The Bears' key offseason acquisition has already been made in the Jay Cutler trade. General Manager Jerry Angelo is on record that the draft will be used to add competition and depth at all positions, although he has acknowledged that wide receiver is a position of need. However, he has also stated that he will not reach for a wideout in any round simply to appease the fans and media.
As Peter King pointed out earlier this week, the Bears have only made three draft day trades in the past five years, trading down each time to collect more picks; so don't look for any more blockbuster moves. Rather, Angelo's strength is finding starting-quality talent in the middle rounds, and that strength will be tested this year. Despite public perception, the Bears still have plenty of ammunition in this draft, with six picks in the first six rounds and eight picks in total.
Wide receiver remains far and away the greatest need of this offseason. At best, the Bears have no more than 3 NFL-quality wideouts on their roster, and none is a clear-cut, NFL-grade starter. The Bears offense will run through its tight ends and its running back, Devin Hester should emerge as a legitimate deep threat, and Jay Cutler is the kind of quarterback who can enhance a receiver's strengths, so the team does not necessarily need to add elite, game breaking talents at the position. Instead, Angelo and Smith should focus on adding clean prospects who have the ability to get open and the hands to secure the football.
While wideout is the most pressing need, it is by no means the only position of focus in this draft. A playmaking safety and a pass rushing defensive end would do a lot to revive a defense that has slipped in recent years. While the Bears have made several key additions along the offensive line, the draft is always a good place to add youth and depth to that position group. Linebacker has not gotten a lot of attention in the press, but with an aging Brian Urlacher, uncertainty on the strongside, recent losses of key reserves, and the impending free agency of Jamar Williams, depth must be added to this group either in the later rounds or through free agency. Linebackers and defensive backs typically make for solid late round draft picks as they often make up the bulk of a squad's special teams units, and the Bears' front office likes to address the third phase in the middle to late rounds of the draft.
Round 2, Pick 17 (49)
Round 3, Pick 35 (99) (Compensatory selection)
Round 4, Pick 19 (119)
Round 5, Pick 4 (140) (From Seattle, through Denver)
Round 5, Pick 18 (154)
Round 6, Pick 17 (190)
Round 7, Pick 37 (246) (Compensatory selection)
Round 7, Pick 42 (251) (Compensatory selection)
Juaquin Iglesias, WR, Oklahoma
6'1", 210 lbs, 4.54 40 Yard Dash, 34.5 Vertical Jump, 9'8" Broad Jump, 4.40 20 Yard Shuttle
Iglesias will never be a classic deep threat, but he has adequate NFL size, intelligence, quickness, hands, toughness, and he's an experienced route-runner. He appears to have all the necessary qualities to at least be a solid, No. 2, posession receiver. He would complement Devin Hester well as a guy that Jay Cutler can count on to be productive in short to intermediate passing routes. The Bears could also consider a safety here, such as Louis Delmas of Western Michigan or Patrick Chung of Oregon. If Georgia Tech's Michael Johnson, an athletic freak at defensive end, falls this far, he would also be a solid addition at a position of need.
Herman Johnson, OT, LSU
6'7", 364 lbs, 5.51 40 Yard Dash, 21 Reps Bench Press
Johnson is one of the most naturally massive human beings on the planet, and is in pretty good shape for being the equivalent size of a small mountain. The Bears have the time to develop a talent like Johnson as their right tackle of the future, as he could learn behind veterans like Orlando Pace and Kevin Shaffer until he eventually teams with Chris Williams as a solid, young tackle tandem. He has surpising quickness and agility in the passing game and a solid hand punch and drive blocking skills to open holes for Matt Forte. Johnson also has experience at guard, and may be able to contribute there in the near-term. Texas Tech's Darcel McBath and Alabama's Rashad Jennings are two safeties that the Bears might look at with this pick. Kevin Ogletree, a wideout out of Virginia, is another player that has been linked to the Bears in the late third round. If a wide receiver is the pick, I would prefer a player like Austin Collie of BYU.
Brandon Tate, WR, North Carolina
6'0", 183 lbs
Tate carried a likely first round grade entering his senior season at North Carolina before tearing his ACL and MCL against Notre Dame. Unable to participate in the Combine, his stock began to fall. That fall only continued with questions about character and recent reports about a failed drug test for marijuana. This is the kind of pick that the Bears will not make because of past experiences with players like Tank Johnson. However, the Bears have a veteran team that could give Tate the support that he needs, and there is no question that he possesses the game breaking ability that is simply not found in fourth round wide receivers. Two other, less risky options at wideout are Patrick Turner of USC and Ramses Barden of Cal Poly, who would bring some needed size to the position group. If the wideout and safety positions are already addressed in rounds 2 and 3, the Bears may look to add an offensive lineman here like Seth Olsen of Iowa or Gerald Cadogan of Penn State. Jason Williams from Western Illinois is a sleeper at outside linebacker, and South Florida's Tyrone McKenzie could also be a good Sam in the Tampa 2.
Brandon Williams, DE, Texas Tech
6'5", 252 lbs, 5.0 40 Yard Dash, 33.0 Vertical Jump, 9'4" Broad Jump, 7.23 3 Cone Drill, 4.49 20 Yard Shuttle
Williams is strictly a pass rush specialist at this point in this career, which is fine, because that is exactly what the Bears need. He's the type of player that could spell either Ogunleye or Brown on passing downs. Williams was a productive player at Tech, earning first team All-Big 12 honors. He has a lanky, athletic frame that can carry more weight, and with time, he could develop into more of an every down player. In a sense, he is not that much different than Mark Anderson, and if added, the Bears would hope that Rod Marinelli can turn one or both into quality, pass rushing defensive ends- an absolute must-have in the Bears' defensive scheme. If Williams is not the pick, an offensive lineman like Gerald Cadogan may still be on the board, or the Bears may choose to pick a project like Oklahoma's Nic Harris at linebacker, who could be a fit in the Tampa 2.
Courtney Greene, S, Rutgers
6'0", 212 lbs, 4.52 40 Yard Dash, 21 Reps Bench Press, 34.5 Vertical Jump, 9'8" Broad Jump, 7.36 3 Cone Drill, 4.18 20 Yard Shuttle
Courtney Greene is an experienced, versatile player who can provide impact from a late round selection. While some have projected him as a strong safety in the NFL, he has played both safety positions in college and has the athleticism to play free safety, one of the Bears' positions of greatest need. He is a hard hitter who could be an enforcer in centerfield and was a leader on the Rutgers defense. Greene might be the right guy to replace Mike Brown. If the Bears are still looking at wide receivers this far back in the draft, South Carolina's Kenny McKinley is a productive player, though his lack of bulk may prevent him from becoming anything more than a third or fourth receiver. Mississippi's Ashlee Palmer and TCU's Stephen Hodge are safety/linebacker projects in the Nic Harris mold who could develop into a player and at a minimum provide special teams help. Texas Tech's Louis Vasquez is a 6'5", 333 pound guard who did 39 reps at the Combine, though there is some question as to how he will transistion from the spread attack to an NFL offense.
Cornelius Lewis, OT/OG, Tennessee State
6'4", 332 lbs, 5.25 40 Yard Dash, 29 Reps Bench Press, 24.5 Vertical Jump, 7'6" Broad Jump
Cornelius Lewis is a versatile offensive lineman with starting experience at right guard and both tackle positions. He projects as a guard in the NFL, and is a physical player with the mean streak necessary to make it professionally. If both he and Herman Johnson are selected and properly developed, they could provide a massive right side to break open holes for the Bears running game. If nothing else, Lewis could be a good backup at several positions along the line. Colorado State running back Gartrell Johnson and Washington State wide reciever Brandon Gibson are two intriguing prospects at this point in the draft. On the defensive side, linebackers Moise Fokou of Maryland, Worrell Williams of California, and Gerald McRath of Southern Miss all may get a look, as well as Oregon State's Brandon Hughes and Penn State's Lydell Sargeant at cornerback.
Derek Pegues, CB/S, Mississippi State
5'10", 199, 4.69 40 Yard Dash, 23 Reps Bench Press, 36.0 Vertical Jump, 9'11" Broad Jump, 7.08 3 Cone Drill, 4.31 20 Yard Shuttle
Josh Mauga, OLB, Nevada
6'1", 243 lbs
The Bears have two compensatory picks deep in the seventh and final round. At this point in the draft, a team is realistically hoping to find quality reserves that can contribute on special teams. Derek Pegues is a fairly athletic defensive back with good ball skills, something that the Bears covet. Josh Mauga is a versatile linebacker who simply makes tackles. Oregon's Fenuki Tupou and Oklahoma's Brandon Walker are two offensive lineman who may still be available and are worthy of a late round pick. Rutgers' Jamaal Westerman is a good football player at defensive end, but might be available as an undrafted free agent. At wide receiver, Ohio State's Brian Hartline is a late-round prospect with some skills and athletic ability, and Oklahoma's Manuel Johnson and Clemson's Aaron Kelly are two more wideouts to consider here or in free agency.
With only one pick in the back half of the top 50, but a number of picks between 99 and 200, the Bears need to focus on the best player available at each pick who fits a position of need. Yes, that is a cliche, but it is also true. From the late second round on, it becomes increasingly more difficult to find starters at specific positions, so the Bears should try to find good football players at any position. Any needs that go unaddressed can be filled with undrafted free agents, veteran free agents who remain unsigned, and players cut loose by other teams.