It’s painfully obvious that the two positions that need the most attention this offseason for the Chicago Bears are middle linebacker and the offensive line. Both positions are lacking much-needed depth, but there are also two different reasons why both positions need to be addressed.
The middle linebacker position has been manned by Brian Urlacher over the past 13 seasons. There is no doubt that Urlacher has done more than enough of fulfilling the continuation of the great tradition of middle linebackers in the city of Chicago. No matter how great his play has been throughout his potential Hall of Fame career, he has been slowed down by Father Time and is far from his dominant self.
On the offensive side of the ball, the front five has consistently been inconsistent. Since the 2009 arrival of franchise quarterback Jay Cutler, the Bears’ O-line has surrendered 184 sacks in the regular season. This has stunted the growth of Chicago’s offense, which has the personnel and the potential to be one of the best in the league.
A legitimate argument can be made for either case of drafting a linebacker or an offensive lineman in the first round. After looking at what the upcoming draft has to offer and who is available in free agency, I believe that it would be smart for Chicago to use their 20th overall pick on a middle linebacker.
I wholeheartedly feel that the offensive line should be addressed through the draft as well as through free agency. However, seeing that there aren’t many highly talented prospects at middle linebacker in the draft or in free agency, if one is available when the Bears are on the clock, they should snag him.
The three inside linebackers projected to be taken in the first round are University of Georgia’s Alec Ogletree, Louisiana State University’s Kevin Minter and University of Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o.
Olgetree is projected to be a top 10 selection, so chances are that he’ll be off the board once it’s time for Chicago to pick. Minter and Te’o, who are both great at getting from sideline to sideline, should still be floating out there at pick number 20.
If the Bears pass on a middle linebacker, it will be slim pickings in the rest of the draft and in free agency. This will leave Chicago hoping that Urlacher re-signs and stays healthy for the 2013 season.
The Bears can most definitely get an offensive tackle or guard through the draft who can come in and contribute immediately. In addition, Chicago can still pursue a young free agent such as offensive tackle Jermon Bushrod of the New Orleans Saints or offensive tackle Phil Loadholt of the Minnesota Vikings.
With the right pick in the first round of the draft, the Bears can still address all of their needs, still be ready for 2013 and for several years after.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google