The 2011 Chicago Bears started their season with a 7-3 record and were headed towards the playoffs. Unfortunately, key injuries to running-back Matt Forte and quarterback Jay Cutler caused the Bears to stumble to an 8-8 record. They missed the playoffs and find themselves drafting 18th overall in the 2012 draft.
In the 2012 off-season, the Bears need to address:
1) Wide Receiver position – The Bears have not had a premier receiver since Marty Booker back in 2001-2003. That all changed this off-season with the acquisition of Pro Bowl Wide Receiver Brandon Marshall. The Chicago Bears traded their 2012 3rd round pick, as well as their 2013 3rd round pick to the Miami Dolphins to acquire him. Another reason why this was such a big move is due to the fact that he is reunited with Jay Cutler, his former quarterback in Denver. At the time, Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall where a top 5 Quarterback/Wide Receiver tandem in the NFL. It makes the reunion in Chicago a dangerous one to say the least, and it solidifies their offense by balancing out the production with running-back Matt Forte.
2) Free Agency – The Bears went out and signed running-back Michael Bush from the Oakland Raiders. Signing Bush was an interesting move considering that Forte is a top 10 running-back in the NFL. Some speculate this move was made in case Forte holds out and wants a new contract. The Bears applied the franchise tag to Forte earlier this year. Other free agents the Bears signed where: QB Jason Campbell, WR Eric Weems, CB Kelvin Hayden, WR Devin Thomas, (re-signed) CB Tim Jennings, (re-signed) TE Kellen Davis, (re-signed) DE Israel Idonije, (re-signed) S Craig Steltz, and (re-signed) QB Josh McCown.
3) Draft Needs – The Bears are entering this draft with four main needs being Wide Receiver, Offensive Tackle, Cornerback, and Saftey. Signing Brandon Marshall does not mean that the wide receiver position is not an issue. Besides Marshall, they have many question marks at the position. After a gruesome tackle that broke Johnny Knox’s back, his return is quite questionable. Roy Williams is a free agent and it’s probable that he doesn’t even get signed by any team in 2012. Earl Bennett is an up-and-comer who played with quarterback Jay Cutler at Vanderbilt. The Bears also signed Devin Thomas who was drafted in the 2008 NFL Draft as an early second round pick. He was a draft bust to say the least. The Bears must find a number two receiver in this draft.
4) Draft Day – There are a handful of prospects that maybe available to the Bears come draft day that can fill their needs. At offensive tackle, Jonathan Martin out of Stanford could solidify the depth on the Bears offensive line. At wide receiver, if Michael Floyd falls to the Bears at 18, he has to be a strong consideration at the pick. As for the secondary, guys like Dre Kirkpatrick and Stephone Gilmore at the cornerback positions could fit into the Bears defensive schemes very well. And at safety, the only prospect would have to be Mark Barron but many speculate that he will be drafted before the Bears can get their hands on him.
As of right now, the BTK 4.0 Mock Draft has the Bears selecting Offensive Tackle Jonathan Martin.
Written By – David Rantisi- NFL Draft and NFC North Writer
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