It is that time of the year again. I’m not talking about the start of the baseball, but the NFL Draft. Even though the players and owners can’t still come to an agreement off the field, there are young players out there with the dream of becoming the next big thing to hit a franchise, or just be a cog in the machine. From quarterbacks who have potential, lineman who look good on film and “no-brainer” picks; they are all gambles.
Nothing is a lock, even though we have so much information on the players from the combine, their whole college careers on film and Wonderlic test scores.
The Chicago Bears came very close to making it to the Super Bowl last year. They were beat by a team who has made great decisions in building their team through the draft. Unlike the Bears recent draft picks, the Packers have had much success.
Some of the reasons the Bears had problems could be resolved directly through the draft. There are some holes in spots that are crucial to stay ahead in just the NFC North.
The one position that everybody, including the casual Bears fans, needs improvement is the offensive line. The human piñata that is Jay Cutler took well over 60 hits last year. The Martz offense requires able-bodied lineman who can take double teams because of the bigger drops the quarterback has to take to set his timing routes on the field.
Last season, the left side was being pressured regularly from linebacker and secondary blitzes, and the team didn’t adjust, which lead to hurried passes, turnovers and big yardage losses.
This is the one position that has to be improved, or it will null any other skill position improvements or free agent moves.
The secondary has their issues as well. Between Charles Tillman’s age, Zach Bowman’s lack of awareness and Danieal Manning testing the free agent waters, Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith have to think about gambling on a guy.
Major Wright is physical, but still has to prove that he has gained enough knowledge to be on the field every down. The Cover-2 defense relies on the speed of the safeties and the awareness to switch depending on the sets the offense is running. Even though speed is one the top traits that scouts look for, maybe what the Bears need to focus on is a film rat who doesn’t just rely on his athletic ability like many do in college, because of the floor to ceiling grouping of talent in the NCAA.
The trade for Jay Cutler has hindered the Bears having as many picks as they would have, so it would make sense that the Bears draft players who can help their biggest investment. When Jay was in Denver, he had the biggest and most physical receiver aside from Andre Johnson.
All Jay had to do was throw the ball in the air to Brandon Marshall and let him go get it. Now he has players like Devin Hester and Johnny Knox, who are smaller speed guys. That doesn’t fit Cutler’s strengths, which is his big arm and accuracy deep downfield. Earl Bennet is a great possession receiver, but he is not the Johnson or Marshall type.
Come next week, we’ll see if the Bears take their reputation for having bad drafts and buck the trend. Finding a diamond in the rough could put them on coarse for another run in the playoffs; having a blunder could set them back and the questions will start.