The Chicago Bears are coming off a trip to the playoffs, but it doesn’t feel like it. The Bears have become the big losers of the offseason after being interested in Russell Wilson and Matthew Stafford but coming away with Andy Dalton. They were fortunate to sneak into the playoffs in 2020, and the front office and coaching staff are on thin ice.
They need to recapture what they had in 2018, and to do that, they’re going to have to crush the draft. Here are three first-round targets that could help turn the Bears from pretenders to contenders.
With Andy Dalton leading the passing attack, the Bears can pretty much throw away all hope of having an elite passing offense. The only time that Dalton was at the helm of an above-average offense was 2015. If the Bears want to have a good offense, the running game will have to be stellar. To do that, they’ll have to invest in the offensive line. Alijah Vera-Tucker is a versatile lineman that played 2019 at left guard and 2020 at left tackle.
He earned all-conference honors in both seasons. The Bears’ right guard projected to be Alex Bars, an undrafted free agent that Chicago signed in 2019. He’s outperformed expectations, but he’s far from a solid starter at the position. The Bears offensive line got off to a poor start in 2020 but pulled it together towards the end. If they can build on their end-of-season success and add Vera-Tucker, it figures to be an above-average unit that can take the pressure off Andy Dalton.
The Bears have a reputation for defensive excellence, but if you look at the roster, it’s easy to find holes on that side of the ball. Who is rushing the passer opposite of Khalil Mack? Robert Quinn was a massive disappointment after signing a big contract before last year. Who will take the place of Kyle Fuller? Who is the safety opposite of Eddie Jackson? If Akiem Hicks gets traded, who will the defensive tackles be? It’s a very top-heavy defense and it’s far from rock solid.
The Chicago front office is on thin ice. They need a home run season to keep their jobs. If Caleb Farley is sitting there at 20, they may swing for the fences. Farley is a high-risk, high reward pick. He looked fantastic in his short college career, but a recent back surgery has his stock in limbo. Back problems can ruin careers, but it’s a chance the Bears may be willing to take, though.
Okay, so this pick isn’t exactly perfect at 20. But the Bears might not have a choice. Many were expecting Pace and Nagy to get fired at the end of the 2020 season. Yes, the team made the playoffs as a 7th seed, but at no point was anyone ever scared of this Bears team, and with Andy Dalton is the starter, no one will be scared of them this year, either.
The Bears were all-in on trying to trade for Russell Wilson, but the Seahawks wouldn’t bite. They know they need a difference-maker at quarterback, but none of the top rookies will be available with where they are in the draft. The chances Mond becomes a difference-maker are small, but the possibility still exists. I don’t think you can say that for Andy Dalton.
Mond has stiff mechanics, and his accuracy is very suspect, but he has a lot of arm talent and is mobile. He fits the mold of the young QBs that have found success recently. Mond was also a four-year starter in college. That experience will help him, and he could look better to start his career than perhaps someone like Lance or Mac Jones will, which could give the decision-makers some short-term job security.