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Professional

NFL: Heading into the Draft, what are the Bears' biggest needs?

Bears offensive lineman James Daniels protects quarterback Mitch Trubisky during the season opener against the Packers Thursday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.
Bears offensive lineman James Daniels protects quarterback Mitch Trubisky during the season opener against the Packers Thursday night at Soldier Field in Chicago.

OK, having all had our hands slapped by Roger Goodell, we will assume, for now, that the Draft will take pace as planned on April 23-25, so let’s get down to business.

Step one today is with a much better handle now going on 2 weeks into free agency, we have to start by clearly identifying the Bears’ Draft needs in order of their priority.

Rather than simply listing them one through whatever, let’s give them a little more clarity by using a ranking system of 1-5, 5 being an absolute must down to 1 being, gee, that would be nice.

OFFENSIVE LINE (4) – I’m only saving the five here because the Bears did prove they could win with basically what they have in 2018, but it still seems unlikely they’ll be able to do that again.

This is the only unit on the team that doesn’t have a single player that has either been a star in the past or that we can realistically project will be one this year. (I don’t know what Jimmy Graham is now, but he is a former All Pro and five-time Pro Bowler).

James Daniels can become a perennial Pro Bowler at center, and Cody Whitehair could be one of the league’s best guards, but neither projects anywhere near that at guard and center respectively, which is where they are at the moment.

Still, they can be built around, and Bobby Massey is better than he gets credit for at right tackle, but is that good enough?

The bottom line is there are no other offensive linemen on the roster with the ceilings of Daniels and Whitehair.

Let’s say I’m wrong – yep, it happens all the time – and Charles Leno is good enough for now at left tackle.

How many teams have you seen winning playoff games lately with “good enough for now” at left tackle, and we still have no idea if Rashaad Coward, Alex Bars or Germain Ifedi can be even good enough for now?

Upgrading the talent here is a screaming need.

SAFETY (3) – Ryan Pace has done a nice job of retaining and adding bodies here, but are any of them even close to as good as Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who wasn’t good enough?

Many of the game’s best safeties have come from days two and three of the Draft and a high ceiling guy to pair with Eddie Jackson for the next four or five years could be an excellent use of the 43rd or 50th pick.

TIGHT END (3) – What has been lost in all the angst and agita over Jimmy Graham’s contract is even the player we saw in Green Bay last year is a real upgrade over anyone the Bears have had starting at the Y since Martellus Bennett, and he is 33.

None of them have a ceiling you need a step stool for, and Matt Nagy’s offense requires that guy.

WIDE RECEIVER (3) – The Bears could be quite dangerous this season with Graham, Trey Burton, Anthony Robinson, Anthony Miller and Tarik Cohen all on the field together, matchup nightmares, but it won’t happen often because running out of that package will be near futile.

This offense requires at least one more pure speed guy to go with Cohen and Miller, and Cordarrelle Patterson, love him as we should, just isn’t a good enough route runner, and he drops too many balls to be that guy.

QUARTERBACK (3) It is what it is for this season, and Nick Foles is an excellent addition. But consistently good teams almost always have a hopeful developmental prospect growing in the garden, and the Bears haven’t had one of those this century.

CORNERBACK AND PASS RUSH (2) – I like what Pace has done here, and there is probably enough on hand right now, but you never have too much in these two spots.

RUNNING BACK (1) –Even if David Montgomery’s the guy, there is no true number two on the roster right now unless Patterson is going to be that guy.

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