Draft Strategy

Barring a trade the Bears will have to wait more than 3 hours before they're on the clock Saturday. When their time comes there will be several different options including wideout, defensive line and linebacker. However one area is in need of an immediate upgrade.

The Bears have spent the entire offseason fortifying an anemic offense, adding four starters - tackle John Tait, running back Thomas Jones, guard Ruben Brown and fullback Bryan Johnson.

Common wisdom would dictate that defense would be addressed in the draft, especially considering that's head coach Lovie Smith's area of expertise.

But Smith is not conceding that he's finished with an offense that he has said all along isn't in need of rebuilding.

"We wanted to look at adding some play makers and look at our offensive line in particular," Smith said. "That's not to say that we wouldn't have done something with the defensive side (in free agency), but it just didn't work out that way.

"We're going to look at the value of the player going into the draft. Everybody says that, and obviously need will always be a consideration. We have a few areas of need that we feel we'll be able to have flexibility, particularly on the first day."

That being said, it would be a major surprise if the Bears didn't move immediately to improve a defensive line that won't impress anyone and should scare new coordinator Ron Rivera.

The tackle position needs a playmaker desperately, since it is currently populated by players who would be backups or stopgap starters on decent units. Starters Alfonso Boone and Bryan Robinson are backed up by Ian Scott and Tron LaFavor, neither of whom was terribly impressive last season.

The logical choice would be Miami's Vince Wilfork, who was one of the players to visit Halas Hall last weekend. If his weight is down around 325, Wilfork has enough quickness to play in the Bears' new scheme and also be a run-stopping force in the middle. If he plays at 350 or so, which he did at the beginning of last season, Wilfork will not fit into the Bears' plans.

The Bears would also consider the top two defensive ends in the draft, Southern Cal's Kenechi Udeze and Ohio State's Will Smith. Especially Udeze, who had 16 sacks last season and could make an immediate impact as a pass rusher at the very least. That's an area that needs to improve drastically, considering last season's franchise-worst total of 18 sacks.

If the Bears do not seek an upgrade on the d-line, it might be because they decide they cannot pass up the abundance of talent at wide receiver, where a big-play complement to Marty Booker would help the development of quarterback Rex Grossman.

Washington's Reggie Williams and Oklahoma State's Rashaun Woods could both be available at No. 14.

Jerry Angelo does not have a history of trading up in the draft, and it is extremely doubtful that he would consider moving up more than a couple spots because of the cost and because he values his drafts picks and believes that the draft is the primary tool in building a team.

They also won't move down more than a couple spots, since the consensus is that the talent drops off after about 16 players.


Bear Report Top Stories