The NFL season is not officially over, but for all intents and purposes it is for fans of teams not involved in the big game in New Orleans next Sunday.
Many fans are beginning to turn their attention to the draft and free agency. The major scouting season is already underway with the East-West Shrine game being played last week and the Senior Bowl going on this week. There are plenty of prospects to be talked about and draft boards are already beginning to get shuffled and changed.
While there is still plenty of evaluating still come, this article isn't going to be a rundown of "who" so much as "what." The Bears and new coach Marc Trestman have several big roster decisions to make and some positions of need to be filled. However, in what order should these positions be targeted?
For starters, the Bears have only five draft picks; a 1st round selection (20th overall), second round, fourth round, fifth round and sixth round. They traded their third round pick for Brandon Marshall and their seventh round selection was sent to Tampa Bay in exchange for Brian Price.
This will be assuming the Bears gain no other picks through trade or by be awarded any compensatory picks. What do the Bears want to target with their five picks?
In no order, it is believed that the Bears' top position targets are OT, OG, TE and MLB. The second question is, in what order should these positions be targeted?
Phil Emery has said that he is a "best available" drafting general manager. This means he will target whatever player, more or less regardless of position, is highest on his board. That 'more or less regardless of position' was there because it's likely that if the number one QB is available at no. 20 that Emery wouldn't pick him because the Bears do not have a great need at QB at this point.
In my opinion, it will be Trestman and Emery's wish to spend their first pick on the offensive side of the ball. Trestman is an offensive coach, Emery spent two weeks interviewing numerous prospects, mostly on the offensive side of the ball. In his introductory press conference Trestman talked extensively about the offensive side of the ball; the QB play, the need to protect the football, etc.
For that reason I believe Emery and Trestman will target an offensive lineman or play-making TE right off the bat in the first round to kick off the Trestman era with a stalwart player for the offensive side of the ball that fans will hopefully watch for years and years.
However, I believe that the one defensive position they could target in round one is middle linebacker. If the Bears indeed decide to sever ties with Brian Urlacher in free agency, they may want to target a replacement for that position to begin the process of moving on from the Urlacher years and replace a face of the franchise all-time great.
Therefore, I believe the order of top targets in round one will be OT > TE > MLB. The best available OT will trump the other two and so on. But if it's number one TE or number 3 or 4 OT then maybe it's TE and if it's number one or two MLB over the third or fourth best TE and the third or fourth best OT then it'll be MLB.
In round two they will target whatever they didn't get in round one. By the time the Bears get on the clock in round four, I expect they might start looking beyond those top four positions of need. They may want to look at wide receivers in that round. From Brad Biggs:
Beyond a tight end to occupy the middle third of the field, a serious need for Marc Trestman's new coaching staff, the Bears could use a wide receiver who can be a vertical threat.
But the offense cannot bank on anything from Knox and there will be options in the draft. The idea is to find a budget bargain who can get on top of safeties and force them to turn and run. That would give quarterback Jay Cutler chances to take shots down the field.
Phil Emery talked about the need to attack the middle of the field and while a new TE would go a long way towards doing that, as would using Matt Forte in more passing routes, but also getting a receiver who could stretch the defense would help open up the middle of the field for those TE/RB routes.
In round five and six I could see Emery getting back to the offensive line with a good center prospect or a guard and then looking for some good defensive depth.
There is still a lot of time between now and the draft and the boards will no doubt change and once major free agency plays out it will be a lot easier to get an idea of what the Bears want to target in round one.
In what order and/or what positions do you want to see the Bears target come April?