The Chicago Bears surprised a lot of people by making it all the way to the NFC Championship game last season. The free agent acquisition of Julius Peppers really made a huge difference to the defense, and the offensive line performed much better than expected.
Lovie Smith assembled an impressive coaching staff, and the effect of Mike Martz and Mike Tice could be seen with the offense last season.
Jay Cutler had a pretty solid season last year, but it really ended on a sour note for him. Cutler worked surprisingly well with Mike Martz last year, and having a full year in Martz’s system will only help him in 2011.
Forte turned it on in the last half of the season, and he looked a lot better than he did in 2009.
Chester Taylor didn’t contribute much last year, but hopefully he can bounce back in 2011.
The Bears still don’t have a top wideout, but Devin Hester, Johnny Knox, and Earl Bennett form a solid duo. The offensive line needs a lot of work, as pretty much every position could be upgraded.
J’Marcus Webb was surprising as a rookie, but I’m not sure he’s the long term answer.
The defense was again the strength of this Chicago Bears team, and it was led by Julius Peppers. Peppers and Israel Idonije form a very good tandem at defensive end.
Defensive tackle is somewhat of a weakness, but Anthony Adams is pretty solid at nose tackle. Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are still playing at a pro bowl level, and they both should be just as good next year.
The other spot could be a problem, as Pisa Tinoisamoa has been injury prone since coming to Chicago. The secondary could use some work, as they are lacking a standout player.
Charles Tillman is still solid at cornerback, but the other spot is unsettled. Chris Harris and Danieal Manning are both good players, and I expect both of them to be starting again in 2011.
3. (75) S Major Wright, Florida
Should be a solid player, but injuries somewhat slowed him down in his rookie year, as he was never able to claim the starting safety spot.
4. (109) DE Corey Wootton, Northwestern
Didn’t get much playing time early on, but he looked like he had some potential when he got the chance to play.
5. (141) CB Joshua Moore, Kansas State
He didn’t get much playing time, but he will be given a shot to earn a role in 2011.
6. (181) QB Dan LeFevour, Central Michigan
He was let go at the end of training camp, and he ended the season with the Cincinnati Bengals.
7. (218) OT J’Marcus Webb, West Texas A&M
Webb played pretty well last season after being inserted into the starting lineup, and he’ll continue to improve with more experience.
Webb was a great pickup in the seventh round, and both Major Wright and Corey Wootton look to be major contributors. Jerry Angelo did a pretty good job despite not having a first or second round pick.
The Bears have lacked a true No. 1 receiver for a long time, and having one would really be a major help to Jay Cutler.
Devin Hester is a great weapon in the slot, and Johnny Knox looks like he has the ability to become a solid No. 2 option at receiver.
The depth is suspect, as Devin Aromashodu didn’t perform as well as expected. They may not be able to find a true No. 1 receiver in this draft, but I expect them to draft at least one within their first four picks of this draft.
It is extremely important for the Bears to find a top receiver in this offseason. They may have to go through the free agency route to find one, but there are a few underrated, mid round receivers who could turn into top targets.
Round One: Jon Baldwin
Round Two: Titus Young, Torrey Smith
Round Three: Leonard Hankerson, Dwayne Harris
Round Four: Vincent Brown, Terrance Tolliver
Baldwin has all the talent to become a No. 1 receiver, but his attitude has been questioned. Torrey Smith is a very underrated talent, and he could turn out to be a top receiver in a year or two.
Anthony Adams is a very solid run stuffer, but the Bears will be looking for a starting tackle to pair next to him.
Tommie Harris has underperformed in recent years, and he is no longer with the franchise. Matt Toeaina had his moments, but I think he is a better fit as a rotational player.
There will be quite a few options for the Bears in this draft, but this position needs to be addressed at some point. They can find a solid 4-3 defensive tackle who could challenge for the starting job in round two or three, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take one in those rounds.
As I said, it’s a strong draft for defensive tackles, as that position could just be the deepest position in this year’s draft.
I think the Bears really need to address the position this year while they have a lot of very good options to choose from.
Round One: Christian Ballard, Corey Liuget, Drake Nevis
Round Two: Jurrell Casey, Marvin Austin
Round Three: Jarvis Jenkins, Terrell McClain
Ballard and Nevis are two players who could be first round talents, even though most people may not agree.
If the Bears don’t want to use a top pick on a defensive tackle, Jenkins and McClain would be solid pickups in round three, and they would fit well in the Bears’ defense.
Frank Omiyale and J’Marcus Webb played better than expected last season, but neither of them are starting quality tackles.
Former first round offensive tackle Chris Williams was moved to guard and it seems to me that he is going to stay at that position, at least for the time being. The Bears must come away with at least one tackle in this year’s draft, even if they aren’t able to select one in the first round.
Offensive line coach Mike Tice did a pretty solid job with the offensive line despite not having a whole lot of talent to work with.
This team needs to give Jay Cutler some better protection if they plan on winning a championship with him as the quarterback.
Round One: Anthony Castonzo, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod and Ben Ijalana
Round Two: James Brewer and Chris Hairston
Round Three: James Carpenter and Lee Ziemba
Round Four: Joe Barksdale and Jason Pinkston
The Bears would love to have Castonzo or Carimi fall to them, but I’m not sure if that is going to happen at this point.
Even if they don’t take a first round tackle, Brewer and Hairston are two players who could develop into left tackles in a year or two, but could contribute at the right tackle spot in their rookie seasons.
Roberto Garza and Chris Williams both played adequately in 2010, but neither of them has firmly secured a starting spot for next season.
Williams wasn’t supposed to be an offensive guard, but he has struggled at tackle, and he will most likely get a shot to start because of the money they are paying him.
There really isn’t any depth at this position, and the Bears need to find someone who can not only provide depth, but can challenge for a starting spot.
Garza will most likely be starting again next season as well, but the Bears need to bring in some competition for him. They should be able to find that player in the mid rounds of this year’s draft.
Round One: Danny Watkins
Round Two: Rodney Hudson and Clint Boling
Round Three: Will Rackley and John Moffitt
Round Four: Zach Hurd
Hudson and Boling would be very good fits for the Bears if they last until the end of round two. I think the Bears might not want to wait too long to draft a guard, as the talent level really kind of drops off after the first five or six prospects.
This isn’t the biggest of needs for the Bears, but it is a position that they could consider.
Lance Briggs has one spot locked down, but the Bears can’t really count on Pisa Tinoisamoa playing for a full season. He is a solid starter when he gets on the field, but he missed seven games last season and there really isn’t much depth to speak of.
This is a position that I don’t expect the Bears to address early on in the draft, unless a top prospect falls to them. Yet, I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a player in the mid to late rounds who can provide depth in his first couple of seasons, but can possibly develop into a starter in a few years.
Round One: Justin Houston
Round Two: Mason Foster
Round Three: Colin McCarthy
Round Four: K.J. Wright and Lawrence Wilson
Houston would be a good pick for the Bears, but he might be gone by that point. The Bears probably won’t use a high pick on a secondary need.
Wright and Wilson are very underrated players, and while they most likely wouldn’t start in their first year, they could develop into solid starters down the road.
Charles Tillman has one spot locked down, but the other spot isn’t really settled. The Bears may look to bring in some competition for Tim Jennings, D.J. Moore, and Corey Graham.
Chester Taylor vastly underperformed in 2010, so the Bears may look to bring in a different backup for Matt Forte. At the very least, they should look to find a new No. 3 running back, as Garrett Wolfe may not be back with the team next season.
Olin Kreutz is one of the team leaders, and he is arguably the best offensive lineman on the team. Yet, he is getting up there in years, and he may not have too many years left in Chicago.
It will be nice for the Bears to have a first round pick again, after not having one for the past two drafts due to the Jay Cutler trade.
The Bears need some help around the trenches, with the offensive line most likely being a big focus in this year’s draft. Jerry Angelo hasn’t exactly had the best track record in the past, but he needs to have a solid draft here so the Bears can keep up with a division that is getting better every year.
The Bears took the league by surprise last year, but they have the talent to still be a force to be reckoned with.
They need to build around their franchise quarterback, which means that the Bears need to use some high picks on finding some protection for Cutler, as well as a No. 1 receiving target.