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Bears have 'tons at stake' in draft

While the NFL Draft is obviously important to all 32 teams, analyst Gil Brandt believes that this year's edition is especially critical for the Bears.

"After narrowly missing the playoffs in 2013, the Bears are poised to seriously challenge for the NFC North crown," Brandt writes. "They have almost all the necessary pieces to be a true force in 2014, from the quarterback position (Jay Cutler) to running back (Matt Forte) and receiver (Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery). They also helped themselves greatly in free agency, bringing aboard defensive linemen Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen.

"It's imperative that the Bears make good on this window of opportunity, which won't be closing immediately but also won't be open forever,"

Brandt also lists the Steelers, Cowboys, Rams and Jets as teams the draft is most important to.

The Bears have one pick in each of the first five rounds (Nos. 14, 51, 82, 117 and 156) as well as two in the sixth round (Nos. 183 and 191). Their first sixth-round selection was acquired from the Buccaneers last June in exchange for guard Gabe Carimi. The Bears dealt their seventh-round pick to the Cowboys just before the start of the 2013 regular season for tight end Dante Rosario.

The first round of the draft will take place on Thursday, May 8, followed by the second and third rounds on Friday, May 9, and Rounds 4-7 on Saturday, May 10.

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