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Weakest Positions On Bears’ Roster Following NFL Draft

General Manager Ryan Poles just completed his first NFL draft with the Chicago Bears. We went in not knowing what his draft tendencies were or how aggressive he would be.

It’s still hard to get a read on Poles’ thought process following the draft. Considering the Bears didn’t have a first round pick, Poles made sure to grab two day one starters in positions of need in the second round, instead of a wide receiver, something most Bears fans (including myself) were disappointed by.

Velus Jones Jr. will be in the mix for a starting gig, but he doesn’t have much WR1 potential. He’s a bit of a gadget player who excels on special teams as a returner. But don’t write him off yet. There are plenty of examples of day two and three wide receivers that outperform their draft spot. Chicago already has one that did in Darnell Mooney.

Poles took four offensive linemen on day three, an obvious position of need. It’s great that there will be some training camp battles, but will any of them prove to be the future at the position? Just because you’re a starter in the NFL, it doesn’t mean you’re a good player.

Head coach Matt Eberflus, along with Poles, came out of the draft confident they shored up the biggest weaknesses on the Bears roster. However, there are still some positions that could use some work.

Wide Receiver

I will continue to dive deeper into this group because I am not sold on this unit yet. I hope I’m wrong. I hope Jones Jr. becomes a tremendous player and proves us all wrong. But for now, we have to look at what his resume is.

His best ability on the field is returning kicks and punts. Great. Us Bears fans know a lot about what a great kick returner can do for a team. But Jones needs to be more than that. He needs to be one of Justin Fields’ favorite weapons.

Mooney is a fine player. A fifth-round gem in 2020, he is the leader in the room. But do we see WR1 potential out of him? It’s easy to point to his size (5’11” 174 lbs) but he’s actually been great at staying healthy through his first two seasons.

Byron Pringle broke out in 2021 with 568 yards and five touchdowns, but is he ready for a bigger role? Equanimeous St. Brown and Dazz Newsome round out returning veterans.

I think Chicago should add at least one free agent. This player doesn’t have to produce big numbers, but should have the ability to make some big plays and be a leader to the younger players in the group.

Potential Targets: Julio Jones, Emmanuel Sanders, Odell Beckham Jr.

Linebacker

Roquan Smith is an absolute rock for the Bears. He’s the leader of the defense and is due for an extension. The spots around him, however, remain unclear.

One player that appears to have the first stab at starting next to him is Nicholas Morrow. He was signed from Las Vegas on a one-year deal after missing last year due to injury. In today’s NFL, you won’t see too many snaps with three true linebackers on the field. The third linebacker is usually a hybrid between a pass rusher or defensive back.

Second-round pick Jaquan Brisker could be that roaming player that operates both near the line of scrimmage and down the field. But Brisker will likely start at strong safety, so another player is needed in the 4-3 scheme that Eberflus runs.

The other linebackers on the roster that will fight for a spot include Matt Adams, Caleb Johnson and Sam Kamara. Adams played with the Colts last year and his familiarity with the defense could give him the edge.

Dane Cruikshank is undersized (6’1”, 209 lbs) for a true linebacker role, but his reputation matching up with tight ends could earn him some snaps alongside Smith and Morrow.

Potential Targets: Dont’a Hightower, K.J. Wright, Anthony Hitchens

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