With the 2012 NFL draft right around the corner, let’s discuss the best possibilities in this year’s draft for the Chicago Bears. They have been quite aggressive this offseason, something Bears fans haven’t seen in a decade because Jerry Angelo was running the show. Now that we have run him out of town the Bears actually seem busy and are taking their needs head on. They addressed their depth at cornerback by agreeing to terms on one-year contracts with Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite, they also have signed WR Brandon Marshall, former New York Giants WR Devin Thomas, and Oakland Raiders RB Michael Bush. Bears also got a “LEGIT” backup in Jason Campbell in case Jay gets hurt again, and some might look at this is no big deal, but let’s face it, Caleb Hanie wasn’t going to get it done. That’s a pretty busy offseason for the Bears, but there are still questions that need to be answered. Will Matt Forte be on the field come Week 1? Will Marshall miss any games do to off the field conduct? Is Gabe Carimi finally healthy and can he live up to his 1st round hype? The Bears announced Wednesday, they have extended Lance Briggs’ contract until 2014. Question is, how much longer will this great duo of Briggs and Brian Urlacher be running the show on defense? Urlacher turns 34 in late May and Briggs will turn 32 before the end of this year. Wide Receiver Johnny Knox is also nursing a fractured vertebra when he absorbed a devastating hit during a 28-14 loss Dec. 18 to the Seattle Seahawks. The damage from the collision resulted in Knox undergoing surgery to stabilize a vertebra in his back, and is doubtful for this season. Bears signed former Atlanta Falcons WR Eric Weems, but my guess is he will be used more on special teams, so there is still a void in the receiving core. Looking at the current situation and recent signings, it looks like the Bears priorities should be Offensive Line, Wide Receiver, and Linebacker. It’s all going to depend on who’s on the board when the Bears select 19th in the 2012 NFL Draft. Remember that Vikings win in Week 17, Bears fans? We should have never won that game, Bears could be drafting in the 13th slot but it is what it is. Let’s take a look at 5 possibilities for the Bears come April 26th:
I’ve read a lot of Bears’ fans posts and tweets saying they want Michael Floyd if he’s still there at 19. He’s a big target, and certainly showed he has talent while playing at Notre Dame. Problem with this, is, I don’t think he will be there when the Bears are on the clock. Also, Bears have mentioned that Devin Hester may have ZERO kickoff duties this season (which is a little shocking and stupid if you ask me). So the Bears may not even be looking at a WR when it’s their turn. As I mentioned earlier, Bears signed Eric Weems, who I suspect will take over the kickoff duties. This means a bigger role for Hester in the passing game, not that I agree with it, but that might be enough for the Bears to look at other positions when the 19th pick is on the board. My personal opinion is that the Bears will indeed add a WR in the draft, but it won’t be in Round 1. Look for them to add someone deeper into the draft at the WR position.
If I’m correct and Bears decide to stay away from selecting a WR in the 1st Round, my guess is they will try to bolster their secondary. Sure, they made a few signings this week with Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite, but those are only 1 year contracts. Gilmore is a 6 foot 190 pound ball hawk; he is very physical and has tremendous speed (ran the 40 in 4.4). Almost a perfect fit in a city like Chicago, if you ask me. He will most certainly be there at 19, and I think the Bears should seriously consider him at a long-term solution to an aging secondary. I’m just not sure if the front office will use a first round pick on him as they like to use late picks to bolster their secondary. He’s a great possibility though.
It’s no secret that the Bears need help protecting their franchise QB Jay Cutler. Their offensive line is one of the worst in the NFL and needs to be fixed if the Bears want to be a successful running team. They tried to address this issue in last year’s draft by selecting the big man out of the University of Wisconsin, Gabe Carimi. He got injured and was irrelevant all season, but they expect him back this season as it’s reported that he’s 100% healthy. That doesn’t mean the Bears should think they are set on the offensive line. They could make the line stronger and more balanced if they select Glenn out of Georgia. He wowed scouts at the combine with his quick speed and agility. He also has the skill set to play either the tackle or the guard position, some have even suggested that he could even play center if asked too. Glenn would certainly add ability and versatility to a line that has a great need for it.
Amobi Okoye is no longer a Chicago Bear as he signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week so that leaves a void at the DT position. I was going to put Stanford’s Jonathan Martin here, but after losing Okoye, and recent comments made by the Bears’ front office that they are happy with the current O-Line, this might be the move they make. Cox had 5 sacks in 11 games last season, and was 5th in the SEC with 14 tackles for a loss. Bears have openly said they are strongly considering him with the 19th pick if he’s available, and I don’t blame them. The Bears need to fill that void, with Okoye gone. This might be the answer.
Yes, the Bears have Julius Peppers, one of the best pass rushers in the game. Let’s face it though, he’s getting up there in terms of age, and Whitney would be a nice complement on the other side of him. The Bears play the Lions and Packers a total of 4 times each season. So having an above average pass rush is a key to success when you have to see Matthew Stafford and Aaron Rodgers twice a year. Yes, he has only played one productive season, so there is risk here. However, his 16 sacks and 9 forced fumbles is certainly something you cannot help but notice. He had a 1.57 10 yard split at the combine and flashed speed and agility. Having this kid line up opposite of Julius can wreak havoc to their opponents. He’s a reach, but the rewards could be great if he continues to play like he did last year.
To round off this list, I’d like to just add that with Mike Martz now gone, the tight end position will certainly be used more in the Bears’ offense. Depending on what they do in Round 1, I seriously believe that the Bears will look HARD at a tight end in Rounds 2 or 3.