What's Next?

With the need for a veteran quarterback out of the way, the Bears still have holes to fill. Here's a look at the top priorities with the draft just over a month away.

1. Cornerback: Jerry Azumah had to retire because of hip and neck injuries. He was due to be an unrestricted free agent the team didn't plan on re-signing anyway, so the position was already on the radar.

Nathan Vasher went to his first Pro Bowl and is a tremendous athlete with a nose for interceptions, even though he is undersized and doesn't have great speed. Charles Tillman, the other starter, may not be able to match up against smaller, quicker, faster receivers and could be better suited to safety. He still managed to pick off five passes and is willing to come up in the run support.

None of the backups from last season did anything to distinguish themselves. CB Dante Wesley is the only other free agent addition to the roster aside from QB Brian Griese. Wesley's primary role will be on special teams, but he could add something at the bottom of the depth chart.

2. Tight end: This position has been an afterthought in the Bears' passing game for years and with good reason. It's been a long time since they've had anyone worthy of throwing the ball to on a regular basis, and they haven't had a talented all-around player at the position since Mike Ditka was a player. Lacking a proven No. 2 receiver to complement Muhsin Muhammad, a receiving threat at tight end is even more critical to the development of the Bears' passing game and young quarterback Rex Grossman.

The team re-signed John Gilmore, who is the best blocking tight end on the roster. Pushing him to third on the depth chart with Desmond Clark sliding down a notch from the starter's role would make this position much stronger.

3. Wide receiver: The league's No. 31 passing game needs more consistent playmakers to complement Muhammad, who struggled to do it alone last year. Rookie Mark Bradley and second-year guy Bernard Berrian have potential and made some big plays last season, but Bradley is coming back from a torn ACL and Berrian's durability is a major question mark. Justin Gage has the size to be a factor on jump balls and in the red zone, but his production has also been inconsistent.

"At wide receiver, we've got some young guys that can definitely step up and be stars in this league," said QB Rex Grossman.

Still the Bears made a play for Antwaan Randle El, but were unable to land him on the open market. Speed is what the Bears are looking for at wideout. The question is whether the team will use a first day selection on the position for a third straight year.


Bear Report Top Stories