I think our long-winded GM was on to something when said that we need to take a good long look at every position on the defense. We need to get younger. The most important group that he needs to evaluate is the defensive line.That group effects everything else on the defense. Our defensive line needs to set the tone for our entire group.
If we look back to last year, the offensive line as a complete mess. Emery and Co. had limited resources and decided to beef up the offensive line. The result was a high scoring, competent offense for the first time a lot of us had ever seen. I think that it is amazing with four new starters on the line, they performed as well as they did.The blocking was excellent, as evidenced by the 30 (a little under 2 per game) sacks given up the entire season versus 44 in 2012 (ESPN). It goes to show, if you invest in the fundamentals such as blocking it improves your entire team.
This off-season I would like to see the Bears focus on our D-line. Injuries killed us especially with Melton and Collins. The shortage of bodies lead to the worst run defense known to man. Offensive lineman from the opposing side got to our linebackers way too easily. Wooten is not a tackle and McClellin is most certainly not built to be a full time defensive end in a 4-3.
In house decisions:
Melton-How effective is he after shredding his knee? I see him as a rotational piece coming off injury, and probably won't be as effective as his pre-injury status. He should be paid accordingly and not as a defensive centerpiece.
Peppers- Pay-cut or leave.
Collins- He is a restricted FA, so we may have to see what shakes down with him.
Ratliff- He was our best interior lineman against the run. Age is not on his side, but if he comes back cheap, he could be a nice rotational piece to our puzzle.
Wooton: I see him as an important cog. I think he has shown enough as an end to merit a resigning for the right value.
Instead of spending enormous sums of money on one lineman, I see Emery spreading the cash around and bringing in some high upside low risk "prove-it" deals as he did on offense with people such as Matt Slauson. A few signings of a veteran or a mid-level player.
Some possible Matt Slauson-like pick-ups for the d-line may be:
Kevin Williams MIN
Shaun Rodgers NYG
I think that our 1st round pick need to be a defensive tackle. Beefing up the interior will allow the rest to fall into place. Here are some possibilities.
Louis Nix- If he's there at 14 we should pick him no questions asked.
Ra'Shede Hageman- This is an Emery kind of guy. He's huge and athletic. Think of him as a Kyle Long of the defensive line, if picked.
What is everyone else's opinion on this subject?