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Chicago Bears Team Needs

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Chicago Bears Team Needs
By: Thomas J. Gersey

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Tight End
An absolute must need, the Bears will be devastated if they cannot address this position in the first round. If they go deep into the playoffs, Chicago may simply be drafting too late to get either Vernon Davis of Maryland or Marcedes Lewis of UCLA, both of which would be an immediate upgrade. Lewis is the superior pass catcher, and would quickly become the team's second best receiver. However, Davis is a capable receiver, while being a bigger, superior blocker. If neither is available in the first round, Chicago would be well served to look for Georgia's Leonard Pope or USC's Dominique Byrd in the second round, assuming either enters the draft. Pope is especially intriguing. Big and extremely athletic, he may have the most upside of any tight end in this draft. Byrd meanwhile has proven to be a tremendous safety valve in the Trojan offense, which would be of great use to the Bears and Grossman.

Outside Linebacker
Hunter Hillenmeyer has been solid if unspectacular the past two seasons, but the addition of a superior athlete to an already tremendous linebacking corps could push the Bear defense into historic status. Players like AJ Hawk and Chad Greenway are not likely to be available where the Bears pick. However, if the top two tight ends are gone, Chicago would be lucky to see speedy tackling machines Ernie Sims of Florida State or Alabama's DeMeco Ryans slip to them. If neither is available, the Bears would be smart to look for value in the third round or later, and try and grab UCLA's Spencer Havner or Washington State's Will Derting, both of whom excel in space, and add a new dimension by being excellent coverage backs. The most interesting possibility involves the slip of Florida State's AJ Nicholson due to legal problems. If he were to slip to the third, the Bears would be wise to grab this potential first round talent.

Wide Receiver
As discussed above, depth at the receiver position is an ongoing problem in Chicago. After the aging Muhsin Muhammed, and the raw Mark Bradley, no one has stepped up to make a name for himself. Unfortunately, the talent level of the receivers in this draft is low. If Ohio State's Santonio Holmes were to slip to them in the first round, the Bears would have an interesting dilemna. Holmes would quickly become the fastest player on the team, and would likely move Bradley to the slot position as a rookie. Derek Hagan of Arizona State is another possibility, but he is more of an early second round player, and would only be a wise pick late in the second. In all likelihood, the Bears will address this issue in the 4th round and on, where refined players like Hank Baskett of New Mexico or Mike Haas of Oregon State may be available. It would be a coup for the Bears if they could bring in a player such as Jason Hill of Washington State, whose size and leaping ability would immediately put pressure on Justin Gage to live up to his own hype.

Offensive Line Depth
Terrence Metcalf may walk, and players such as Olin Kreutz, John Tait and Ruben Brown aren't getting any younger. That being said, look for Chicago to pull a project out of the late rounds, or grab an early round talent who slips. Minnesota C Greg Eslinger, an All American deemed to small for the early rounds, would be a steal in the 3rd or 4th round, while Michigan T Adam Stenavich could be John Tait's replacement in three years.

Third String Quarterback
Not much of a need, but currently Jeff Blake sits as the third stringer, and he is far from the answer in the long term. UAB's strong armed Darrell Hackney or the fleet of foot Reggie McNeal of Texas A&M would be excellent prospects to bring along, while the troublesome Michael Vick would be worth a final round flyer. Despite his off the field problems, he offers the athleticism and strong arm that current third stringer Jeff Blake had when he entered the league.

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