Over the next three months, there will be hundreds and hundreds of mock drafts circulating across the internet, and I challenge you to find a more difficult team to try and predict for than the Chicago Bears.
The Bears managed to trade away both of their first day draft picks (the first round pick went to the Broncos in the Cutler deal and their second rounder went to the Bucs for Gaines Adams... yes Gaines Adams). Which just leaves the third through seventh round.
So trying to predict the Bears movements come April is nearly impossible, but let's give it a go anyway.
The Bears have several weaknesses that they need to try and address, especially considering that with the collective bargaining agreement due to end, free agency could get a little tricky over the next couple of years.
Now my predictions below are by no means what I expect the Bears to end up doing. Generally, Jerry Angelo is a big proponent of choosing the best available player in the later rounds, and he has his own list of players he likes. But this is what the SHOULD be doing.
Their biggest area of need is the offensive line. Third year player and former first round pick Chris Williams (left tackle) is the only for sure starter, in my mind, next season. Olin Kreutz might well be back at center, but there has been a movement to insert back up Josh Beekman into that role as Kreutz is entering the final year of his contract and has lost a step.
Right guard Roberto Garza is only getting older, former starting left tackle Orlando Pace is probably due to retire at somepoint this off-season, and right tackle Kevin Shaffer, while solid, is not a franchise right tackle.
And then of course is the epic failure known as the Frank Omiyale project. Omiyale was signed last offseason to step in and play left guard. However, his play was beyond poor. In between getting torched by opposing DTs and drawing the ire of fans for consistent penalties, he was benched at one point in favor of Beekman.
So who might be available in the third round (roughly the 75th pick)? There are three players who interest me. First, if we are looking at guard, Mitch Petrus might be the best available at our pick. Coming out of Arkansas, Petrus is a 6-4, 315 lb offensive guard who is smart and was involved in an NFL style offense under head coach Bobby Petrino.
If the Bears are looking at the tackle position, Notre Dame's Sam Young and Division II Hillsdale's Jared Veldheer could be there. Young was a four year starter at ND and while he struggled at times, his experience against top level defensive ends and his size should get him some looks.
Veldheer is a little bit more of an unknown. Coming from a Division II college, he has not had the chance to face the toughest competition. That said, the man stands at 6'8'' and weighs 321 lbs. He has solid fundamentals and is a two time All-American (and we all know how Angelo loves project players).
With their fourth round pick, the Bears need to aim for a free safety or defensive end. While I think the Bears need major help at safety, in the true Angelo spirit, I do not see anyone worth taking in the fourth round more than DE Alex Carrington.
The Sun Belt defensive player of the year, Carrington's nine sacks this season was a little misleading considering that he recorded four sacks in one game, but his combination of size and speed should make him a well sought after commodity.
In the fifth round, outside linebacker Koa Misi from Utah should add some youth and energy into an aging corps. At 6-2, 263 lbs, Misi should be able to learn alot from the likes or Urlacher, Briggs and Tinoisamoa (should he be brought back).
Once we hit the sixth round, it is really anyone's guess, but I personally like Pat Simonds, a wide receiver out of Colgate who put together an impressive senior season with over 1000 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns.
Plus he would add a dimension to the Bears receiving unit that has been missing for some time—size. Simonds stands at an imposing six feet, five inches tall, so maybe Cutler can finally find someone who knows how to go up and get the ball on a fade route in the end zone (as opposed to tight end Greg Olsen who has yet to convert a fade pattern into six points despite numerous chances).
In the seventh round—well, there isn't to much to say about the seventh round. If you want a riskier pick, maybe LeGarrette Blount to add a power back for short yardage or perhaps Freddie Barnes, a Chicago Native who played for Bowling Green and led the nation in receptions, or someone like Trindon Holliday, a kick return specialist that Angelo seems to enjoy picking. Those would be my three choices, if they are available.
So there you have it, and since the playoffs are still going on and the combine hasn't happened yet, I will spare you my predictions for who we sign as undrafted free agents until a later date.