Since the start of free agency March 12, the Bears have signed 10 players from other teams, addressing key needs while adding depth and competition to their roster.
The moves also have created flexibility in the draft and made it difficult to identify who general manager Phil Emery and company will select with the 20th pick in the first round.
|The NFL Draft will be held April 25-27 in New York.|
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. thinks that Emery will choose Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o.
"The Bears have added players at the linebacker position in free agency (D.J. Williams and James Anderson), but not long-term starters," Kiper writes. "And let's remember, Lance Briggs is 33 in November. If they want a reliable long-term solution, Te'o provides a great fit.
"Put all the drama, the combine 40 time and all the surrounding hoopla aside, and what you get in Te'o is a good football player. He's instinctive, makes tackles and is extremely effective when the defensive line provides coverage. If there's a good value available here among one of the top handful of offensive linemen, that's another direction Chicago could go."
Kiper's ESPN colleague, Todd McShay, expects the Bears to select another Notre Dame product, tight end Tyler Eifert, even though they upgraded the position by signing free agent Martellus Bennett. Eifert caught 140 passes for 1,840 yards and 11 touchdowns in three years in South Bend.
"Bears QB Jay Cutler could use a weapon in the middle of the field," McShay writes, "and Eifert could help new coach Marc Trestman exploit mismatches in the passing game with his size, ball skills and versatility."
NFL.com's Bucky Brooks thinks that the Bears will pick Washington cornerback Desmond Trufant, whose brothers Marcus (Seahawks) and Isaiah (Jets) are already NFL cornerbacks.
"Yes, Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are still in their prime," Brooks writes, "But now is the time to groom a young replacement for a key role down the road. Trufant is a classic nickel corner with instincts, awareness and ball skills."
NFL.com's Akbar Gbajabiamila predicts that the Bears will select Georgia linebacker Alec Ogletree, an outstanding athlete who recorded 111 tackles last season for the Bulldogs.
"Brian Urlacher headlined the Bears defense for over a decade," Gbajabiamila writes, "but that era has come to a close. Ogletree is a fabulous option at this spot in the draft."
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah expects the Bears to pick North Carolina defensive tackle Sylvester Williams, a quick, versatile and disruptive force against the run and pass.
"There is a lot of excitement building around Williams," Jeremiah writes. "Don't be surprised if he ends up being selected much higher than [20th]."