The Bears made some significant additions in free agency.
Tremaine Edmunds and T.J. Edwards will likely start at linebacker. Lineman Nate Davis should start at one of the guard positions. D’Onta Foreman should share time at running back with Khalil Herbert.
General manager Ryan Poles was a busy man. But the Bears still have plenty of areas that need to be shored up prior to the 2023 season. Below are the four biggest positions of need heading into next month’s draft.
1. Defensive end
The Bears had a league-worst 20 sacks last season. They signed free agent defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who recorded a career-high seven sacks with Tennessee last season, but the Bears are far from done at the position. After trading down to No. 9 overall, they are still in position to select one of the draft’s top pass rushers, if the board falls in their favor.
Just because this is the Bears’ No. 1 position of need doesn’t mean that Poles should definitely take a pass rusher at No. 9 overall. He should be looking to acquire the best player available at that spot. If the top pass rushers are already gone and there’s a high-level offensive tackle available, grab the tackle. This could also be a position that is addressed in the second round.
But the Bears should definitely be looking to find a defensive end with one of their four top 100 draft picks.
Names to watch: Myles Murphy, Clemson; Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech; Isaiah Foskey, Notre Dame; B.J. Ojulari, LSU; Nolan Smith, Georgia; Lukas Van Ness, Iowa.
2. Offensive tackle
There’s a gaping hole at the right tackle position on the depth chart. Larry Borom or Teven Jenkins might be the best option currently on the roster, but the Bears aren’t going to go into next season with either of them starting at right tackle.
Offensive tackle is a close second behind defensive end on the list of needs. The Bears addressed the interior by signing Davis, and they poked around at the possibility of adding free agent right tackle Mike McGlinchey before the Broncos swooped in and signed him. With several premium picks near the top of the draft, the Bears can absolutely find a starting tackle in the draft.
Much like defensive end, it probably all depends how the board falls in front of them. Northwestern’s Peter Skoronski and Ohio State’s Paris Johnson are probably worth taking at No. 9 overall, but there are also quality options in the second round.
Names to watch: Peter Skoronski, Northwestern; Paris Johnson, Ohio State; Broderick Jones, Georgia; Dawand Jones, Ohio State; Darnell Wright, Tennessee.
3. Defensive tackle
The Bears need to be better all across the defensive line, not just on the edge. They made one move at defensive tackle in free agency, signing veteran Andrew Billings, but they might not be done. They don’t have much depth. Backups Donovan Jeter and Andrew Brown are the only other defensive tackles currently on the roster.
There’s a very real possibility that Georgia tackle Jalen Carter could drop to the Bears at No. 9. It all depends how much NFL teams are turned off by the questions surrounding Carter off the field. Outside of drafting Carter, Clemson’s Bryan Bresee might be the only defensive tackle worthy of the No. 9 overall pick, but there are plenty of good options in rounds two and three.
Names to watch: Jalen Carter, Georgia; Bryan Breseee, Clemson; Siaki Ika, Baylor; Lukas Van Ness, Iowa; Mazi Smith, Michigan.
4. Wide receiver
With DJ Moore in the mix, receiver is less of a priority, but it’s still a position of need. There’s no guarantee that Chase Claypool will pan out in the starting lineup, and the bench is void of contributors beyond Equanimeous St. Brown. The Bears need another difference-maker.
TCU’s Quentin Johnston, USC’s Jordan Addison and Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba top the list this year, but they are all likely first-round picks. It would seem more likely that the Bears take a swing at a receiver in the second, third or fourth rounds.
Names to watch: Josh Downs, North Carolina; Zay Flowers, Boston College; Jalin Hyatt, Tennessee; Kayshon Boutte, LSU; Rashee Rice, SMU.