Ranking Bears' needs heading into NFL Draft
OK, having all had our hands slapped by Roger Goodell we will assume, for now, the NFL draft will take place April 23 to 25, so let's get down to business.
Step one is with a much better handle going on two weeks into free agency, we have to start by identifying the Bears' draft needs in order of priority.
Rather than listing them 1 through whatever, let's give them clarity by using a star system of 1 to 5, with 5 being an absolute must.
Offensive line ****
I'm only saving the fifth star because the Bears did prove they could win with basically what they have in 2018, but it still seems unlikely they'll be able to do that again. This is the only unit on the team that doesn't have a single player that has either been a star in the past or that we can realistically project will be one this year. (I don't know what Jimmy Graham is now, but he is a former All Pro and five-time Pro Bowler.)
James Daniels can become a perennial Pro Bowler at center and Cody Whitehair could be one of the league's best guards, but neither projects anywhere near that at guard and center, respectively.
They can be built around, and Bobby Massey is better than he gets credit for at right tackle, but is that good enough?
The bottom line is there are no other linemen on the roster with the ceilings of Daniels and Whitehair. Let's say I'm wrong and Charles Leno is good enough for now at left tackle. How many teams have you seen winning playoff games with "good enough for now" at left tackle? And we still have no idea if Rashaad Coward, Alex Bars or Germain Ifedi can be good enough for now. An upgrade is a screaming need.
Ryan Pace has done a nice job of retaining and adding bodies here, but are any of them even close to as good as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix who wasn't good enough? Many of the game's best safeties have come from days two and three of the draft and a high ceiling guy to pair with Eddie Jackson for the next four or five years could be an excellent use of the 43rd or 50th pick.
Tight end ***
What has been lost in all the angst over Jimmy Graham's contract is even the player we saw in Green Bay last year is a real upgrade over anyone the Bears have had starting at the Y since Martellus Bennett, and he is 33. Matt Nagy's offense requires a strong player.
Wide receiver ***
The Bears could be quite dangerous this season with Graham, Trey Burton, Anthony Robinson, Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen all on the field together, matchup nightmares, but it won't happen often because running out of that package will be near futile. This offense requires at least one more pure speed guy to go with Cohen and Miller, and Cordarrelle Patterson, love him as we should, just isn't a good enough route and runner drops too many balls to be that guy.
It is what it is for this season and Nick Foles is an excellent addition. Consistently good teams almost always have a hopeful developmental prospect growing in the garden, and the Bears haven't had one of those this century.
Cornerback/pass rush **
I like what Pace has done here and there is probably enough on hand right now, but you never have too much in these two spots.
Running back *
Even if David Montgomery's the guy, there is no true No. 2 on the roster.
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