The Chicago Bears didn’t do too much to bolster their roster on the open market, but the club looks to be slightly better off—if anything—after almost four weeks of 2013 NFL Free Agency. Let’s examine their updated team needs heading into the 2013 NFL Draft (in no particular order).
Lance Briggs (pictured above) has registered a total of 1,068 tackles with 12.0 sacks, 15 interceptions (for 254 yards and five scores) and 16 forced fumbles during his 10-year NFL career in Chicago.
He still has some left in the tank at 32-years-old, but the Bears parted ways with long-time star linebacker Brian Urlacher (also pictured) and lost Nick Roach—who was the starter on the strong side last year and was the team’s in-house candidate to replace Urlacher in the middle of the defense in 2013 before Roach landed with the Oakland Raiders in free agency.
The Bears recently acquired James Anderson and D.J. Williams, though the team could very well still draft a linebacker in the early rounds. In his latest mock draft, Oren Shiri projects the club to take Arthur Brown with the No. 20 overall pick and then to kick D.J. Williams out to the strong side.
In nine NFL seasons (all with the Denver Broncos), Williams has racked up 824 tackles with 20.5 sacks, two INTs and 13 forced fumbles, though the former 2004 first-round selection (No. 17 overall) out of Miami (FL) totaled just 14 tackles in seven games (one start) in 2012.
Anderson, 29, started 53 games and recorded 454 tackles with 8.0 sacks, three interceptions and five forced fumbles in seven seasons with the Carolina Panthers (2006-12). Other potential targets in the first two rounds could include Alec Ogletree, Kevin Minter, Manti Te’o and Khaseem Greene.
2. Offensive Line
The Bears bolstered their offensive line on the open market with the additions of Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson, but upgrades are still needed after allowing a whopping 44 sacks last year (Jay Cutler suffered 38 sacks, while Jason Campbell suffered the other six), along with the departure of Lance Louis (signed with Miami Dolphins).
Center (Roberto Garza) and left tackle (Jermon Bushrod) are currently the only two starting jobs settled along the offensive line heading into the upcoming three-day festivities in Radio City Music Hall.
Look for Gabe Carimi, J’Marcus Webb and Jonathan Scott to battle for a starting role during the offseason with at least two new additions through the draft. Potential targets in the first three rounds could include Jonathan Cooper, D.J. Fluker, Menelik Watson, David Bakhtiari, Larry Warford, Dallas Thomas, Justin Pugh and Kyle Long.
3. Wide Receiver
In his seventh NFL season and first year with the Bears, Brandon Marshall was an absolute beast, setting career-highs with 118 receptions for 1,508 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2012. However, he and Cutler had little help in the passing game, which finished 29th in the league last year.
There was so little help that Matt Forte finished second on the team with 44 catches for 340 yards and a score, followed by Earl Bennett with 29 receptions 375 yards and two TDs and Alshon Jeffery, who hauled in 24 passes for 367 yards and three TDs in 10 contests (six starts) in his rookie season.
Only two other players produced at least 100 receiving yards—Devin Hester with 23 receptions for 242 yards and a score and tight end Kellen Davis, who caught 19 passes for 229 yards and two TDs.
Martellus Bennett should have big role in the offense and Jeffery possesses plenty of potential and looks to emerge as the clear-cut No. 2 WR in his second season, but the Bears need to find a complimentary No. 3 WR through the draft.
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Michael Gartman is a College Football and NFL Senior Writer, the AFC South and NFC West Lead Writer and the Founder, CEO of GridironGrit.com. He’s also about to start reporting on topics across all sides of the political spectrum and analyze important issues in the liberty movement for a political website. Follow him @_MichaelGartman on Twitter. Be sure to ‘like’ Gridiron Grit on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @GridironGrit to keep up with the latest coverage on college football, the NFL and more!