Julius Peppers was one of the better FA pickups in recent memory.
2010 Record: 11-5 (.688)
Team Needs: OL, OL, OL, OL, WR, DL, LB, S
Jay Cutler is a trooper, a soldier. Anyone who doubts he would have come back into that playoff game should say it to his face. The real problem with the Bears is that makeshift colander they call an offensive line.
I will get right into it; Danny Watkins should be available at 29 and the Bears would be fools to not select at least one player in this draft that can help out that line—or else deal with more QB injuries and turnovers from getting rid of the ball too quickly. J'Marcus Webb was a solid starter for the Bears after being a seventh round choice last season but he needs help. He should improve this season with some experience under his belt.
Cutler showed he could get it done even with the shaky protection through the season, where they gave away a league leading 56 sacks to opposing teams, including a nine-sack performance by the Giants early in the season.
Don't forget that just a few short seasons ago, the 2005 Bears were almost tops in the league with only 31 sacks allowed all year.
Another concern is a big-play wide receiver for Cutler to toss to but I can't see that as an issue when he doesn't have time to throw as it is. I think it was a good surprise that the Bears won the NFC North last season but now they have to draft late in the 29 slot, coupled with the lack of free agency due to the lockout and that puts the Bears in a somewhat unfair situation.
What route do the Bears take in the draft?
The role players and pieces are there for Chicago—the NFC North is one of the top-three toughest divisions to play in and they won it. I don't expect the Bears to be too functional with movement in the draft seeing as they only have six picks but I did see them being major buyers in free agency to keep pace with the re-tooling Vikings and now Super Bowl Champion Packers.
Eventually, this draft might just be one that comes down to best available for the Bears, as that late in the draft you have to evaluate which man would be the best asset more-so than the best fit for your team.
Near the end of the first round, there won't be any top-tier wide outs available and it will be too soon to jump for one that should be going in the second, although they may be able to grab a serviceable receiver with the 62nd pick in the second round.
Jimmy Smith and Aaron Williams should be there for secondary help if Watkins doesn't make it and possibly Akeem Ayers as well to replace OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa—Roach, Iwuh, and Wilson are not starting material at this time but Lance Briggs and and aging Brian Urlacher could use some help as well.