2010 NFL Draft: Chicago Bears' Position Needs

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2010 NFL Draft: Chicago Bears' Position Needs
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

You won't be hearing much noise from the Chicago Bears next week when the NFL draft begins, but for a team shut out of the playoffs for three straight seasons, plenty of work needs to be done.

The Bears made their most drastic moves already with the additions of defensive end Julius Peppers, running back Chester Taylor, tight end Brandon Manumaleuna, and cornerback Tim Jennings.

The bulk of the roster appears to be set, with some obvious improvements (hopefully) on the way for head coach Lovie Smith.

If these improvements are significant in any way, they may just be enough for Smith to keep his job in Chicago.

Here are the major areas of need for the Chicago Bears.

Wide Receiver

Who's here: Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett, Devin Hester, Juaquin Iglesias, Johnny Knox

A year ago, this was possibly the Bears' biggest area of need. 

They used draft picks last year on Iglesias and Knox and counted on Bennett and Hester to step in as starters. Aromashodu was an afterthought but came on strong at the end of the season.

The Bears are still a receiver or two away from being serious Super Bowl contenders, so this position will get a look at some point in the draft.

Opting not to pursue bigger-name players such as Santonio Holmes and Brandon Marshall, the Bears will hope to catch lightning in a bottle.

Who could be here: Eric Decker, Minnesota; Carlton Mitchell, South Florida; Brandon LaFell, LSU; Jacoby Ford, Clemson; Mardy Gilyard, Cincinnati; Jordan Shipley, Texas; Riley Cooper, Florida

Several of these players (LaFell, Ford, Gilyard, Shipley, Cooper) come from winning programs in college, and all of them look impressive in one way or another.

In the case of Jacoby Ford, his 4.22 40-yard dash could be too enticing to pass up if he falls in the Bears' lap.

New offensive coordinator Mike Martz would also like to get his hands on any of the trio of 6'3" wideouts that could be available, such as Decker, Mitchell, or LaFell.

Offensive Line

Who's here: Chris Williams, Olin Kreutz, Frank Omiyale, Roberto Garza, Kevin Shaffer, Josh Beekman

Depending on what side of the ball you think is more important, this is the Bears' biggest need for the 2010 draft.

The line last year was, simply put, brutal.

Jay Cutler was constantly under duress, and Matt Forte saw fewer and fewer open lanes as the year painfully wore on.

If there's a silver lining, however, it's in the now-promising future of tackle Chris Williams.

The former first-round draft pick figures to be anchored at left tackle for the next decade or so, and Cutler will have one less defensive end bearing down on him.

Besides Williams, everyone's job could be in jeopardy.

Who could be here: Mitch Petrus, OG, Arkansas; Mike Johnson, OG, Alabama; Zane Beadles, OG, Utah; Marshall Newhouse, OG, TCU; Ciron Black, OG, LSU; Vladimir Ducasse, OT, UMass; Jared Veldheer, OT, Hillsdale; John Jerry, OT, Ole Miss

If the Bears use their highest pick (third round, No. 75) on an offensive guard, they'll be hoping that Petrus or Johnson fall to them.

Both are among the higher-rated offensive guards in this draft, so it'll be anyone's guess as to their availability when the Bears are on the clock.

Guard Ciron Black will be among the offensive linemen to watch at this year's draft.

He was originally a tackle while at LSU—and many had him pegged for a future first-round talent at the tackle spot. 

He is a massive athlete (6'5", 327 lbs.), but some question his mobility and aren't sure if he's quick enough for the NFL. 

It might be worth the gamble, however, to take a chance on a kid who once possessed first-round credentials.

Ducasse and Veldheer are feast-or-famine guys from lesser-known schools—their impact might not be felt in the NFL for several years. This could scare the Bears away.

Defensive Line

Who's here: Mark Anderson, Julius Peppers, Tommie Harris, Anthony Adams, Jarron Gilbert, Marcus Harrison, Henry Melton, Israel Idonije

As long as Lovie Smith has his headset on, the Bears will use the Cover-2 defense the majority of the time.

This means that the defensive line has to generate pressure and wreak havoc in opposing backfields. 

If the Bears can get adequate pressure using just their four interior linemen, they can solve a lot of problems for a porous secondary. 

If they can't...well, just watch tape from the last few seasons.

Peppers will get his name in the headlines and for obvious reasons, but Tommie Harris once again will be the X-factor with this defense.

His ability to be a star too often comes with his inability to stay on the field, and it has cost the team dearly over the last three seasons.

There's good depth here, but the track record of Smith and GM Jerry Angelo suggests the Bears will at least add a body with one of their picks.

Who could be here: Lindsey Witten, DE, UConn; George Johnson, DE, Rutgers; Kevin Basped, DE, Nevada; Rahim Alem, DE, LSU; James Ruffin, DE, Northern Iowa; Mike Neal, DT, Purdue; Corey Peters, DT, Kentucky; Brandon Deaderick, DT, Alabama

Because of the strength in numbers already on the roster, the Bears can probably afford to wait until the fifth or sixth round to add a defensive lineman.

Witten, Johnson, Basped, Alem, and Ruffin all have the potential speed to become decent edge rushers in the league, but they certainly won't be household names.

Their value, if drafted, will be to supply enough fresh bodies for the Bears' defensive line in case of injuries.

If they choose to draft a bigger body for defensive tackle, Neal, Peters, and Deaderick could be available later in the draft.

Again, their role will be to add depth to the team.

Secondary

Who's here: Charles Tillman, Zack Bowman, D.J. Moore, Tim Jennings, Corey Graham, Kevin Payne, Al Afalava, Danieal Manning, Josh Bullocks, Craig Steltz

In a league filled with superstar safeties, the Bears are a fish out of water with their current cast.

Payne and Afalava were the main starters last year at safety, but neither did enough to keep away the need for another young safety to join the fold.

All five of the Bears' safeties are mediocre at best, and to be a top defense in this league, you sometimes need an Ed Reed, Bob Sanders, or Troy Polamalu—but you might not find that player without a first or second-round pick—so the Bears will have to be smart when they choose a safety.

The offensive line issues will be addressed early, but maybe not until the Bears grab a free safety—possibly even with the No. 75 pick.

Tillman is a solid corner capable of guarding teams' top wideouts, while Bowman showed that with a clean bill of health (16 games played), he can be a valuable defender as well.

Jennings was brought in for depth, and Graham and Moore are solid as well.

Who could be here: Major Wright, FS, Florida; Kam Chancellor, FS, Virginia Tech; Donovan Warren, FS, Michigan; Quentin Scott, FS, Northern Iowa; Chad Jones, SS, LSU; Reshad Jones, SS, Georgia; Dominique Franks, CB, Oklahoma; Javier Arenas, CB, Alabama; Kevin Thomas, CB, USC; Ben Burney, CB, Colorado

After waiting 74 picks, anyone could be available when the Bears finally select a player. It's unsure whether they'll go with an offensive lineman or a defensive back (or neither).

If they go safety, they'll be after Major Wright and Kam Chancellor.

Wright was a three-year starter at Florida, which should tell you how talented he is.

He wasn't as highly regarded as teammate Joe Haden, but he would be a solid addition to the Bears' secondary.

Chancellor is a big, versatile player (6'3", 231 lbs.) who has experience all over the defensive backfield from his college days; he'd be a welcome addition as well.

Scott is climbing up draft boards because of his tremendous size/speed combination. 

At 6'4", 224 lbs., he can use his size over the middle but has the speed (4.43 40-yard dash) to close gaps on open receivers.

Chad Jones is regarded as the top strong safety, so if the Bears want to grab the "best available player" (as Jerry Angelo has stated in previous years), Jones could find his way to Soldier Field.

Franks, Arenas, and Thomas hail from powerhouse colleges, something Jerry Angelo will be monitoring if/when he decides to add a cornerback to the fold.

All signs point to a dull three-day draft for the Bears in 2010 (that's what you get when you deal away first and second-round picks), but it's important all the same to build depth and hopefully walk away with a couple of starters.

If the Bears can leave Radio City Music Hall in New York City with a new starter at guard and a potential starter at free safety, it will be viewed as a successful draft.

Head coach Lovie Smith will be praying his team finds those players, or he may have to find another job.

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