Evan Silva, the Senior NFL Editor for Rotoworld, is looking at the projected starting offenses and defenses in the NFL, and ranking them from best to worst. His Post-Draft NFL Lineup Rankings has a few surprises in the top 10, starting with his top team the . Apparently he's buying the same thing the various NFL Power Rankings are buying, and that's that the Seahawks will be much improved in 2013.
What has caught my eye the most is his number eight team, the Chicago Bears. At this point of the year, all we have to go off is how the teams look on paper, so do you think the Bears have top 10 talent on their starting units?
Here's how Silva projects the Bears starting offense (the asterisk denotes new additions).
QB: Jay Cutler
RB: Matt Forte
WR: Brandon Marshall
WR: Alshon Jeffery
WR: Earl Bennett
TE: Martellus Bennett*
LT: Jermon Bushrod*
LG: Kyle Long*
C: Roberto Garza
RG: Gabe Carimi
RT: J'Marcus Webb
I find it interesting that he has both Kyle Long and Gabe Carimi starting at the guards. Don't get me wrong, I really hope these two win the jobs in camp. Long has the strength and athleticism to be a very good pro at left guard, he just needs experience. James Brown was starting there at the initial veteran mini camp, but I do believe Long will have every opportunity to with the job.
Over on the right side, Matt Slauson was taking first team reps at the mini camp, while flip flopping with Brown. If Gabe Carimi improves so much that he can displace a guy that has started 48 straight games in the NFL, that bodes well for his future. Carimi was a mauling type tackle in college, and that's what prompted Jerry Angelo to draft him. If Carimi can transition his skill set to guard, the Bears could be set for years.
Here's what Silva had to say about the overall offense for the Bears.
Chicago is gearing up to play pass-first offense under rookie coach Marc Trestman, and approached the offseason accordingly. Although not an elite tackle, Bushrod finally gives the Bears credibility on Cutler's blindside, while 6-foot-6, 313-pound first-rounder Long is a dancing bear at left guard. The other three line positions should be up for grabs between the trio penciled in here, guard Matt Slauson, swingmen Eben Britton and James Brown, and tackle Jonathan Scott. The line remains suspect, but should still be the best of Cutler's Bears career. His weaponry certainly is. Marshall is an All-Pro in the thick of his prime. Bennett is arguably the most underrated all-around tight end in football and will be a difference maker both as a blocker and red-zone threat. 2012 second-round pick Jeffery is a wildcard with big upside if Trestman can instill in Cutler a willingness to work through his progressions. That'll be a big deal for the Bears.
I think Cutler having time to work though his progressions is the bigger point. If he has time to throw the ball, this offense will make marked improvements over last year.
Defensively Silva sees the Bears starting out this way.
RE: Julius Peppers
LE: Corey Wootton
DT: Henry Melton
DT: Stephen Paea
MLB: Jon Bostic*
WLB: Lance Briggs
SLB: D.J. Williams*
RCB: Charles Tillman
LCB: Tim Jennings
FS: Chris Conte
SS: Major Wright
The only surprise I see is the absence of James Anderson. Anderson was signed to be the strong side linebacker, and it was D.J. Williams signed to man the middle. Silva believes rookie Jon Bostic will win the mike backer spot, and I'd be OK if that came to fruition also.
I like this skill set Bostic can bring to the middle linebacker spot for the Bears. Pass coverage may be an issue initially, but he does have the speed and athleticism to drop middle third and cover. His being able to have his athletic ability shine on the football field and do it is yet to be seen, but the ability is there.
Here's his assessment of the Bears defense.
Like Ray Lewis in Baltimore, Brian Urlacher's departure may hurt in the leadership department but will be addition by subtraction on the field. Playing on two balky knees, Urlacher was nothing short of a stiff in 2012, getting feasted on by opponents particularly in pass coverage. It was time to turn the page. The Bears will keep their Cover-2 base intact under new coordinator Mel Tucker and are armed with ample talent to equal last year's top-five finish on defense. They'll definitely be faster to the ball at the second level. In the nickel, Paea will leave the field in favor of a four-man front consisting of Peppers, up-and-comer Wootton, three-technique Melton, and 2012 first-round pick Shea McClellin. They'll be in the hunt to lead the NFL in sacks.
I can't argue with the Bears top 10 ranking, the pieces are in place for teh defense to maintain a high level of play, and I really like the additions to the offense.
Of course, if the Bears suffer any injuries, it's yet to be seen if Phil Emery has acquired the depth to withstand key losses.
What do you guys think of the list by Evan Silva, and do you think he has the Bears about where they should be?