The focus of the 2013 offseason has been on the offensive side of the ball. It was where lay the reasons for firing Lovie Smith, hiring Marc Trestman and the three most significant personnel moves in free agency.
Those will be the end of Bears’ efforts at upgrades. Some will be coming next weekend in the NFL draft:
2013 Bears: Starter Jay Cutler is in place, for this season. Veteran backup Josh McCown is in place, for this season, although whether as the No. 2 or 3 remains to play out. What’s missing is a young quarterback in the pipeline who, as Aaron Rodgers did in Green Bay, Russell Wilson did in Seattle, Colin Kaeperick did in San Francisco and myriad others have done, can step up to fill an immediate need, to develop into either an alternative to the incumbent or to become a talent in training for possible trade material for the right price.
[RELATED: Bears can't overlook QB in the draft]
“I don’t see that you can have a winning franchise and a championship franchise without a high-quality quarterback, so you want to give yourself as many chances as possible,” said general manager Phil Emery. “They’re also very valuable from a trade perspective. You see how Matt Flynn has bounced around from Green Bay as an example. So if we could find a quarterback every year and we had the picks to do that, we would do that.”
[Draft Capsule: Tennessee QB Tyler Bray]
2013 draft: The current class has none of the firepower of the 2012 group that saw Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill go within the first eight picks of the draft. What this draft does have is a cluster of quarterbacks slotted as quality picks in rounds 2-4.
[Draft Capsule: N.C. State QB Mike Glennon]
“Very few teams are going to look at a quarterback early,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper.
Draft projecting: The Bears have spent four draft choices in the last four drafts on quarterbacks: No. 1’s in 2009 and 2010 on Cutler, a No. 6 in 2010 on Dan LeFevour and a No. 5 in 2011 on Nathan Enderle. By passing on signing available backups this offseason – Brady Quinn, Matt Leinart and so on – the Bears gave the strongest indication yet that they do intend to give Trestman and QB coach Matt Cavanaugh a young quarterback to shape.
“I’d like to draft a quarterback every year," Emery said. "If we could find the right quarterback, those are very valuable in terms of the position.”
Likelihood to draft: High. Rounds 2-4.
[Draft Capsule: USC QB Matt Barkley]
2013 Bears: The Bears signed Matt Forte to a long-term contract prior last training camp 2012, with $17 million guaranteed on a four-year deal. Early last offseason they brought in Michael Bush, also on a four-year contract, with $7 million the $14 million guaranteed. They re-signed Armando Allen to a one-year deal. Few spots on the depth chart are as strongly staffed.
[Draft Capsule: Stony Brook RB Miguel Maysonet]
2013 draft: Much was made of the way Alabama running back Eddie Lacy trampled Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o. But Lacy has been slotted as a late-first-rounder at best. Wisconsin’s Montee Ball has crept into some first-round scenarios. But “I would say that the running backs…are average,” Emery said.
Draft projecting: The offense did not make enough use of the running backs it had last season. Emery and the Bears are unlikely to use one of their five picks (currently) on this position of strength for a draft class no better than “average.”
[Draft Capsule: Florida RB Mike Gillislee]
Likelihood to draft: Low. Rounds 6-7 for special teams.