Well, 2012 is in the books and it ended pretty badly for the Bears as they missed out on the playoffs yet again. After a solid start to the season, they ended up relying on another team to enable them to make the post season, and I guess it just wasn't to be. And 2013 has started with what are viewing as a positive move by the organization - the firing of head coach Lovie Smith.
With the Bears season being over for the time being, why don't we take a really early look at some potential first round targets for Chicago in this year's NFL draft. As it stands right now, they will be drafting 20th, so let's see who might be available by the time the Phil Emery et al are on the clock.
Eric Fisher - OT, Central Michigan
Fisher is tall at 6'7 and is bulky enough in the upper body to boss opposing defensive linemen around. Pass protection is no problem, as Fisher is well balanced and has good footwork. His run blocking skills are above average, and can get out into the open field to take on the second level.
Overall, Fisher is a passionate, hard working player who would definitely look to bolster the ranks at the offensive line position; a place where the Bears still need the most improvement.
Sheldon Richardson - DT, Missouri
The Missouri junior stands at 6'2 and weighs in at 290 lbs, which might leave him slightly undersized in terms of a traditional defensive lineman, but has a great first step, consistently giving him an advantage coming off the snap. Richardson has no problem getting to the pass rusher, using brute force and some nifty moves to disrupt the passing game.
Could be a nice fit for the Bears if they are looking to take a defensive lineman with their first round pick, like they did with Shea McClellin last year. I am not sure, however, that the D-line will be a top priority for Chicago, as they performed pretty well this season, with Henry Melton getting voted to the Pro Bowl and Julius Peppers still looking decent. But if they see something that sparks their imagination, the Bears just might take a chance on Richardson.
Tyler Eifert - TE, Notre Dame
In his senior year, Eifert caught 44 passes for 624 yards and four touchdowns. He has good size at 6'6 and 250 lbs, and his top speed is pretty decent too. Tight end surely has to be a position that the Bears need to get a handle on, and although Kellen Davis will probably get another chance to show why he should be the number one, the Bears would be well advised to offer up some competition.
Eifert has good hands and can adjust well to the ball. he takes no issue with going across the middle to make the play, and plays well when used as a blocking tight end. Is versatile enough to line up out wide or in the slot, giving teams the option on how he can be used, which looks to be slowly becoming the norm in the NFL - tight ends who are athletic enough to play like wide receivers.
The Bears might feel that taking him in the 20th position is a little too high, but he's definitely one of the best tight ends in this year's draft. Could be worth a closer look.
Khaseem Greene - OLB, Rutgers
Had 126 tackles this year and 140 the year before that, so his production is strong. At 6'0 and 239 lbs, he may be a little on the small side, but possesses enough speed to partly make up for that.
Greene's career started at the safety position, before moving to linebacker in 2011. He is a natural leader, with a strong work ethic that shows on the field. He can evade blocks, and tracks the ball well from sideline to sideline.
Chicago are getting pretty long in the tooth when it comes to the linebacker position and it's a need they will need to address, sooner rather than later. And Greene could indeed fulfil that need.
Here's some videos of the players mentioned above:
SHELDON RICHARDSON TYLER EIFERT KHASEEM GREENE