Early-Bird Special: #20 – Chicago Bears

Now that the 2012 NFL Regular Season is in the books, it’s time to get an early look at the 2013 NFL Draft prospectus for each of the 20 NFL teams who now know their draft position in the first round.  We begin with the Chicago Bears at #20 overall.

The Bears are one of many teams who will have an upheaval in the coaching ranks, which will obviously have a huge impact on how their off-season will look, especially in the 2013 NFL Draft.  The team went 10-6, but missed the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, causing management to relieve head coach Lovie Smith of his duties.        bearslogo

Looking ahead to the Draft, it’s clear what the Bears’ strengths and weaknesses are.  While the defense was stellar, there are a few players who may be caught by father time fairly soon, and the team might be interested in using some high picks to replace them.  The most glaring need in Chicago, however, is along the offensive line, which could end up working to their advantage considering the depth of this year’s class at the tackle and guard positions.

At #20 overall, the Bears could have several attractive options if they choose to go O-Line with the pick.  With Texas A&M’s Jake Matthews most likely off the board at that point, Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher could be at the top of their list, as a big, athletic protector with a nasty mean streak.  If they choose to go with a guard instead, North Carolina’s Jonathan Cooper and Alabama’s Chance Warmack are the cream of this year’s crop at the position and would both be solid picks, especially if Fisher is already off the board.

Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher

Central Michigan OT Eric Fisher

On the defensive side of the ball, it might behoove them to look for an eventual (and more quickly than many Bears fans might like) replacement for either Brian Urlacher or Lance Briggs.  It’s likely that Notre Dame standout Manti Te’o will be long gone before pick #20, leaving no middle linebacker prospects worth that pick.  If they chose to look at outside linebacker, however, Kansas State’s Arthur Brown is a rangy, athletic defender who could definitely warrant serious consideration.

Injuries and a lack of depth crippled the Bears at critical times this year, and this draft should be all about building a stronger two-deep.  The scheme differences between Lovie Smith and whoever ends up replacing him will also be a huge factor in determining the roles of certain veterans, which will obviously have a big impact on the team’s draft plans.

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