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Final rankings of the Chicago Bears draft needs

Will DeWitt Avatar
April 24, 2022

The 2022 NFL Draft is just days away. Ryan Poles is gearing up for his first draft as Chicago Bears general manager, and his team is putting the final touches on their draft board.

Since his arrival back in January, Poles has been busy evaluating the roster he inherited. Over the last couple of months, he has started to mold this team towards his vision.

His free agency approach has been conservative, to say the least.

With the focus now on the draft, it’s time to determine the hierarchy of needs on the roster. There are more needs on this team than the Bears have draft picks. Surely Poles knows that.

Let’s take a look at the Bears’ top-10 needs heading into the draft.

Keep in mind that the order doesn’t necessarily imply that it should be the order the Bears address these positions in the draft. Chicago needs to blend the level of need compared to the best players available to make an informed decision.


10. Running Back

NEED LEVEL: Extremely Low

Running back is perhaps the deepest position on the team. David Montgomery is one of the better backs in the league, and Khalil Herbert remains one of Chicago’s best-kept secrets. The Bears claimed the speedy Darrynton Evans from the Tennessee Titans in March to provide some quality depth.

If the Bears do not bring back Montgomery after this season, the final year of his rookie deal, this could easily become one of the biggest needs on the team. But for now, they’re set.

9. Defensive End

NEED LEVEL: Low

It’s odd. Ryan Poles’ first move was sending away all-pro Khalil Mack to the Chargers. Yet, despite losing the superstar, defensive end isn’t that pressing of a need right now.

That’s either a testament to the depth at the position or the magnitude of the other needs on this list. Most likely, it’s a mixture of both.

Plus, coach Matt Eberflus has a track record of finding ways to get adequately talented pass rushers to the quarterback. That helps ease the concern.

8. Tight End

NEED LEVEL: Neutral

Tight end may have ended higher on this list if the Bears did not sign three of them already. In addition to bringing back Jesper Horsted, Chicago also came to terms with two savvy veterans Ryan Griffin and James O’Shaughnessy.

Add in third-year TE Cole Kmet, and you have a pretty solid group. The question remains if Kmet will take the next step fans are looking for, especially as a scoring threat. If his game elevates in Year 3, the depth beneath Kmet is more than serviceable.

7. Linebacker

NEED LEVEL: Neutral

It’s easy to feel comfortable at linebacker with Roquan Smith on the roster. It’s still undetermined what linebacking position Smith will play in the Bears’ new scheme, however, the Bears have a pro-bowl caliber linebacker on the field – despite the fact that it seems impossible for him to be recognized as such.

Chicago has made a pair of signings in Nicholas Morrow and former Colt Matt Adams, who followed Eberflus from Indianapolis. Morrow projects as a starter as long as his previous injury concerns remain behind him. The Bears have some solid depth too in guys like Caleb Johnson and Noah Dawkins.

6. Defensive Tackle

NEED LEVEL: Moderate

Here’s where things start to get interesting. This is a position that has undergone plenty of changes over the past couple of months. The Bears no longer have Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols.

Chicago’s top free-agent priority Larry Ogunjobi ended up not being healthy enough to sign his deal with the Bears. So, Ryan Poles had to execute his backup plan and sign former Charger Justin Jones. If not for that, this position would be much higher on this list.

The Bears are very fortunate to bring back high-quality rotational players like Angelo Blackson, Mario Edwards, and Khyris Tonga. The overall quality of talent at the position from top to bottom is decent – Chicago just wishes it had a more dominant starter.

If the right one was available when the Bears are on the clock, don’t be surprised if they end up going in that direction.

5. Safety

NEED LEVEL: Moderate

It seems like every offseason the Bears are looking to find a starter alongside Eddie Jackson. Guess that is what happens when the team has handed out one-year deals to veterans every year since losing Adrian Amos.

The Bears signed Dane Cruikshank from the Titans, but it would be a mistake to roll into training camp with him as the clear-cut starter and no one else pushing for the job. Another mistake has been neglecting this position in the draft and relying too heavily on cheap deals in free agency.

Chicago would benefit from finding a player in the draft that has the potential to contribute right away.

4. Offensive Tackle

NEED LEVEL: High

One could argue that this should be higher on the list, and that was the expectation when making it. It just didn’t work out that way.

Here’s why.

The Bears have two young and promising tackles in Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom. Jenkins is currently back at right tackle, which is his more natural fit. Borom has been taking first-team reps at left tackle.

If the draft board falls right, the Bears could fill their need by finding a tackle that can start right away. If they can find that player that is an upgrade over Borom, Chicago is sitting in a great spot. Borom instantly would become the team’s swing tackle, and a more than serviceable one at that.

Even though left tackle is more important than guard, it’s the fact that the Bears just need to find one body here compared to the interior where more than one player is needed.

More on that in a moment.

3. Guard/Center

NEED LEVEL: Extremely High

Now we enter a point where every need is rather urgent. For some of these positions, the difference in order is razor-thin. The Bears let James Daniels walk in free agency, and truth be told, the interior of Chicago’s offensive line was not good last season.

They brought Lucas Patrick from the Packers, who looks to become the team’s new starting center. Cody Whitehair will remain at guard, which leaves one spot still up for grabs.

The need here is two-fold. Chicago needs to find a starter and improve its depth inside as the team can improve from Sam Mustipher and newcomer Dakota Dozier. Plus the Bears also did lose Germain Ifedi and Alex Bars in free agency.

Bolstering the depth here is as important as finding a starter, which makes this a bigger need than tackle.

2. Cornerback

NEED LEVEL: Extremely High

Outside of Jaylon Johnson, it’s anybody’s guess as to who will be starting at the other two cornerback positions. The uncertainty with two starting jobs weighs heavily towards making this need one of the largest on the team.

Former draft picks Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelly haven’t developed to a level that should give the Bears confidence in their ability to start in 2022. Poles signed Tavon Young from Baltimore who could step in and become the team’s starting slot corner, but he will need to prove he can stay healthy, and surely the Bears are not going to bank on that.

Thomas Graham Jr. demonstrated serious promise last year in a severely limited sample size.

The Bears most definitely will draft a cornerback. The question is whether or not they double-dip at the position with needs both outside and inside.

1. Wide Receiver

NEED LEVEL: Extremely High

To no one’s surprise, the biggest need for the Bears heading into the draft is wide receiver. Outside of Darnell Mooney, it’s all one big question mark.

The Bears did Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown to add some bodies to the position, but the jury is still out on what type of impact they will have next season. Can Luke Getsy get more out of St. Brown in Chicago compared to Green Bay? How many touches will Byron Pringle get in this offense?

Dazz Newsome is not forgotten, but he has a lot to prove to the new coaching staff.

It’s a clear-cut consensus that the Bears need to get more playmakers for Justin Fields. They desperately need to find a starting outside receiver to pair with Mooney.

It would not be a shock to anyone if Chicago drafted multiple wideouts with different skillsets as the Bears attempt to find long-term answers.

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