We stirred some considerable debate Saturday when we suggested the Bears were locked into a wide receiver in the second round with the 49th overall pick.
Now that they have quarterback Jay Cutler, it's time to outfit him with the appropriate weapons.
Not everyone saw it that way. Some feel the addition of three starters on offense--Cutler, left tackle Orlando Pace and projected to left guard Frank Omiyale--signal a move to defense in the draft. At least in the early rounds. Certainly there are those out there who feel the Bears need some real work on the defensive side of the ball. Clark Judge of CBSSports.com writes that Cutler is not necessarily a cure-all for all things wrong with the Bears.
The thinking is Cutler will be a boost for Devin Hester as well as Earl Bennett, the third-round pick from last season who went without a catch as a rookie. The Bears said when they drafted that not only was Bennett a starting-caliber receiver, but that he was the highest receiver on their draft board. Remember, none were selected in the first round and then 10 came off the board in the second round. With the prior relationship between Cutler and Bennett at Vanderbilt--they played together for one season--it can only help Bennett.
But the pick at No. 49 could also be used on defense. General manager Jerry Angelo is in the market for a free safety. The Bears like Alabama's Rashad Johnson, who comes with a sterling recommendation from Angelo's good friend Nick Saban. Here is a statistic on Johnson for those who question his size at 5-11, 203 pounds, and his speed at 4.49 seconds in the 40-yard dash--Johnson had 30 pass breakups and interceptions over the last two seasons. That is the most for a safety in the draft since Sean Taylor and Ed Reed came out of Miami.
There is some debate as to whether or not Johnson will be drafted that early, but he might not last to No. 99 where the Bears pick again with their compensatory selection at the end of the third round. But if it's not a safety in the second round, what position do the Bears target? Can they find a defensive lineman worth taking there? Angelo said there wouldn't be a sure rush end at No. 18 and there sure as heck will not be one at No. 49. A cornerback isn't going to solve one of their needs directly there. A linebacker doesn't seem to be a need, not there any way.
I come back to receiver. Without help there, they're rolling the dice on Bennett going from being a zero to a productive starter in one season. Keep in mind, Bennett wasn't held back by Kyle Orton from being successful. It wasn't his fault Bennett barely saw the field. Is Cutler going to make that much of a difference? Because if Bennett doesn't work out, then you're looking at Rashied Davis back in the starting lineup. The Bears could choose between Juaquin Iglesias, Mohamed Massaquoi, Louis Murphy and Brian Robiskie at No. 49. That would give them some protection with Bennett. The Bears will work out Iglesias on Tuesday and Massaquoi on Wednesday to get better looks at them.
There is a chance Johnson hangs around deep into the third round or the Bears could possibly target Texas Tech's Darcel McBath or Troy's Sherrod Martin. They will work Martin out on Friday.
Yes, there are option, but if the Bears have the first big-time quarterback in forever, shouldn't they do all they can to make sure he succeeds where those who have come before him have not done so well?