For the better part of the past decade, the Bears defensively have rested on the twin pillars of linebackers Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher. But that is no longer. It is falling to GM Phil Emery to restock a position that has been in the set-it-and-forget-it region for the franchise.
2013 Bears: The signings of James Anderson to replace Nick Roach and D.J. Williams as Brian Urlacher’s successor takes care of the short term. Briggs is still a strong presence on the weak side, good enough to intercept two passes and break up 10, trailing only Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman.
[MOCK DRAFT: Is this the most unpredictable NFL Draft ever?]
But Anderson and Williams are on one-year deals and none of Blake Costanzo, Dom DeCicco or J.T. Thomas are being thought of as starters.
2013 draft: The Bears had Kansas State’s Arthur Brown in for a visit and Brown, like Alec Ogletree from Georgia, is considered a potential fit either in the middle or outside. Ogletree is a consensus first-rounder; Brown is considered a target the Bears would be able to pick up later than No. 20 in the first round.
Manti Te’o has been projected to the Bears at 20 and also as far down as the second round. Few players in this draft have been debated as extensively as Te’o and rightly for reasons of performance. Believers cite his 2012 body of work. The critics point to Alabama.
What makes the draft class more difficult to assess is the outside linebackers who are hybrids, some better suited to more pass rushing/blitzing than the Bears have customarily asked their edge linebackers to do.
Draft projecting: Williams is not a clear solution in the middle, particularly with playing less than half a season in 2012. And a concern in particular with MLB is whether a rookie can step in as a starter, and Emery is looking for impact out of top picks.
Likelihood to draft: Very high. Rounds 1-2.