An aggressive first weeks of free agency by the Bears has created a situation in which “needs” have become “wants” -- as in the Bears “needed” a linebacker or two without Nick Roach and Brian Urlacher, vs. “wanting” a linebacker or two after the signings of James Anderson and D.J. Williams.
[RELATED: Bears' door not locked to Urlacher]
The Bears don’t “need” a left tackle after Jermon Bushrod, or “need” a tight end with Martellus Bennett in place. They “want” a pure speed receiver for the outside (who doesn’t?) and they “want” another receiving tight end. But their game-day lineups are largely set with veterans already.
But they have not dialed down every “need” to a “want.”
Signing former New York Jet Matt Slauson secures one guard spot, probably left guard, which he played primarily with the Jets. The Bears have a gaping chasm of unknown at the other guard.
Gabe Carimi is getting a look at guard because he didn’t work at tackle, or at least hasn’t yet. Edwin Williams is a valued inside swing man who had the left guard spot for two starts but then lost it to James Brown, an undrafted free agent and the fourth installment at the position.
[MORE: Bears' new togetherness only goes so far]
The Bears haven’t drafted a guard in a first round since Roger Davis in 1960. The last time they selected a guard in the second round was Eddie Michaels from Villanova. If the name isn’t familiar, it’s because it was the 1936 draft, the NFL’s first.
Phil Emery was brought in to, among other tasks, change what the Bears have done in the draft. Guard is a both a need as well as an area with some very enticing options in the late-first and second rounds.
“If you don't get [Alabama’s Chance] Warmack or [North Carolina’s Jonathan] Cooper, Justin Pugh from Syracuse who's a left tackle can be a guard, can be a center,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, who also cited a handful of lesser-knowns from smaller schools to watch.
“Ryan Jensen from Colorado State-Pueblo, Earl Watford, guard from James Madison, just to name a few there.”
No. 2 quarterback
Jay Cutler is ensconced as the No. 1 and Josh McCown as the No. 3, barring a roster surge by Matt Blanchard. As for the No. 2, however…
Normally a backup would not qualify as a true need, but little is “normally” when the position is quarterback. Unless the Bears want to continue plugging in veteran backups who cost more and have no chance of developing into Chicago starters (Jason Campbell, Todd Collins, even Brian Griese), the No. 2 at the position is an unequivocal need.
Cutler has not started 16 games in any of the last three seasons, including concussion inactives in 2010 and 2012 and his hand fracture in 2011. And there have been two knee injuries. The question no longer can afford to be if Cutler misses a game to injury, but when.
[MORE: Who are the Bears looking to take with first two picks in the Draft?]
The draft class of 2013 lends itself to a quarterback selection with other than a first-round choice.
“Ryan Nassib [Syracuse], early second [round]; Mike Glennon [North Carolina State], I think more third round; Landry Jones [Oklahoma], more third round; E.J. Manuel [Florida State], second round probably, at worst early third," Kiper said.
“Then you get Tyler Bray [Tennessee], third or fourth round; Tyler Wilson [Arkansas], third or fourth round. Zac Dysert is kind of sneaking in from Miami Ohio as a third-round possibility; Sean Renfree from Duke is a later-round possibility; and Matt Scott [Arizona] is kind of in that mid-round range. He's probably in that four to five, four- to six-round area.”
Kiper’s assessments generally reflected quarterbacks other than Matt Barkley from USC and Geno Smith of West Virginia, likely drafted to be Year 1 starters. The others are expected “to go to a team that doesn't have as critical a need but wants to look at a young quarterback that maybe feels like, ‘OK, let's see if we can develop him, put him off the radar for a couple years and develop him old school-way and see what happens there.”
Like the Bears.