Second Fan Post. Just some thoughts on the upcoming draft broken down by position. With my ideas of where in the draft to target these positions based on need and value. Followed by a Top 10 list of my 1st round preferences. Hope you enjoy, and just like my last Fan Post I enjoyed writing it. Nothing too controversial or crazy here so I don't expect much feedback but it's always appreciated. Special thanks to suckmyditka and crackedcactus for commenting on my last post. But I usually appreciate their comments anyways, regardless if it's my post or not. But yeah, I'm excited for the upcoming draft and so far Free Agency has been a pleasant surprise. Here is how I would keep things rolling along...
* WR: I can't wait to see Brandon Marshall out there in a Bears uniform. However, due to a pre-existing dearth of WR depth, WR is still a need and should be targeted early. I say this should be addressed within first 3 rounds. Right now, Free Agency is not an option to improve the level of talent here. I suspect a decent veteran or two might hit the market before the season begins. But I'd prefer young, explosive talent to pair with Marshall. The addition of Marshall definitely affords us much more flexibility dealing with this position. (Rounds 1-3)
* DE: I see this position as this biggest draft need for the Bears. Nothing is available in FA that could address this, and it'd be so much more cost effective to draft a DE, that it's not even funny. Hopefully no later than round 2 and hopefully without reaching. Q.Coples and M.Ingram would be great picks. C.Upshaw, W.Mercilus, N.Perry would be good picks. More on that later. (Rounds 1 or 2)
* OL: I'm going to lump OT, OG and C all together. And then classify our draft needs as, "watch for falling talent" especially in the first 2 rounds. The Bears O-Line needs help, particularly at OT. But we do have some young, versatile project-type players who for better or worse do have NFL experience. Here, I don't want another project-player, I'm looking for the piece to hold this puzzle together. Adding O-Line depth in later rounds is never a bad idea if it falls to you, but depth and versatility are not the big problems. Overpaying a little for M.McNeill or D.Bell might not be such a bad idea if drafting OL doesn't work out early in the draft. DeCastro, R.Reiff, J.Martin are my top 3. (Watch for falling talent. Rounds 1-2 or overpaid FA)
* CB: Tim Jennings was a good re-sign and think he's a decent 2nd or a very good 3rd CB. Lovie's Defense utilizes and values CB's differently than a lot of teams. In theory, the position can be filled through later round draft picks and from other team's scrap heaps. In reality, The Bears are in the same division as the Packers and Lions. Ideally I'd like to see this position addressed in Rounds 2 or 3. This year's draft is fairly deep at this position, good value should be available in both rounds. I'll make an exception for Dre Kirkpatrick, he'd be an exceptional 1st round pick and there's no way he should be allowed to fall to GB or Det if we do get a shot at him. (Rounds 2-3 or Rounds 4-5 + scrap heap FA)
* LB: Watch for falling exceptional talent. Cheap run-stuffing LB's are plentiful in FA. Fast, athletic LB's are abundant throughout this draft. There is no reason not to upgrade this position, but it's all about finding the best value. Hawthorne would be a great addition. Trading Briggs should be on the table too, if you take into consideration the talent available at LB. (Rounds 2-5, looking for exceptional talent.)
* DT: Re-signing Okoye would be a good move, but I think a good run-stuffing NT is more of a need. Melton is great at the 3-Technique. Paea is versatile enough to play either, but I think he is a better value at 3-Tech. F.Cox, D.Still, J.Worthy are each very talented and would be hard to pass up. But the DT's that I really like are more of the NT type. A better version of Anthony Adams is the type of player I'm looking for. M.Brockers, B.Thompson, M.Martin, J.Chapman. I still like the idea of a FA here, maybe even Albert Haynesworth (Aubrayo Franklin is another name I like.) But I'd prefer some youthful toughness at NT. Another name to throw out there just in case is Dontari Poe, but I don't think he'll last until #19. (Rounds 2-4 with an exception for Brockers in the 1st round)
* S: Safety should be all set, Conte, Wright, Steltz are all good. But I just don't trust Major Wright to stay healthy and effective all season. Maybe Jim Leonhard could be worth a look if he gets healthy by the time Wright gets injured. But there's nothing else really available in FA. Not a whole lot in the draft either. Barron is a player I especially like, but using a 1st round pick on him is hard to justify. So, I'll settle for hoping he doesn't end up on GB or Det. A step below Barron would be H.Smith, G.Iloka and M.Martin. I'd keep an eye on those three in the 2nd or 3rd rounds. Christian Thompson is another name I want to throw out there (Rounds 3-5)
* TE: I can't see C.Fleener or D.Allen as good value. Unless for some reason Spaeth were to be cut. I think keeping Spaeth makes more sense. Along with Kellen Davis that gives us some blocking. An under-rated receiving TE in the later rounds might be the best bet here. Also, I'd watch the cuts from other teams that need more all-around production from TE. In my opinion a young TE with good ball skills, who's blocking could be developed with coaching and playing time would be the best value for this position. (Rounds 5-7, UDFA)
My 1st Round Top 10 for the 19th pick in the 2012 draft:
10. K.Wright, S.Hill or W.Mercilus. Trade as far back as possible and still get one of these three. And then move up in the 2nd round, which would be a smart move regardless, if possible. DE is a big need, but I think the 2nd round has some decent DE's... N.Perry, A.Branch, J.Crick, C.Johnson, S.McLellin, V.Curry, J.Bequette, C.Jones, T.Crawford.. They won't all last until our 2nd round pick. They aren't all worth our 2nd round pick. They might not all even be 4-3 DE's. But the best one left might need to be our 2nd round pick if DE isn't the first pick. If you don't like those options, then reconsider Mercilus at #19.
Also considered for my Top 10: C.Glenn, M.Adams, P.Konz. All decent, but not the missing pieces to Mike Tice's puzzle. However, Tice would probably disagree and like all 3 of these guys. Defensively F.Cox, D.Still, M.Barron, J.Jenkins. All very decent, but not the positional value I'm looking for with the top pick.
My final thought is on RB. Forte, Bush, Bell, Allen, Unga, Clutts, etc... I think Lovie Smith is right, "It's going to work out fine." If we can nail this draft through the first five rounds. And then sign a couple Free Agents fairly cheaply to fill out some positions. And then use the remaining cap space to front-load a very fair deal for Matt Forte. Maybe up the guaranteed money just a little. If the rest of the team doesn't suffer, and if it can't potentially become a long term burden, I'd be ok with paying Forte 15 million this year. I'd also be ok with cutting or trading a player or two to make that happen. I think it's going to work out fine. We just need to take care of the draft first, see what we're working with and then get it done from there.
Thanks for reading.