What's The Plan?
Add picks, continue overhaul on OL
Jay Cutler has plenty of weapons on offense to succeed.
But when it comes to better protecting their starting quarterback, the Bears still have plenty of work to do.
At the very least, the Bears should entertain the idea of creating more competition at right tackle and left guard, while also planning for the future at center since veteran Roberto Garza is entering the final year of his contract.
The first plan of attack should be to trade down from No. 20.
But if the Bears are unable to strike a deal and stockpile additional picks, the club needs to give serious consideration to selecting another offensive lineman in the first round, if one remains on the board worthy of going that high.
Therein lies the problem.
The worst thing for the Bears to do is to reach at No. 20.
If tackles D.J. Fluker and Lane Johnson and guards Jonathan Cooper and Chance Warmack are off the board, it might be wise to move on to another position, unless the Bears are sold on Oregon guard Kyle Long or Florida State offensive tackle Menelik Watson.
Long and Watson could be wild cards if, as many expect, all the top offensive lineman are gone by the time the Bears go on the clock.
But if the Bears can somehow improve the offensive line in the first round and also take a center later in the draft, the group charged with protecting Cutler would be transformed from a liability into a possible team strength.
While it's always fun to add more skill-position players into the mix, the Bears have enough of those to win. Can you say the same about the offensive line?
Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.
Cutler could still use more weapons
The Chicago Bears addressed myriad issues along the offensive line through free agency, adding at least two starters in tackle Jermon Bushrod and guard Matt Slauson, and a possible third in Eben Britton.
Now it's time to supplement the skill-position players at QB Jay Cutler's disposal by using the first-round pick on a receiver or tight end.
Addressing needs on both lines makes sense, but the draft is deep enough to use picks on those areas in later rounds. In the first round, however, the Bears shouldn't pass on dynamic playmakers on offense.
Why, you ask? It's simple. With Cutler entering the final year of his contract, there's no guarantee he'll be back in 2014. So by adding weapons, the Bears do two things. First, they give Cutler a better chance to succeed and earn that lucrative contract extension that's hanging in the balance. Second, if the Bears decide Cutler isn't their quarterback moving forward, they've at least stocked the offense with enough talent for the next man to succeed.
We know how difficult it is for teams to land quarterback talent. But if the Bears stock the offense with dynamic players, a veteran journeyman could come in and achieve at least modest success while the quarterback of the future -- provided the Bears draft him -- sits back, watches and learns the position.
Remember Rich Gannon? Well, he had played for three teams and was a veteran journeyman in 1999 when he joined the Oakland Raiders and finally became a Pro Bowler in his 13th season. Working with quarterback guru and new Bears coach Marc Trestman -- Oakland's offensive coordinator at the time -- Gannon became the NFL's MVP in 2002.
The playmakers around Gannon and Trestman's tutelage made all the difference that year. Oakland's receiving corps, consisting of Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Jerry Porter, combined for 2,829 yards and 18 touchdowns. Running back Charlie Garner rushed for 962 yards and added 941 receiving yards. Tight ends Doug Jolley and Roland Williams contributed 622 yards and two TDs.
So the formula has been established. The Bears just need to grab all the ingredients.
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.