Due to their salary cap situation, the Bears were held to smaller moves during free agency, while also opening up a big hole at cornerback by releasing Kyle Fuller. Here an updated look at their NFL Draft needs following the first wave of free agency.
Even if Andy Dalton were to bring some stability to the position this year and lead the Bears back to the playoffs, he’s still only on a one-year contract and is not the long-term solution at the position. General manager Ryan Pace must take another swing at the most important position in sports – this time with Matt Nagy, Bill Lazor and John DeFilippo heavily involved in the process. If the Bears were willing to give up a ransom for Russell Wilson, perhaps they’re willing to make a big move up in the first round of the NFL Draft. But even if that doesn’t happen, history tells us that at least one quarterback will fall within range of the 20
th overall pick.
This was already a big need before the Bears released Kyle Fuller, but now it is a huge need. Desmond Trufant isn’t as big of a drop off as you might think, but durability is a concern and the Bears were already thin at the position last year. Remember, Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley started the playoff game against the Saints and Jaylon Johnson’s shoulder issues might not disappear. As much as offense needs to be a focus for the Bears in the draft, taking a good, young corner at No. 20 would be justified.
Pace knows that taking wide receivers in the first round is risky (see: Kevin White) but there are some really good receivers in this draft and if there’s an early run on quarterbacks and offensive linemen, one of those receivers – perhaps Alabama’s Jalen Waddle or DeVonta Smith – could fall within range of the Bears. After making a run at Kenny Golladay in free agency, the Bears obviously understand that they need another wide receiver weapon and cannot rely on Anthony Miller to be consistent next to Allen Robinson and Darnell Mooney. Plus, if the Bears can’t reach a long-term deal with Robinson, they may need to replace him by 2022. If a talented instant-impact receiver is available at No. 20, the Bears shouldn’t hesitate.
As it stands right now, the Bears are set to run it back with their same offensive line, which is scary considering how poor that line played in the middle portion of the 2020 season. But injuries played a role in that and James Daniels’ return should boost the interior of the line, especially if Sam Mustipher can replicate his early success at center. That said, it’s time to address the tackle position, even if the Bears might be able to get away with adequate play from Charles Leno Jr. and Germain Ifedi. Neither player was a major problem at tackle in 2020, but the Bears should still be looking for upgrades, not only for 2021, but beyond as well. Neither Leno nor Ifedi are signed beyond the 2021 season.
Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw is one option that would make a lot of sense.
The Bears are locked into Robert Quinn’s massive contract for at least one more season, but if he wasn’t on the roster, we’d all be looking at that position as a major hole on the roster. Given Quinn’s lack of production in 2020, it is still a significant need. Quinn only played 51.2 percent of the team’s defensive snaps last season and there’s no guarantee he’ll be able to provide more this year. Perhaps second-year edge rusher Trevis Gipson can make a push for more playing time and the Bears did just sign Jeremiah Attaochu, who gave the Broncos five sacks last season, but the Bears have to do better taking advantage of Khalil Mack’s presence on the field. Adding another young pass rusher to the mix would make a lot of sense.
The Bears technically have a starting safety job unclaimed next to Eddie Jackson, but they’ve done well filling that spot with cheap veterans so it’s not a high priority in the draft. Bringing Tashaun Gipson back still makes a lot of sense.
Adding linemen never hurts and it would be smart to add another one on the defensive side with Akiem Hicks’ future still unclear.
There also isn’t a ton of depth behind Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet at tight end so if a dynamic “U” tight end were to slip to the Bears, they’d have to consider it. Heck, if Kyle Pitts somehow fell to No. 20, how could you pass on that? He’s special enough to fill the wide receiver and tight end needs at the same time.