The 2016 Draft Prospects are being scoured over in the Draft Prospects series. Free agency is mainly over with big shopping and some bargain bin hunting completed. We can turn the focus to the draft needs for each team in this four part series. We’ll start with the Chicago Bears. The Bears were active in free agency under Ryan Pace to fill holes on both offense and defense. The Bears still have some starting needs and some future needs. The Bears have 9 picks in the 2016 draft. Maybe they’ll give up all their picks for one guy.
NOTE: This series provides several draft options for various picks.
Starting Left Tackle
Charles Leno Jr is not a good left tackle. Bobbie Massie was added to play right tackle from the Cardinals and Jermon Bushord was cut this offseason after struggles in 2014 and 2015. The Bears could hope Leno develops after a year of poorly starting but he would be better suited as a backup swing tackle.
The Bears have plenty of interior protection with Kyle Long, Matt Slausen, Hronnis Grasu and Manny Ramirez and Ted Larsen. Massie struggled but is an experienced right tackle. The Bears should complete their offensive line by adding a left tackle at pick 11. Ronnie Stanley, Taylor Decker and Jack Conklin are great options at that pick.
The Bears options are more limited for an immediate left tackle at pick 41 or pick 72. Shonn Coleman, Germain Ifedi and Gerald Hawkins have some ability to play left tackle in the future.
Starting Defensive End
The Bears filled one hole with Akiem Hicks in free agency. However, the Bears still need another 3-4 DE. The Bears could make a bold move and trade for franchised Muhammed Wilkerson on a huge deal. They would have to give up pick 11 at least for this move and pay Wilkerson handsomely. However, there are some DEs available at pick 11, 41 or 72 in a deep defensive line draft.
Featured Running Back
The Bears lost Matt Forte in free agency. Forte was a huge part of the Bears offense. Jeremy Langford was a rookie 4th round pick last year and showed some flashes but Langford doesn’t seem like a stud number 1 running back. Langford had 6 TDs but a very poor YPC and elusive rating. The Bears could add a stud running back. Ezekial Elliot could be selected at pick 11 if he drops out of the top 10. Pick 42, 71 or Round 4 would also be great spots to add a back including Devonte Booker or Derrick Henry.
Starting Cornerback and Nickelback
The Bears re-signed Tracy Porter and nickel back Sherrick McManis. However, they should upgrade at the number 2 and nickel cornerback spot after weak performances by those players in2 2015. Mackenzie Alexander and Eli Apple have some chance to be picked at 11 or after a trade down. The Bears could trade up into the top 10 if Jalen Ramsey or Vernon Hargreaves is on top of their CB list. Kendall Fuller, Artie Burns or William Jackson III provide pick 41 possibilities.
Possible Starting Strong Safety
Bears could take a safety at pick 41, pick 72, pick 106 or pick 129 to pair with free safety Adrian Amos. Vonn Bell, Karl Joseph, Darian Thompson, Jeremy Cash, Jalen Mills, Jaryon Kearse are all Round 2-4 prospects.
The Bears need a young backup QB and there are questions on Jay Cutler’s future in Chicago. The Bears using pick 11 on Carson Wentz, Paxton Lynch or Jared Goff is very possible. Pick 41 could be possible for Connor Cook or pick 72 could be used on Cardale Jones or Christian Hackenberg if Pace goes insane.
Wide Receiver/Weapons (TE or pass catching RB)
Eddie Royal did not play well in the slot under a free agent deal. Kevin White is coming off a major injury and stud WR Alshon Jeffrey is only on the franchise tag.
Martellus Bennett was traded but Zach Miller was re-signed at TE. The Bears took White in Round 1 in 2015 which lowers the probability of pick 11 used at WR (unless you are Matt Millen).
However, if Jeffrey’s contract negotiations are not going well, Corey Coleman, Laquan Treadwell or Josh Doctson (after a trade down) all remain possibilities in Round 1 for the Bears. Pick 41allows the Bears to think about drafting Michael Thomas, Will Fuller or Braxton Miller. Most likely the Bears use a pick for WR with pick 72 or later. Tight end is more likely in Round 2-4 or late for the Bears.
The Bears have four to five positional starting needs. They have 9 picks including five in the first round rounds to help them. We’ll see if GM Ryan Pace avoids injury risks after the Kevin White debacle. This will be Pace’s second draft as the Bears GM. He has built the talent at LB, interior Oline, nose tackle, free safety and one DE spot. We’ll see if Pace can finish the job for the Bears starting lineup and if Pace looks towards the future at QB early in the draft.