I used ProFootballFocus.com in my "Bears free agency targets" series because they use sabermetric-type numbers to go beyond the stats and really grade out football players.
i find their analysis to be helpful, as well as insightful. So when they did their "2013 Team Needs" series, I thought I'd see who they thought would be a good target for the Bears.
For PFF writer Michael Renner, he sees the three target areas for the Bears in free agency as offensive line, linebacker and tight end. That is sort of a no-brainer, but he expanded on why each was such a need. Here is what he had to say about the Bears' offensive line:
The most solid all-around starter on the line was, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, J’Marcus Webb. Everyone else is a candidate for replacement. Lance Louis and Roberto Garza couldn’t run block, whereas Gabe Carimi couldn’t pass block, and Chilo Rachal, Chris Spencer, Jonathan Scott, and James Brown were all dreadful in limited time.
As the season wore on, a lot of fans really came around to Webb not being as bad as they thought. Perhaps it was just the rest of the offensive line sucking, but Webb did improve. A lot of fans saw Lance Louis as the best offensive lineman but PFF did not see it that way. They rated him out at a -1.8 overall. However, he is probably the best pass-blocker on the line and warrants a contract offer but I was surprised to see PFF down on him in run-blocking.
Anyway, Renner sees the Bears targeting a tackle in the draft or standing pat with their young guys and hoping they improve. He thinks the Bears should target a guard, Andy Levitre:
What Levitre would bring is a dominant pass blocking presence that Chicago certainly lacks. The Bills guard was second among all guards in Pass Blocking Efficiency. Re-signing Louis as well would give the Bears plus pass blockers at the three interior positions and keep QB Jay Cutler from consistent pressure in his face.
For linebacker, Renner thinks the Bears need to replace both Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach. The best way to find an Urlacher replacement is through the draft, for sure, but Renner throws a free agent name out for a Roach replacement that I was unfamiliar with; Brad Jones.
If the Bears want to upgrade their outside linebacker position though, and be better situated if Urlacher gets hurt, Jones would be a quality signing. Jones played inside linebacker in a 3-4, but has the body type of a 4-3 outside linebacker. Last season was his first at inside linebacker and he showed he could drop well into coverage (+2.5 coverage grade) while still covering the run sideline to sideline (+8.1).
Jones could be had for cheaper than some free agents and he is a bit of unknown, as he only has 23 career starts in four seasons. The Bears were once able to pick up a different young, somewhat unknown LB from Green Bay and that worked out okay, the guy was Hunter Hillenmeyer.
Tight end is a position the Bears could address in the draft or in free agency should they choose. There are plenty of free agents to be had. Renner agrees that Kellen Davis isn't a long term answer for the Bears at the TE position. He suggests they get Martellus Bennett as a replacement.
There aren’t many tight ends on the market with Bennett’s skill set. He’s got the strength to move defensive ends in the run game, the size to prevent defenders making plays on the ball in coverage, and the hands to pick up yards and put points on the board.
In short, he’s everything the Bears need in a tight end.
I think Bennett is good but still a little inconsistent. My personal eye test saw too many dropped catchable balls but Bennett did finish with 626 yards and 5 TDs. As has been tossed around before, Trestman doesn't utilize his TEs much so maybe someone with the versatility of Bennett would be a good fit.
What do you think about these guys for the Bears?