Evan Silva, who is the Senior Football Writer at Rotoworld, has ranked every roster in the NFL from best to worst. This is the second year in a row he's done the pre-draft roster rankings, and he has had the same team atop his list each year, the defending champion Seattle Seahawks.
Last season he had the Chicago Bears at 7th overall with a roster that included right guard Gabe Carimi, right tackle J'Marcus Webb, strong safety Major Wright, outside linebacker James Anderson and defensive end Julius Peppers. Those faces, along with a few others, have obviously changed for his 2014 version, but will the changes keep the Bears in his top 10?
Checking in at #10, just below the 9th ranked Indianapolis Colts and above their NFC North rival Detroit Lions, is the Chicago Bears.
Here's what Silva said about Chicago's offense.
Offensive Overview: What a difference a year makes. In one season under coach Marc Trestman, the Bears transitioned from a defensive- to offensive-oriented team. We'll get to the defense in a minute, but the offense is a precisely-orchestrated, high-octane engine that returns all 11 starters after finishing second in the league in points scored. GM Phil Emery places a premium on big wide receivers, which translates to exceptional red-zone efficiency, and Forte has proven an ideal schematic fit in Trestman's pass-first scheme. The offensive line has quickly gone from a major weakness to a strength. 6-foot-3, 194-pound sophomore Wilson is a 2014 breakout candidate. As is Cutler, who was on pace for career-best statistics in his first season under quarterback whisperer Trestman before ankle and groin injuries largely ruined his second half.
Last year we were all hoping that Trestman could transition his explosive west coast offense, which he tweaked for the CFL, back to an NFL style. He not only did that, he took it to historic heights. The offense was very good, and there are still a few bugs to work out in 2014. The future is definitely bright for this unit.
Silva mentions wide out Marquess Wilson as a breakout candidate, and if his off season work in Florida tells us anything, it's that he's dedicated to his craft. Physically he's bulked up, and mentally, working with his teammates has to have him better prepared for year number two.
Last season the Bears defense took an unexpected fall down the ratings. Most us us believed there would be some drop off, but no one predicted it would be that bad. Injuries were a big part of the problem, but the players simply weren't making plays. Hopefully year two of the Mel Tucker experience will be closer to what Bears fans have in mind.
Here's Silva's take on the Bears D.
Defensive Overview: Defense is the obvious weakness of Emery's team, but he did well to patch holes in free agency and can enter the draft with a passable front seven in place. Allen's snaps need to be scaled back at age 32, but he is coming off an 11.5-sack season and can still cause havoc if managed properly. Houston will be an enormous run defense upgrade and likely kick inside on nickel downs. McClellin failed at defensive end, but has all the tools to be a functional Sam 'backer. Look for Emery to invest two early-round draft picks at defensive back, targeting a Week 1 starting safety and 33-year-old Tillman's heir apparent. As is, this defense remains a bottom-15 unit, but isn't remotely the league-worst group it finished last season as.
I may be in the minority, but I'm excited to see Shea McClellin fight it out for the starting strong side outside linebacker position. He's leaner, he's stronger, and he's faster than at any point in his career. When he was drafted I envisioned a role similar to that of former Bear Rosevelt Colvin, who played OLB and rushed the passer on 3rd down from 1999-2002. If he can solidify his role on the team, that will go a long way to erasing the bust label.
I agree that the Bears will look to address the secondary in the draft, but I also think defensive tackle will be in the early mix.
Here's Evan Silva's full top 10.
1) Seattle Seahawks
2) Denver Broncos
3) San Francisco 49ers
4) New England Patriots
5) New Orleans Saints
6) Green Bay Packers
7) Cincinnati Bengals
8) Philadelphia Eagles
9) Indianapolis Colts
10) Chicago Bears
Each of the nine teams above the Bears were in the playoffs in 2013.
How do you feel about the Bears' ranking 10th this off season?