QuarterbackSay what you want about Jay Cutler, and there are plenty of negatives from a year ago since he led the league with 26 interceptions, but he brings as many physical tools to the table as any signal caller in the NFL. Few second stringers have as little experience as Caleb Hanie, but he was working on his third consecutive impressive preseason before getting hurt two Saturdays ago in San Diego. While early reports have not been kind to sixth-round pick Dan LeFevour, and Matt Gutierrez was on the street before Hanie's injury, veteran Todd Collins has been a quality reserve for a decade and a half.
Running BackBased on that 89-yard touchdown gallop he authored this past Saturday against the Raiders, it looks like Matt Forte is ready to bounce back from his sophomore slump and better resemble the 1,200-yard sensation he was as a rookie. One of the more experienced backups in football, Chester Taylor used to play behind Jamal Lewis in Baltimore and Adrian Peterson in Minnesota, and not only did he ruffle no feathers, but he was productive when given the ball. Both Kahlil Bell and Garrett Wolfe are worthy of being No. 3, although Bell more for his offensive talents and Wolfe because of his special-teams ability.
Wide ReceiverBoth Devin Hester and Johnny Knox may have a long way to go before they are truly polished pass catchers at the game's highest level, but each of them has the kind of ankle-breaking elusiveness you simply can't coach. If Devin Aromashodu can play throughout 2010 as well as he did down the stretch in 2009, he could end up being the best of the bunch with his combination of size, speed and hands. Rashied Davis has documented success when working out of the slot, Juaquin Iglesias was impressing with the first team before an injury slowed him down in camp and Earl Bennett, who was a solid starter last season, was falling down the depth chart even before he got banged up, largely because of the development of Knox and Aromashodu.
Tight EndOffensive coordinator Mike Martz has never gone out of his way to feature the tight end in his scheme, but he has also never had this many players at the position capable of making plays down the field. Greg Olsen, Desmond Clark and Kellen Davis were targeted liberally in camp, with Cutler finding Olsen deep down the seam quite often and Hanie looking Davis' way on long corner routes almost as frequently. While free-agent addition Brandon Manumaleuna has watched more than he has practiced because of an offseason scope on his knee, he's regarded as perhaps the best blocking tight end in the NFL and should help the offensive line open holes.
Offensive LineFrom the inside out, while center Olin Kreutz may not be a Pro Bowler anymore after six selections earlier in his career, he should be healthier following offseason surgery on his Achilles and remains the unquestioned leader of the locker room. At guard, Roberto Garza is getting a shot on the left side after being entrenched on the right side since 2005, and Lance Louis has the attention of offensive line coach Mike Tice because of his athleticism and nasty attitude. And then at tackle, Chris Williams was a first-round pick three Aprils ago for a reason, and Frank Omiyale can't possibly be as bad at right tackle as he was a year ago at left guard.
The VerdictTight end. Even if Martz has never had anyone at that position catch more than the 38 passes Ernie Conwell did for the 2001 Rams, Olsen is practically a receiver at this point, Clark is being called an H-back because of his versatility and Manumaleuna is the blocker-first option Martz prefers. Every team would like to have a No. 4 as big and talented as Davis, too.
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John Crist is the Publisher of BearReport.com, a Heisman Trophy voter and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.
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