the final quarter of the season. Chris Williams should get a full training camp in, so adding another young tackle or guard could give old timers like Olin Kreutz and John St. Clair the help they need.
2: Wide Receiver. No one stepped up to be the number one guy. Brandon Lloyd looked like the favorite until he got injured. Injuries to Booker and Hester threw them out of rhythm, and Rashied Davis dropped balls all over the field. While I have this listed as a draft need, I feel that this position can be easily addressed in free agency or a trade. It’s fair to say that Hester has made strides to be a top receiver but he needs a compliment to line up on the other side. A tall physical receiver would be optimal to help the Bears in the red zone.
3: Running Back. Matt Forte needs someone to step in and help carry the load. I don’t believe Adrian Petersen or Garrett Wolfe have what it takes to be the change of pace back the Bears need to keep Forte fresh. Besides, their contributions on special teams are substantial and it would be best to keep them there. A big bruising runner who can run the stretch play would be optimal and hopefully free up pressure up the middle for Forte.
4: Cornerback. Nathan Vasher has not been able to stay healthy, bottom line. The Bears are in a similar situation with Mike Brown who, when healthy, is a difference maker. Corners this season got burned time and time again, though it’s not entirely their fault. The Bears need a boost in their secondary. A physical corner who’ll take chances (ala Asante Samuel, Antonio Cromartie, etc) is needed to press opposing wide outs. Without that the secondary sits back in coverage and has to hope the line gets pressure on the quarterback.
5: Safety. Just like at corner, the Bears need a sturdy hard hitting safety who’ll punish teams who throw over the middle. Kevin Payne and Mike Brown (when healthy) are great run stopping safeties but the Bears need a coverage safety to help out the battered corners; a safety who can run the middle of the field and punish receivers on crossing routes and give help over the top when needed. Again, this position used to be held by Mike Brown but injuries have slowed him down something fierce and fresh legs are needed.
The Bears defense really already has all the tools necessary to return to Super Bowl form. A fire needs to get lit under them to get them playing better. However, on offense, there are some needs that desperately need filling if the Bears are going to be a threat in the division, let alone conference.