Here are Chicago Bears’ biggest positions of need after free agency additions

What positions might Bears be eyeing in the draft

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles walks on the sidelines prior to a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills, Saturday, Aug. 26, 2023, in Chicago.

Two weeks ago, Shaw Local took a look at where the Bears needed to improve ahead of free agency. Since then, it has been a busy couple of weeks for the organization.

The Bears made a number of key additions in free agency, notably signing running back D’Andre Swift and safety Kevin Byard, among others. The team also traded for receiver Keenan Allen, sending a fourth-round pick to the Chargers. To cap off a busy week, the Bears traded starting quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Bears are a much different team now than they were two weeks ago. Previously, we rated the top five areas of need in free agency as such:

  1. Defensive tackle
  2. Defensive end
  3. Wide receiver
  4. Safety
  5. Running back

The Bears’ three biggest additions came at three of those positions: Allen at receiver, Byard at safety and Swift at running back. NFL free agency isn’t over, but the biggest names are off the board. Any moves the Bears make now will likely be minor additions.

But the draft is just over a month away. So let’s revisit the areas of need following free agency.

1. Quarterback

USC quarterback Caleb Williams speaks during a press conference at the NFL combine in Indianapolis, Friday, March 1, 2024.

We left quarterback off the initial list for two reasons. One, Fields was still on the roster. Two, with the No. 1 pick, it was always more likely the Bears would draft a QB. Signing one in free agency was unlikely.

With Fields out of the picture now, this is the clear top priority. It’s probably the most anticlimactic as well. USC’s Caleb Williams is the huge favorite to become the first pick in next month’s draft. At this point, the entire NFL ecosystem would be shocked if the Bears decide to do anything other than draft Williams with the top pick. North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Michigan’s JJ McCarthy are the other top QB prospects.

Currently, the only quarterbacks on the roster are Tyson Bagent and Brett Rypien.

2. Defensive end

UCLA defensive lineman Laiatu Latu runs a play during the first half against Coastal Carolina Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023, in Pasadena, Calif.

An edge rusher feels like a real possibility for the Bears at the No. 9 overall pick. Wide receiver feels like a possibility too (more on that below). The Bears could also look to trade down several spots and still find one of the top edge rushers in this draft.

Currently, the Bears’ starters at defensive end are likely to be Montez Sweat and DeMarcus Walker, with Dominique Robinson and Khalid Kareem coming off the bench. Sweat is a beast, but the overall depth is lacking. The Bears need to make an addition here, and it needs to be a top priority.

Alabama’s Dallas Turner, Florida State’s Jared Verse, UCLA’s Laiatu Latu and Penn State’s Chop Robinson are some of the top edge rushers in the draft.

3. Defensive tackle

The Bears lost defensive tackle Justin Jones to the Arizona Cardinals, and haven’t made any significant additions to fill that starting spot. The question here is whether the Bears believe that second-year pro Gervon Dexter, a second-round pick last year, is ready to take over the starting role. The fact that the Bears didn’t sign a starting-caliber defensive tackle indicates that might be the case.

But it doesn’t rule out the Bears prioritizing this position in the draft. Top defensive tackles this year include Texas’ Byron Murphy II, Illinois’ Johnny Newton and Florida State’s Braden Fiske. It would be a little surprising to see the Bears go for a defensive tackle in the second round last year, then turn around and take another in the first round this year. But if the Bears trade down from No. 9, defensive tackle could be in play either in the first round or on Day 2.

4. Wide receiver

LSU receiver Malik Nabers reacts after his touchdown against Georgia State during a game in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023.

Trading for Allen shouldn’t mean the Bears are done at receiver. For one thing, Allen is only under contract for one season. If one of the top three receivers (Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabers and Washington’s Rome Odunze) drop to the Bears at No. 9, it feels like a no-brainer that they should take him. Imagine the Bears with Williams at quarterback, along with Allen, DJ Moore and a first-round rookie at receiver.

But the Bears also have a severe lack of draft picks (only four selections). Trading out of No. 9 is a real possibility, especially if none of those top three receivers remains on the board. This is a draft that appears to be deep in receiver talent. The Bears could find a talented one later in the first round, or if they pick up an additional Day 2 draft pick.

5. Offensive tackle

Safety and cornerback are now strengths of the roster. Running back appears to be as well. The Bears drafted right tackle Darnell Wright with the No. 10 overall pick a year ago. Wright’s not going anywhere. Poles and Eberflus are high on third-year left tackle Braxton Jones. But if there’s one position remaining on the offensive line where the Bears might want an upgrade, left tackle could be the one.

It’s hard to know what exactly Poles is thinking with the No. 9 pick. But we do know how much he values good offensive line play. If he sees a chance to upgrade the left tackle position, he will do it. It’s also possible that this is a lower priority and maybe the Bears look for someone in the third or fourth round.

Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, Penn State’s Olu Fashanu and Alabama’s JC Latham are the top tackle prospects this year.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.