Need Vs. Best Available? It All Depends.

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions:

I am very excited to have [defensive end Jared] Allen in the fold. What do you expect the defensive end rotation to look like? I assume Allen and [Lamarr] Houston are the starters with [Willie] Young and Israel Idonije backing them up. I have much love for Idonije for all his years of service but was really impressed with David Bass last season. Wouldn’t the Bears be better off continuing to develop Bass rather than plugging in the below-average and over-the-hill (if reliable) Idonije? He did nothing for Detroit last season. – Dave M., Portland, Ore.

“The top three ends are clearly Allen, Houston and Young. Bass showed flashes of being a nice young player last season and needs to continue to develop. The Bears have some solid competition for the fourth end position that also includes Cheta Ozougwu as well as Austen Lance and Trevor Scott. Idonije could also figure in the mix inside at tackle and that could be where the Bears look to use him. Bass needs to get better and nothing is going to be handed to him. In a best-case scenario, the Bears have to make a difficult roster cut come September.”

My assumption is that Allen and Young will be the ends in the base nickel defense with Houston at the three technique.  That gets all three on the field at once.  Given the somewhat thin depth at defensive tackle, I think there’s little doubt that the Bears envision Idonije in the rotation there.

“Any chance the Bears look at drafting A.J. McCarron late in the draft to be the quarterback of the future? — @MichaelDownes from Twitter

“You get some varied opinions when it comes to the Alabama product and like a lot of the quarterbacks in this draft he’s a bit of a wild card. But I would be surprised if McCarron is available in the late rounds. Most project him to be a third-round pick with a possibility of sneaking into the second round. The contract the Bears signed [Jay] Cutler to indicates he’s the starter for probably at least the next three seasons so I don’t know if it is time for the Bears to start wondering about their 2017 starter. When you look at offensive positions the team could target in the draft, running back, tight end and wide receiver are greater needs, in my opinion.”

I tend to agree with Biggs here in that I don’t see the Bears drafting a quarterback in the mid-rounds.  If they did, you have to assume that they really liked him and you could reasonably expect him to be the back up in 2015 with a future as a starter.  But that’s not likely and I’m sure they’d rather spend those picks on a player that would see the field more in 2014.

The Bears might still pick up a young quarterback.  Like most general managers, Phil Emery has said that ideally he’d like to draft one every year.  But if they do, I’d be surprised if such a pick didn’t come late in either the sixth or seventh round.  Perhaps they’d even bring in a college free agent.

“The Bears put a lot of work into bolstering the front four (I’ll even give them the front seven if you’re drinking the Kool Aid on a move to linebacker making Shea McClellin better) but they haven’t addressed depth in the secondary. While they might hit on a starter or two in the draft, that porous defensive back unit needs more. What street free agent and/or draftees projected into the latter rounds intrigue you? — Gregory M., Naperville

“They haven’t done a lot for depth at cornerback but they did re-sign starters Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman. Zack Bowman is the one that got away as he went to the Giants. Kelvin Hayden is back in the mix for the nickel cornerback job with Isaiah Frey and Sherrick McManis is primarily viewed as a special teams player. They also signed Ryan Mundy at the outset of free agency and the plan is for him to start, probably at strong safety. You can’t get it all done in free agency and really you don’t want to go that route. The Bears need an infusion of young talent and that will come via the draft. I think they need to look at the secondary in the early rounds of the draft not the latter rounds. A cornerback and a safety are both needs. A street free agent isn’t going to solve any real issues.”

Though depth in the secondary is an issue and I would, indeed, look for the Bears to go in that direction in the early rounds, the situation isn’t as bad as it looks.  For one thing the improvement in the front seven will mean improvement on the back end.

Hayden is a reasonably good first cornerback off the bench with Isaiah Frey moving into his spot at nickel back (if Frey doesn’t win the job outright).  The bigger issue is still at safety where I’m sure the Bears definitely would like to add competition and depth but you could do a lot worse than Craig Steltz as your first backup off the bench there.

“We know the greatest draft needs for the Bears are the secondary and defensive tackle, but what if a Teddy Bridgewater, Jake Matthews, Taylor Lewan or even Mike Evans are available at No. 14? Do you pull the trigger and take the best player available or let those guys go and draft for need? — Mike M., Chicago

“It’s great when you hear clubs talk about drafting the ‘best available’ player but in reality that is more spin than anything else. Reality is clubs need to plug holes with top talent at specific positions at the top of the draft. Let’s say safety is the greatest need, at least for the purpose of this discussion. If the Bears have a significantly higher grade on a player at another position, then it’s time for a discussion. But Bridgewater isn’t going to help the team win games in 2014 and the signing of a player like Jared Allen is a clear indication the Bears are hoping to compete for a Super Bowl this year. Look at some of the core players on defense. Allen is 32. Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are 33. Tim Jennings is 30. Also defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff will turn 33 before the season opens and D.J. Williams will be 32. The Bears need to invest high draft picks on defensive talent in order to avoid having to spend big dollars on short-term fixtures via free agency.”

I’m going to disagree but only mildly in that it does, indeed, depend on the specific situation.  For one thing, Mike Evans would help the team win now as he’d be the third wide receiver and on the field for at least half the snaps.

More to the point, in 2005 the Packers didn’t need a quarterback.  But when Aaron Rogers fell to 24th overall, they pulled the trigger.

Case closed.

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