The Chicago Bears struck early and often on Tuesday signing free agents and revamping their offense to fit the scheme of new head coach Matt Nagy’s vision. Five players on offense agreed to contracts with the team including wide receivers Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and tight end Trey Burton.
General manager Ryan Pace achieved his goal of surrounding quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with more weapons. The defense was not forgotten as both cornerback Prince Amukamara and linebacker Sam Acho were re-signed, but the moves on Tuesday appears to further dictate what the team’s direction may be heading towards the draft.
As the new league year began Wednesday, the big name trades and free agent signings became official with smaller deals expected later. The Bears addressed their biggest needs on offense, but their biggest need on defense will be hard to address during the rest of free agency. Finding prominent pass rushers will be hard for the team as free agency has a very thin market for quality pass rushers.
The re-signing of Amukamara tips the hand that the team could very well look towards the draft to address their void at pass-rushing.
Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and defensive end Akiem Hicks appear to be the only proven pass-rushers on the current roster following the release of outside linebackers Willie Young and Pernell McPhee. With both starting cornerbacks from 2017 expected to return next season, Pace could be looking to add either a linebacker or defensive end with the number eight pick in the draft to bolster the pass rush.
The team is in a favorable position to land that type of player maker due to the vast amount of quarterbacks expected to go early in the first round. Furthermore, in addition to a high level of quarterbacks, this year’s draft is full of high-level cornerbacks prospects.
Draft analysts believe that three to five quarterback prospects could be drafted within the top 10 picks, and only the Buccaneers and Colts are the only teams drafting ahead of the Bears that do not need a quarterback. The Colts are key to the Bears draft because they could possibly trade out of the third overall pick allowing a team that is quarterback needy to jump up.
If not, it is expected that they will select a defensive player which could be North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb, who is regarded as the best pass rushing prospect in the draft. The likelihood of slipping out of the top five picks is highly unlikely, but could happen if there is a run on quarterbacks and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley is drafted before him.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be another threat to take Chubb if he falls, but they are more likely to focus on retooling their offensive line and could take a tackle or guard. If Chubb falls to number eight, the Bears would likely draft him to pair him with Hicks and Goldman on the starting defensive line.
Another player that could be a target for the team could be Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds who is considered the best linebacker in the draft and quite possibly the most athletically gifted defensive player. What makes Edmunds special is that experts say he could either play both inside or outside linebacker and excel at either spot due to his athleticism.
The addition of either player would give the Bears pass defense a boost as it would provide another threat to sack the quarterback back either taking advantage of the attention paid to Floyd and Hicks, or providing more opportunities to the two of them. It is likely the Bears could trade back to obtain more picks, but it depends on the offers out there and if it doesn’t prove too costly on passing on a player that they like.
The quiet moves made for the defense via free agency by the Bears is a strong indicator of what they could be targeting when April 26th arrives.