Can the Bears Afford to Take a RB at 4?

Drafting for need can be a mistake. While wide receiver and left tackle remain the biggest holes on the offense, at this point it's unclear if there's a player at either position is worthy of the fourth pick. However, there could be three candidates at running back.

Thomas Jones was given good money (four years $10 million) to be the Bears starting running back. Despite missing two games and only getting one carry in a third because of injury, Jones had 1,375 yards of total offense with 7 touchdowns.

A passing game should loosen the line of scrimmage and allow Jones to use his speed, something he was able to do with Rex Grossman at quarterback.

All this would lead you to assume the Bears couldn't use the fourth pick in the draft on a running back. It would be a huge mistake to add talent at the only position you have a legitimate playmaker on offense.

Depending on what the Bears are able to accomplish in free agency the team would then have to select a wide receiver or left tackle with the fourth pick.

However, the problem is that there isn't a left tackle that should go in the top five and possibly not even the first 10.

Braylon Edwards and Mike Williams are rated as the best wideouts. Either could come in and start for the Bears. Still there are questions about Williams' effectiveness after sitting out a full year. The Bears could shy away from Edwards because of their past history with Michigan wide receivers.

If the team doesn't trade down to acquire multiple picks then going with either could be a stretch. Some of the questions should be answered in the next month with the NFL combine looming.

In the meantime, there are three Pro Bowl caliber running backs that will be available in April. Texas' Cedric Benson and the Auburn duo of Ronnie Brown and Carnell Williams could all be off the board by the seventh pick.

Benson has been projected to go to the Dolphins with the second pick and would replace Ricky Williams. San Francisco and Cleveland own the first and third picks respectively and both need a quarterback. That would leave the Bears their choice of Brown, Edwards, or either Williams.

Although in reality the Bears can't afford to take a running back, they could create a sellers market by posturing that they might take one as the best player available. That could force another team to panic and give up a pick or two in order to move up. Then the Bears could take a receiver and have an extra second round pick or a third because they gave up theirs in the Marty Booker for Adewale Ogunleye trade.

Making a decision based solely on necessity could lead to a bust, but the team has to take a chance when they have two major holes to fill. Adding an additional pick or two could brace the possibility of failure.

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