When we put the poll up a couple days ago asking which position was the biggest need for the Chicago Bears, that was before Chicago had a defensive coordinator in place. With Vic Fangio, a 3-4 guy hired, that may change some of the needs for the 2015 Bears defense.
If the Bears do convert to a 3-4, or at the very least begin incorporating some 3-4 looks into their scheme next season, then the position that won the poll, Linebacker, could be the same thing as the position that came in 3rd in the poll, Pass Rusher.
I'll take a look at some inside linebackers and also some pass rushing 3-4 outside linebackers for the Bears next year.
First up, some potential free agents.
Justin Houston may the the top pass rusher on the market (22 sacks in 2014) and would give Vic Fangio the outside linebacker he needs to run the 3-4 defense. The Kansas City Chiefs could tag him, but there have been no talks about a long term deal between the two sides.
Washington isn't expected to re-sign Brian Orapko after missing most of the 2014 season with a torn pectoral. he only had a half a sack last year, but has 40 sacks in his 6 year career.
Baltimore's Pernell McPhee picked up 7.5 sacks in his first year as a 3-4 OLB.
Pittsburgh's Jason Worilds turned down an extension offer from the Steelers this summer. he has played both ROLB and LOLB in their 3-4 defense picking up 15.5 sacks the last two seasons.
The other Brandon Marshall, the linebacker for Denver, is a restricted free agent that played weak side 4-3 OLB last year for John Fox. He may not fit the prototypical build of a 3-4 OLB, but he has the physicality to play inside if the Bears move to a 30 front.
Brandon Spikes is an ILB that was with Buffalo last year, but he spent the previous 4 years in New England. He's solid against the run.
Another 2 down ILB is Cincinnati's Ray Maualuga. He had a down year in 2014 and a change of scenery may do him well.
Tampa Bay's Mason Foster has spent his entire 4 year career in the Bucs 4-3 D, but he was mostly playing in the middle for them.
Jamari Lattimore started 5 of 11 games last season fro the Packers before going on IR with an ankle injury. Green Bay has used him at both OLB and ILB in their 3-4 D.
Inside linebacker Darryl Sharpton may have spent last year with the Bears, but his previous 4 years was in Houston where they run a 3-4.
2015 DRAFT PROSPECTS
Clemson's Vic Beasley is a pass rushing OLB that could fit in either a 4-3 or a 3-4. One scout compares him to Denver's Von Miller.
Florida's Dante Fowler looks the part of a 3-4 pass rushing OLB and he's been mocked to the Bears this season already.
Louisville's 6'4 OLB Lorenzo Mauldin is a mid round prospect that has a knack for getting to the QB.
Versatile Oregon OLB Tony Washington can get to the QB, but also drop and play in coverage.
Benardrick McKinney of Mississippi State mat be the top ILB in the upcoming draft. The redshirt junior has also rushed the passer from an OLB position.
Miami's Denzel Perryman has the kind of compact frame (5'11, 244) that seems suited for ILB.
Do any of these linebacker possibilities intrigue you?
Make sure to vote for your number two need for the Chicago Bears and we'll look at a few options at that position next time.