Sure, it’s only the middle of the 2010 NFL season and not a lot of people are thinking about the 2011 NFL Draft, but to this writer, it’s never too early to talk about.
The Bears are a team with a lot of needs that must take a hard look at improving through the draft.
Granted, General Manager Jerry Angelo hasn’t been the best at evaluating talent and drafting players who stick around, but he’s got to get things straight and be an excellent evaluator in the upcoming draft.
That’s if he’s still around.
So, what are the Bears going to do in the 2011 NFL Draft? What are their needs?
Let’s take a look at this, the first Bears draft preview prior to the 2011 NFL Draft.
1. Offensive Tackle
It appears as if Chris Williams may be a better guard than a tackle, and while Frank Omiyale is a serviceable left tackle, he’s certainly not as solid as the Bears would like.
If Angelo is smart, he should look at taking a left tackle with the Bears first pick in the draft.
There will be some decent offensive tackles available in the first round, including guys like Wisconsin’s Gabe Carimi and Miami's (FL) Orlando Franklin.
Could the Bears be interested in one of these guys or any offensive tackle in general?
If they aren’t, they need to be.
Olin Kruetz is definitely not getting any younger or any better, but has been a serviceable option for the past two seasons.
It is now time that the Bears look at getting a younger player in there to groom as Kruetz’s eventual replacement.
They don’t currently have anyone on their roster to back him up either so getting someone in next season is a priority.
So who are some of the centers that the Bears could target on draft day next year?
There are three that stand out right now who could help the Bears, and start early if needed: They are USC’s Kristofer O’Dowd, Penn State’s Stefen Wisiniewski and Georgia’s Ben Jones.
The Bears should take a serious look at one of these three players as a way to replace Kreutz and help improve the offensive line.
3. Offensive Guard
If the Bears do decide keep Williams at the guard position, that will help relieve some of the stress at the position, but the Bears will want to keep on the lookout for someone to play opposite of Williams.
It’s not out of the question to think that the Bears may try to get another guard early in the draft to help them rebuild and improve their offensive line.
Some of the possibilities the Bears could be looking at in the 2011 NFL Draft include Wisconsin’s John Moffitt, Florida’s Mike Pouncey and Oklahoma’s Stephen Good.
Any of these guys, along with a host of others, could really help the Bears out on their offensive line.
4. Defensive Tackle
Not all of the Bears' draft needs are on the offensive line.
After watching the failures of Tommie Harris and Marcus Harrison, the Bears could really use some help in the interior of their defensive line. The Bears run a defense that requires the interior tackles to play well and get up the field, not only helping to play against the run but also getting pass pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Bears tackles, such as Harris and Harrison, aren’t getting the kind of production they used to (or the Bears thought they would). Without them helping out on defense, it’s almost as if the Bears have wasted roster spots.
So, can Chicago take care of this position in next year’s draft? Of course.
Some of the bigger name players the Bears could be interested in include guys like Miami's (FL) Allen Bailey, Nebraska’s Jared Crick and Ole Miss’ Jarrell Powe.
5. Wide Receiver
The Bears have a decent group of wide receivers, but they need someone who can be an overpowering “star” at the position.
Some of the players who could fill this role in Chicago include Boise State’s Austin Pettis, Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd as well as Stanford's Chris Owusu.
Positional Considerations for Depth
If they have taken care of some of these primary concerns, they could take care of some of these other positional concerns.
Here are three areas they might consider adding depth in a little later on in the draft.
1. Cornerback: The Bears could always use some help at cornerback so don’t be surprised if they add some depth here.
2. Linebacker: Both Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs aren’t getting any younger, so look for the Bears to take a shot at someone to be a replacement for these guys further on down the road.
3. Safety: They may try to find someone considered to be a “late round gem” at the position.