The Chicago Bears have operated in their usual fashion this offseason. They’ve used free agency less to find their stars and more to fill needs. Several key positions have seen their depth improved from running back to inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and the offensive line. Andy Dalton was also secured to steady the quarterback position. It’s a decent start but there is still work to do.
With the odds of any big move for a veteran decreasing, all eyes have started to shift towards the NFL draft. For the first time since 2018, the Bears will have a 1st round pick to spend. It offers a prime opportunity to inject some much-needed young talent into the roster. Based on how things have gone? Experts have begun to assume which direction they’ll go.
It’s all about the offense.
Warning signs are there. They tried to sign Kenny Golladay and Trent Williams in free agency. The intent is obvious. Do what they can to surround Dalton with as much help as possible. That means a wide receiver or offensive tackle at #20 overall right? Not necessarily. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune spoke to a scout from another team who warns the growing belief of an offensive pick could be a smokescreen.
“There’s a gap after the first three, though, if you’re looking at a wide receiver at No. 20,” a national scout for an NFC team said. “There will be a lot of receivers available in the second round going into Round 3. The cornerbacks are going to be flying off the board before No. 52. I think there’s going to be more value at cornerback than receiver at No. 20.”
Remember that the Bears just lost Kyle Fuller, their #1 corner. They had to release him due to salary cap problems. Would GM Ryan Pace actually look to fill that void immediately with his top pick? Well, what the scout says isn’t entirely false. Using the player grades via Lance Zierlein of NFL.com and subtracting all names expected to be gone by the 20th pick, there is a difference in positional strength between wide receiver and cornerback.
- Greg Newsome II – 6.39
- Caleb Farley – 6.38
- Tyson Campbell – 6.37
- Elijah Moore – 6.41
- Kadarius Toney – 6.36
- Terrace Marshall – 6.34
Now some fans will argue they should go offensive tackle at that spot as well. A valid point. So for the sake of fairness, here are the top tackle options expected.
- Teven Jenkins – 6.42
- Liam Eichenberg – 6.27
- Stone Forsythe – 6.27
This seems to indicate what the scout said is true. The overall depth of talent at cornerback is considered better at that point in the draft than wide receiver or tackle.
Chicago Bears may try to lean on the defense one more time
Like it or not, that is where most of their star talent remains concentrated. Fuller was the only notable loss they suffered. Every other big name will be back in 2021 including Akiem Hicks. It has to be quite tempting for Pace to stick to what he knows best. Fortify the defense with another top young talent and keep it strong. Then focus on the offense in the later rounds. Remember they found Darnell Mooney in the 5th round last year. What’s to say they can’t find value again?
The problem is the Chicago Bears are in this mess because they can’t score points. To win in this era of the NFL, putting the ball in the end zone is what matters. Just nine points in a playoff game isn’t going to cut it. If they want to challenge Tampa Bay, Green Bay, or others in the NFC then they need to get serious about adding firepower. As much as possible.
Leaning on the defense hasn’t gotten them anywhere.
Even if there might be more value at cornerback at #20, there will still be good players at wide receiver and offensive tackle. Making the offense better is worth the sacrifice. Then again, the allure of pairing a top corner with Jaylon Johnson for years to come may be too good to pass up. Especially in a division that still has Aaron Rodgers.