I’m not one to panic over my beloved Bears laying an egg against a seemingly superior 49ers squad. It’s just one game, right? What each of the Bears’ losses this year has shown us is that the team still has several glaring weaknesses. Clearly, the offensive line needs an overhaul. Jay Cutler’s livelihood depends on it. Part of that can be blamed on coaching and scheme, but if you have the wrong personnel, what result would you expect other than failure?
Greg Olsen may not have been Tony Gonzalez, but he provided Cutler a solid pass catching option at tight end. We can’t complain about the return on Olsen – the pick the Bears snagged from Carolina was used to bring in Brandon Marshall, who’s having another Pro Bowl-caliber season. The defense may be grabbing all the headlines, but the old guard of Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, and Charles Tillman are all on the gray side of 30. Sooner or later, the Bears need to pick up the man that will carry the torch for the new guard.
Even with six games remaining, it doesn’t hurt to look forward to the 2013 NFL draft to see how the Bears may be able to improve their roster. My projections are based off the Bears’ current record, 7-3, which puts them in line to have the 26th pick in the first round. This also takes into consideration potential underclassman who have yet to declare for the draft.
As a fan, I only hope he shows a firmer stance and addresses our most glaring needs first, especially when you consider our lack of draft picks. And if you want to put some money on them, you can always try to bet on william hill online betting and look for American football there
First-round selection (26)
Eric Fisher, OT Central Michigan
Just in case you neglected to tune in to the beating the Niners handed the Bears on Monday night, our offensive line is about three steps away from being considered a collection of grade schoolers playing Red Rover. Aldon Smith was constantly in the face of Jason Campbell, to the tune of 5.5 sacks. The Bears have whiffed on several offensive lineman over the past few seasons, so most fans will be reluctant if they decide to go the route of another lineman.
The offensive line has been the biggest area of concern since Jay Cutler came to town. If this team hopes to squeeze what remaining life they have from their aging defense, then the offense simply has to match their production. This seems to be a deep draft when it comes to offensive lineman, with six projected to be first-round selections by ESPN.com. Central Michigan tackle Eric Fisher fits the mold of the prototypical NFL bookend. His massive frame (6’7” 295lbs.) gives him excellent balance and his diverse footwork and solid lateral quickness makes him one of the most consistent pass blockers in college football. Coaches and teammates love his drive and his willingness to always provide a full effort until the whistle is blown. The competition he faces me be questionable compared to larger conferences, but Fisher could easily slide in and start on either end for the Bears from day one.
Other options – Zach Ertz, TE Stanford, Dallas Thomas, OT Tennessee, Johnathan Banks, CB Mississippi St.
Second-round selection (58)
Jake Matthews, OT Texas A&M
See the trend here? The Bears add another tackle prospect in Matthews. He’s started 29 consecutive games against elite competition, a trait that shows excellent durability. One of his best assets is his fantastic awareness in pass protection. Many coaches point to his commitment in the film room and the way he transfers that to the field. One draw back that’s visible on tape is his first step and initial contact aren’t always crisp. With more refined coaching, he could improve his above-average run and pass blocking into elite skills. Chicago could look to give Matthews time at guard to get his ears wet before moving him on one of the islands outside.
Other options – Barrett Jones, C Alabama, Everett Dawkins, DT Florida St., Desmond Trufant, CB Washington
Fourth-round selection (121)
Joseph Fauria, TE UCLA
Watching Kellen Davis this season has been painful. I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but the number of dropped passes is starting to get alarming. Joseph Fauria has a unique blend of Gronkowskian size (6’6” 255lbs.), bloodlines (his uncle Christian was an NFL tight end for 13 seasons) and ball skills to become one of the new hybrid tight ends NFL brass are falling in love with. Fauria uses his awesome reach and solid top end speed to separate from defenders and create mismatches over the middle of the field. One drawback is that he tries too often to overtake defenders with his size as opposed to refining his route-running ability. But as many people say, “You can’t teach size.” Even if he needs time to develop, Fauria’s size should pay immediate dividends in the red zone and on third down.
Other options – Nico Johnson, LB Alabama, Greg Reid, CB Florida St., Jordan Hill, DT Penn St.
Fifth-round selection (153)
Kwame Geathers, DT Georgia
His teammate Jarvis Jones may get all the glory, but Geathers is one of the main reasons he’s freed up to roam the field. Geathers’s massive frame (6’5” 350lbs) make him a load up the middle that will garner double-teams frequently. Teaming with the equally huge Johnathan Jenkins, Geathers has shown the ability to establish leverage and push the line of scrimmage backwards. Obviously, a drawback to his size would be a lack of quickness. Drafting a guy of this size late in the draft would give the Bears a solid rotational player that can provide a crunch in first and second down, especially if they are unable to resign Henry Melton.
Sixth-round selection (175)
Braxston Cave, C Notre Dame
With Roberto Garza on his last legs, the Bears need to find a replacement to manage their offensive line. Cave has struggled with injuries in the past, so there’s obvious risk there. However, his best assets are things the Bears have lacked on their offensive line since Olin Krutz left town. Cave has fantastic instincts for a center. His ability to identify pass rushers on all levels and adjust protection schemes on the fly will help keep Jay Cutler standing. On top of that, he finishes of blocks with authority and possesses good top-end speed. Many argue that center is the second most important position on the field behind quarterback, and the Bears could find their guy to fill that need for years to come.
Other options – James Ferentz, C Iowa, Demontre Hurst, CB Oklahoma, Blaize Foltz, OG TCU
Even if the Bears’ 2013 selection fail to spark an immediate impact, they would finally have the depth along the offensive line to slowly implement change. Defensively, there are more options to snag players through free agency. Bringing back a run stuffer may remind Bears fans of the success they had when Ted Washington and Keith Traylor freed up holes for Brian Urlacher and helped the Bears force 43 turnovers. New general manager Phil Emery has shown a willingness to take risks in the draft. As a fan, I only hope he shows a firmer stance and addresses our most glaring needs first, especially when you consider our lack of draft picks.