ESPNChicago.com continues its Bears draft preview series with a look at the linebackers.
No single Chicago Bears position group on defense underwent a more radical transformation than linebacker.
The new starters are productive players with experience, but the fact each signed just a one-year deal signals the Bears are still looking to get younger at the position, likely via the upcoming NFL Draft. That would explain why the club has hosted several linebackers on official pre-draft visits, such as: Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, Kansas State's Arthur Brown, Oregon's Kiko Alonso, Missouri's Zaviar Gooden, Rutgers' Khaseem Greene and Florida's Jon Bostic.
The Bears have also been linked to Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree in numerous mock drafts.
Where there is smoke, there is usually fire.
The Bears missed on the majority of the linebackers they've selected since Lance Briggs was chosen in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft, which means there is a sense of urgency to find a future starter at the position, not just a special teams contributor. The Bears did a nice job to address the short-term with Williams and Anderson, but the draft should provide general manager Phil Emery with the opportunity to plan for the future at linebacker.
Next ten: Sio Moore, Connecticut, 6-1, 245; Corey Lemonier, Auburn, 6-4; Zaviar Gooden, Missouri, 6-2, 234; Trevardo Williams, Connecticut, 6-1, 241; Chase Thomas, Stanford, 6-3, 244; Sean Porter, Texas A&M, 6-1, 229; A.J. Klein, Iowa State, 6-1, 250; DeVonte Holloman, South Carolina, 6-2, 243; Gerald Hodges, Penn State, 6-1, 243; Jon Bostic, Florida, 6-1, 245.
Analysis: Given the high number of pre-draft visits, there is no reason to believe the Bears are not interested in grabbing a linebacker at some point, probably in the first three rounds -- the Bears don't currently own a third-round pick due to last year's Brandon Marshall trade with the Miami Dolphins. The amount of time and effort the club has spent on second- or third-round prospects like Brown, Alonso, Gooden and Greene suggests the Bears have a contingency plan in place in the event they are not comfortable using their first round pick on a linebacker, if they, in fact, fail to trade down as many expect. It would be a mild surprise if the Bears make in through draft weekend without adding at least one linebacker to the roster.