The Bears find themselves in a really interesting spot as we head towards Thursday's first round selection. There's no doubt that at this point they are a team in transition - 5-11 teams are rarely established "win now" teams - but there are also enough established players that the right supplemental pick or instant starter, with improved coaching, could push the team into semi-contention.
The division might not be in reach, nor a wild-card berth, if last year's eleven-win wild-card berths continue to hold true, especially with one of those wild-card berths in the hand of the 11-win Detroit Lions. The Bears find themselves in a rough spot, as they have two strong division rivals fighting ahead of them.
So how can the Bears be in "semi-contention" without a wild-card berth nor a realistic shot at the division crown?
The Bears find themselves in the same spot as they were the last couple years, with glaring holes scattered around the team, and older, established players that need younger players behind them. It's a roster that can either be supplemented with starters - such as a pass rusher, second wide receiver, or lineman of either side - or can be reinforced for later in the season and coming years, such as at quarterback, running back, or linebacker.
Three years ago, the Bears attempted to take a defensive end and a couple of offensive toys (Shea McClellin, Alshon Jeffery, Evan Rodriguez) and attempted to capitalize on the final year of one of the top defenses in the NFL. It was followed by a first-round offensive linemen and a bunch of defensive picks given a lot of playing time in two very bad defensive years.
Attempting to transition the Bears to an offensive team and capitalize on an aging defense didn't work as planned. This doesn't mean that the keeping the starters in place is a bad plan, it just didn't work in that fashion, for whatever reason.
It also doesn't mean that drafting an incumbent is guaranteed to work out either, as Shea McClellin at defensive end showed.
So, heading into Thursday's first round, which direction do you think the Bears under Ryan Pace and John Fox will choose to go?