The Chicago Bears’ biggest needs heading into the 2015 draft
This was a big-time need before the Bears lost Stephen Paea, a budding young talent at the position, to the Washington Redskins in free agency. There are some potential veteran replacements left on the open market such as B.J. Raji and Barry Cofield, but high-talent players are abundant in the draft. Prospects like Washington's Danny Shelton have been on the radar forChicago's scouts, and many trusted mock drafts have at one time or the other projected Shelton to Chicago, which has the seventh pick of the draft. Texas' Malcolm Brown, USC's Leonard Williams, or Oregon's Arik Armstead are all high-level DT prospects whom the Bears can grab early, as is the talented Florida State DT Eddie Goldman.
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY SportsJoe Nicholson
The Bears hired former 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio this offseason. Both he and head coach John Fox like running a 3-4 defense. They've already begun building the defensive roster with players who fit a 3-4 scheme. Outside linebacker is pretty well built, especially with signings like former Ravens LB Pernell McPhee. The interior of the linebacking corps is soft and needs a boost. University of Miami standout ILB Denzel Perryman is the most tantilizing ILB prospect in the draft. Benardrick McKinney from Mississippi State, Clemson's Stephone Anthony, and UCLA's Eric Kendricks are also big-time prospects at the position. Many of the top ILB names are slated to get scooped up early in the second round or late in the first round, meaning these names could be there when the Bears pick again at No. 39.
Getty ImagesJared Wickerham
The secondary has slightly improved over the past few weeks. The Bears signed former Giants S Antrel Rolle to pair with young Brock Vereen and solid veteran Ryan Mundy. Cornerback is weak, though, outside of Kyle Fuller. The draft has a lot of quality CB prospects to choose from. Guys like Florida State's P.J. Williams, Miami (OH) standout Quinten Rollins, LSU's Jalen Collins, and Washington's Marcus Peters further bolster the class. The Bears may have a hard choice deciding among DT, ILB, DE, and CB as the positions to attack first and foremost with the seventh, 39th and 71st picks. Whatever they decide, going with a CB earlier rather than later is a good idea for a team that was porous against the pass in 2014.
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The Bears traded Brandon Marshall and a seventh-round pick to the New York Jets for a fifth-round pick back on March 6, and then signed former Chargers WR Eddie Royal to a three-year deal. Royal is a good No. 3 receiver, but Chicago needs another top-tier target to pair with No. 1 option Alshon Jeffery. The draft is primed to be deep at WR like it was in 2014. The Bears don't need to pick a receiver with their first-rounder given the depth of the position as well as bigger needs on defense. Michigan's Devin Funchess, Taylor Lockett from Kansas State or Duke's Jamison Crowder could all be available either in the second or third round.
There are numerous prospects here. Among the defensive ends: Kentucky's Alvin Dupree, Mississippi State's Preston Smith, UCLA's Owamagbe Odighizuwa or Mario Edwards Jr. from Florida State all fit the bill. Smith and Edwards Jr. are possible early second-round picks, which is good for Chicago. Prospects that fit the bill of a 3-4 rush end: Clemson's Vic Beasley, Washington's Swiss Army knife Shaq Thompson, and Florida's Dante Fowler all highlight the list, and all of them should be gobbled up before the second round. That said, the Bears have a variety of options when it comes to rush ends and have no need to rush their decision with this position.
Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Forte isn't getting any younger, and his teammates in the backfield are a mixed bag. Senorise Perry and Ka'Deem Carey are OK, but Forte and the Bears' backfield would benefit from adding a young RB prospect. There is a lot of depth in this draft, and while top-flight backs like Georgia's Todd Gurley, Wisconsin's Melvin Gordon and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah won't be available when the Bears go for a back later in the draft, Minnesota's David Cobb, Alabama's T.J. Yeldon, Florida State's Karlos Williams and Florida's Matt Jones all could be available then and could all add to a Chicago backfield in need of some depth.
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Jay Cutler's name has been included in some trade rumors, and speculation about his future is a hot-button issue for this franchise and its fans. There are some QB prospects the team could grab in the seventh, fifth or even the fourth round. Bryce Petty from Baylor, Sean Mannion from Oregon State and Nevada's Cody Fajardo are all guys the team could take a chance on. Jay Culter was kept on the roster prior to the start of the league year back on March 10, meaning he's locked in for both this coming season and the 2016 season. But his tenuous standing with the team leaves some room for a young upstart.