Now that the major free agent signings have been finalized, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three needs for each team heading into the 2016 NFL Draft. Today, the Chicago Bears draft needs will be examined. Chicago made huge strides in free agency, but look to further their depth with the 11th overall pick in the draft.
Chicago Bears 2016 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
Chicago really did work in this free agency. The Bears signed two of the top linebackers and a top defensive end in Akiem Hicks. Chicago features a group of guys who were all productive last season. But to maximize the effect of Lamar Houston on the left side, they’ll want to target another edge rusher. Chicago’s big board should have Joey Bosa and DeForest Buckner at one and two. It’s a possibility either falls to Chicago, unlikely as it may seem. But there’s a lot of confusion at the top of the draft still. Two guys Chicago had heavy interest in behind Bosa and Buckner are Shaq Lawson and Robert Nkemdiche. Both are fine outside rushers. Lawson gathers interest from Chicago because of his versatility. He split his snaps working as a five-technique rusher and even a standing outside linebacker. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio puts heavy value on guys that can line up comfortably in a few spots on the line. With his height and weight being 6’3″ and 269 pounds, he holds enough speed to compete in many spots.
The Bears only really have one trustworthy pass catching option at tight end. Zach Miller can’t do all the work though. The Bears will look to have plenty of options available for Cutler after the loss of Matt Forte. Forte accounted for over over 100 receptions a few years ago and might have been able to reach that mark again if he was healthy. Cutler didn’t respond fantastically to the absence of Forte in the stat column, partly because he’s not a very impressive quarterback, but mainly because he lost such a deadly weapon. Chicago can bolster their lineup with top tight end prospect Hunter Henry out of Arkansas. He’s not projected to go first round in many mock drafts, allowing for a safe and smart selection if they decide to take him in round two.
Oh no. That’s not a good thing. You can rap and jab all you want about Jay Culter and his performance/potential/team leading ability but there are a few facts that cannot be ignored.
1. He’s statistically the tenth to 15th best quarterback in the NFL.
2. He’s 33 years old
3. There aren’t many quarterbacks in the NFL who are safe. At any given time, there’s usually less than 13 quarterbacks who are making their teams/fanbases happy.
Take a look at the NFL.com’s list for top quarterbacks last season [http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap3000000619129/article/qb-index-yearend-rankings]. How many of them aren’t on the hot seat? Where does Chicago lie? Half the city believes in Cutler, the other half doesn’t. Selecting a quarterback later in the draft doesn’t harm either party. It can put a sense of urgency in Cutler to perform at a higher level. While at the same time, Chicago can begin developing a future franchise face that had time to study Jay Cutler. Take that as you will.