The needs that the Bears have going into the 2011 NFL Draft are very obvious. First, they need help at each position on the offensive line. The tackle position is shaky with Frank Omiyale and J’Marcus Webb handling those positions along with newly converted guard Chris Williams and the aging Roberto Garza manning the guard positions. Then there is center Olin Kreutz who isn’t getting any younger.
It’s time for some change on the offensive line and the Bears can accomplish this change by taking a look at drafting an offensive lineman with their first pick in the draft.
Another need that Chicago has going into the draft is at the defensive tackle position. It doesn’t appear as if the team is going to keep defensive tackle Tommie Harris around any longer thanks to his contract costs and the fact that he really isn’t playing that well any longer. If he does go (and even if he doesn’t) the team will want to look for someone else to help fill a role on the line.
Finally, the Bears third biggest need is at the wide receiver position. Chicago still doesn’t have at true number one wide receiver on the team and if they can’t find one in free agency then they will have to look for one in the draft. The problem is getting a number one wide receiver would cost them either their first or second round pick (because of the talent level involved with a number one wide receiver) and they may not be ready to reach that far to take a rookie receiver. But they need the help so anything is possible.
The following is a look three players at each position that could interest the Bears when they make their pick in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft.
Jonathan Baldwin-Wide Receiver-Pittsburgh-The Bears need help at the wide receiver position and at the position that they pick at in the first round (at number 30) they may find Pittsburgh’s Jonathan Baldwin there. Baldwin has the size and the speed that Chicago would want in a number one wide receiver and can catch the ball well. He is able to do a lot with the ball after the catch and works well when going up in the air to catch the ball.
Baldwin’s downside is that he needs to learn how to run better routes and is not an outstanding deep threat. He also needs to work on getting out of his breaks faster and may struggle catching deep passes. The route running issues may be of some concern for the Bears especially since their offense is heavily reliant on accurate route running.
Baldwin could draw some interest from the Bears because he fits the mold of the kind of player that the Bears would want for a number one wide receiver. He’s definitely someone that could interest the Bears with the 30th pick in the first round and could help improve their passing game greatly.
Corey Liuget-DT-Illinois-Perhaps you haven’t heard of Liuget but as we head into the 2011 NFL Draft, you will hear his name much more often. Liuget played his college football just south of Chicago in Champaign at the University of Illinois and is a guy that the Bears may have had their eye on for a little while.
Liuget is a great athlete who is very capable of getting into an opponents backfield and causing problems in both the passing and the running game. He’s got nice moves (being able to move up and down the line of scrimmage). He’s also a strong athlete that has a lot of explosion off of the line.
The downside to Liuget is that he doesn’t have a lot of experience having started just one season at Illinois and may not have the experience that the Bears would like to see in a defensive tackle. He does need to learn some additional pass rushing moves and also needs to get better hand placement on opposing offensive linemen.
Liuget is an interesting prospect that the Bears may have already been taking some looks at because he’s a fairly local prospect. While there is some room for improvement and that he may need some work but for what the Bears are looking for right now (a guy that can come in and rotate in their current offensive line rotation) he just might be a good fit.
The big issue is where will he get drafted? Right now he’s slotted to go in the first round (somewhere right around where the Bears are making their pick) so if Chicago wants him they would need to take him in the first round. The problem with that is they would sacrifice taking an offensive lineman (their biggest need) with that pick.
Mike Pouncey-G/C-Florida-Just think of the advantages that the Bears would have if they drafted Pouncey. They could sign current center Olin Kreutz to a one or two year deal and allow him to man the center while Pouncey gets adjusted to things by playing at the guard position (quite possibly in place of Roberto Garza). That would be killing two birds with one stone.
Pouncey comes from good bloodlines as his brother, Maukice, was an All-Star with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a rookie this season. He has great size and is very powerful and as mentioned, he can play both the guard and center positions. This would be a huge advantage for the Bears. He has the experience that is ideal for a collegiate offensive lineman and has the size to take on heavier defensive linemen.
The downside to Pouncey is that he’s not as good of an athlete as some might want to see at the position and needs work on his pass blocking. He’s not a candidate to flip outside to tackle so he will have to stay inside.
It would be great if the Bears could get Pouncey in the draft because of his versatility. Imagine him keeping the guard position locked down for a year or two while the Bears draft to fill that position either next year or the next. If he’s there when the Bears make their first pick in the draft they have to get Pouncey.