Positional Analysis: Tight End

Considering the lack of production at wideout, adding a quality tight end would give the Bears a second option in the passing game to compliment veteran WR Muhsin Muhammad.

TIGHT END: Starter - Desmond Clark. Backups - John Gilmore, Gabe Reid.

As usual, the Bears got little production from the tight end position. The group tallied 28 receptions for 250 yards and 3 touchdowns with the vast majority of the production coming from Clark.

Clark is an inconsistent pass catcher without much speed, but he can be effective underneath, although the Bears' offense has a tendency to forget about the position for extended periods. He's a better blocker than the team expected when they signed him to a six-year deal in 2003, but he hasn't had the desired impact in the passing game.

Gilmore, an unrestricted free agent, has never been utilized as a receiver, but he has the best size and is considered the best blocker of the group. The six-foot-5, 260-pounder is solid on special teams and can catch the ball when given the rare opportunity. He has just two receptions over the past three seasons.

Reid, a restricted free agent, is the best receiver and has some run-after-the-catch ability, but he didn't get much playing time. His flaw is a limited ability to block. When he's on the field it signals to an opposing defense to watch the pass.

Expect this position to be addressed in the off-season. Free agency or the draft should offer an upgrade in talent as well as depth.

The crop of tight ends due to hit the open market could get a major boost over the next month. Dallas' Jason Witten and Denver's Jeb Putzier could become available before the start of free agency on March 3rd.

If the Bears don't find a veteran to their liking, there are at least three tight ends that could go in the first round. Many consider tight end to be a luxury position and with other holes to fill the 26th overall choice could be better served on another need. The depth of the class will allow quality to be found in the second and possibly even the third round.

Adding a tight end that can catch the ball would loosen up the line of scrimmage and have a dual effect for the offense. Not only would it give the quarterback an additional option when he drops back to pass, but make it more difficult for the opposing defense to cheat with a safety in an attempt to stop the run. The ground game had success despite consistently facing eight men in the box. Imagine what it could do with more room to run.

One concern with making a major investment in a tight end is the position's propensity for being on the sideline. The dual role of being an extra offensive lineman on some plays and running routes over the middle of the field opens a tight end up to taking punishment.

Therefore, the best solution could be to stay away from a veteran that already has wear and tear on their body and to draft a tight end outside of the first round in the hope that he can develop into a starter.

The flipside to taking a prospect that's not quite as NFL ready would leave Clark as the likely starter for at least one more season.

Scout.com contributed to this report.

Bear Report Top Stories