How Big Is the Need at Strong Side Linebacker?

Brad Biggs at the Chicago Tribune answers your questions.

Is the Bears’ starting middle linebacker on the roster yet? If not, how do you see that position being filled? — @mike__chicago

I expect Nicholas Morrow or Roquan Smith to fill the middle and weak-side linebacker positions. The team hasn’t announced a decision on how they will be aligned yet. You can’t rule out the possibility in certain situations they would flip. Depth is still needed but right now linebacker is one position the Bears are in pretty good shape.

Yes, this question of what the Bears need to do at linebacker is an interesting one. Given that the Bears plan to spend a lot of time in the nickel defense, you might claim that two starters are really all they need. However I would point out that new head coach Matt Eberflus said directly that he believes that strong side linebacker is an important part of the defense that he plans to run. In particular, he thought that finding a strong side linebacker who could slip inside in the nickel might be important. This could indicate that either Morrow or Smith may be moved to the bench when the Bears are in the nickel at least sometimes.

I recently participated in a mock draft where I was stuck in an interesting position with the second of the Bears second round picks. The best player on the board by a fairly big margin was Georgia linebacker Quay Walker. Even though I didn’t consider it to be a strong need for the Bears, I did consider it to be a need and I went ahead and selected him.

Something tells me that GM Ryan Poles might get roasted if he does something similar. But you wouldn’t see much criticism from me. I have a feeling that the third linebacker spot is very much in their plans and that it might be a bigger need than most fans in media members state.

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