The Bears 2016 season has ended, and mercifully so. A myriad of factors combined to make it one of the worst Bears seasons in recent memory... and that is saying something. So let's collectively throw that one on the funeral pyre of lost NFL seasons and look at the bright side. The 2017 season has already begun in earnest and we're moving into a portion of the calendar where the Bears excelled last year: the NFL Draft.
If there were highlights during the blight that is the 2016 Bears campaign they came almost exclusively from the draft. Ryan Pace and his army of evaluators had a strong showing during the 2016 draft. Many of those picks paid immediate dividends. Leonard Floyd proved that he was not a major liability against the run (as his detractors had claimed) and flashed his pass rushing potential. Cody Whitehair was a rock in the middle of the offensive line and looks to be force there moving forward. Jordan Howard's contribution to Chicago football in his inaugural campaign was beyond outstanding. He's given the Bears and offensive centerpiece they can build around for the near future.
The second tier of acquisitions wasn't bad either. Nick Kwiatkoski acquitted himself fairly well when the other ILB's were out of the lineup and Deiondre' Hall flashed playmaking potential as young corner. Add that to the fact the Bears stole Cre'Von LeBlanc out from under the Patriots noses after holding joint practices with them and Pace's 2016 body of work is a truly impressive haul of rookie talent.
Now he has to do it again.
The Bears are in hole talent-wise and they will not string together a significant or regular push towards the playoffs until that gap is filled. The team has a lot of money to play with in free agency this year but they need pair that with another significant draft haul to turn their fortunes around any time soon. And like a good neighbor, Draftwatch is here to help.
The Monsters of the Midway were monstrously poor in a few areas this year. The entire defensive secondary was pretty much an express lane for opposing offenses. Chicago has pressing needs at both safety and cornerback. Uncertainty clouds the game's most important position (QB) with many observers (including myself) believing Jay Cutler will not be on the roster next year. Toss in the facts that Alshon Jeffery could follow big money to greener pastures and Eddie Royal is highly likely to be cut, and WR could look a lot worse than it does now. Zach Miller missed significant time with injury at TE for the second out of the last 3 seasons and he is getting towards the end of his NFL shelf life. The argument for drafting a replacement from the strongest is class of TE's in some time is an easy one to make. That's plenty of holes to fill and cap cash will not plug them all. Pace and the Chicago scouts must have success in the upcoming draft.
With those needs in mind I polled the WCG writers to see what they thought were the most pressing holes to fill on Bears roster. With 10 voters (including me) this is how the tally stacked up*:
* - All voters cast their votes as if Alshon Jeffery stays a Chicago Bear in 2017. If he leaves, WR obviously vaults up the list immediately
One major caveat this year: I will not be looking at offensive line tape. I enjoy it, but it takes a massive amount of time and the Bears needs are probably lower on the offensive line than anywhere else on the roster.
Do you agree with the results? WCG readers are some of the wisest around so here's your chance to have your voices heard. Vote in the poll below on which position should be on top of the Bears offseason wish list. I'll total up the results and combine them with the writers poll. Then I will write about the top 5 prospects at each of the top 5 positions that were chosen. Draftwatch 2017: Buckle up, it's going to be a heck of a ride.