The heads that were going to roll have long since rolled, and while we will continue to look at my ranking of our off season needs on Thursday we have all got a fairly good idea of where our most glaring weaknesses are. We aren't getting a ton of push upfront, although it did look slightly better than last year. Al Afalava looks great, but a cover two defense requires two good safeties to properly function leaving us short one safety barring Manning's continued development. Finally, we've got an offensive line that is at best in transformation, and at worst rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.
Better play calling on both sides of the ball can help, but we're still going to have the same starting personal except for perhaps three or four players. With that said, what are your hopes for the Bears going into next season if your top four positions are addressed with quality mid-round draft picks?
It wouldn't be fair for me to ask everyone to look into the future and walk out onto a limb if I didn't ask the same of myself, so here is my armchair prediction of how things are going to look next season when the dust finally settles.
We're going to try work under the usual mode of operation and build through the draft primarily, with perhaps one mid-level FA pick up, likely in the secondary after cutting Josh Bullocks. I'm betting on us also going the value route and picking up either the best G or RT on the board in the third. With the way things have shaken out the last couple years, and the way the Bears generally do things I'll throw my money on RT as despite a lot of us here at WCG hoping and praying the brass at this point have shown zero indication of putting Omiyale at RT. Next round, I expect us to draft a good, but slightly too bulky corner that throws up a bad 40 time at the combine, and try to convert him over to Safety. Next round, I won't be surprised where they go, as the Bears like to go pure value in the 5th and later, but there will likely still be a decent quality road grader land mass type guard on the board which would be the correct call, followed by a lot of practice squad fodder.
Now then, just on general luck only one of the offensive line picks are going to pan out. However, I think Garza is still going to have a quality year and Beekman will get a chance to slowly start to shine at center about four games into the year. Omiyale won't be terrible at LG, but he won't be great. However, even the slight increase in performance building off the end of last year is enough to give us more performances like the Vikings than we saw this year.
Hester is going to see quite a few targets to begin the year, but look for this to slowly decline and his ST time to increase after Knox continues to develop and Manning finds more time starting at S when the fourth rounder doesn't pan out, at least not this fast.
The team looks good, with flashes of greatness and ends the season with a 10 and 6 record which is enough for a Wild Card berth, and after that the crystal ball gets cloudy.
Anyone else have any completely out of left field predictions to throw up about next season?