ESPNChicago.com continues its daily Bears draft preview series with a look at the tight ends.
The acquisition of veteran Martellus Bennett in free agency should have alleviated the need to add a tight end in the upcoming draft, but apparently the Chicago Bears might not stop there, judging from their interest in Stanford's Zach Ertz.
According to sources, the team is genuinely interested in Ertz as a second tight end. So, if there's interest in Ertz from the Bears, the club is surely also eyeing the draft's top prospect: Tyler Eifert of Notre Dame.
"Obviously, you see the Patriots with the two tight ends and how they utilize that," Eifert said. "An offense like that would be beneficial to me personally. I'm lucky to be coming in at a time where the type of tight end that I am is being used quite a bit in the passing game, but (I'm) also a guy that can stay in the game on every down and can also block (and) create matchup problems in the passing game."
With the roles of tight ends expanding around the NFL, and many teams utilizing more two tight end formations to exploit matchups in passing and running situations, it makes sense the Bears would consider adding another vertical threat to the equation. But would the Bears do that at the peril of not filling other perceived needs at linebacker, defensive tackle and along the offensive line?
It's a possibility, given the emphasis of the team to add an impact player, regardless of position.
"Last year we were in a very similar spot, and we had about seven players on the board that we felt good about, and we took one of them. I'm assuming now working through this process that that number will probably be seven to 10 that we feel good about," Bears general manager Phil Emery said. "We'll find the best player that can help us win now; the one that has the biggest impact now."
The next 10: 11. Joseph Fauria, UCLA, 6-7, 259; 12. Matt Furstenburg, Maryland, 6-3, 242; 13. Nick Kasa, Colorado, 6-6, 269; 14. Jake Stoneburger, Ohio State, 6-3, 252; 15. Mychal Rivera, Tennessee, 6-3, 242; 16. MarQueis Gray, Minnesota, 6-3, 240; 17. Kyle Juszczyk, Harvard, 6-1, 248; 18. Jack Doyle, Western Kentucky, 6-5, 254; 19. Justice Cunningham, South Carolina, 6-2, 258; 20. D.C. Jefferson, Rutgers, 6-6, 255.
Position grade: C+
Analysis: Bennett's presence makes it less likely the Bears will use their first-round pick on a tight end, but Emery hasn't built a long enough track record to indicate whether he'll go against the conventional thought of adding a player at a position of need. New Bears tight ends coach Andy Bischoff has been vocal about the changing nature of the tight end position, and the need for the club to add a dynamic player at the position that can exploit defenses all over the field. Eifert and Ertz possess those qualities. Certainly, the Bears will be in the position at 20 to draft one of them. The club could also explore the possibility of moving back to a position late in the first round or early second, where they could still land a player such as Ertz. According to sources, at least one tight end is among the seven to 10 prospects the club is considering with its first-round selection.