RB Kevin Jones (Detroit)
WR Marty Booker (Miami)
WR Brandon Lloyd (Washington)
LB Brendon Ayanbadejo (Baltimore)
WR Bernard Berrian (Minnesota)
TE John Gilmore (Tampa Bay)
DT Jimmy Kennedy (Jacksonville)
WR Muhsin Muhammad (Carolina)
DT Darwin Walker (Carolina)
1 (14) Chris Williams, OT, Vanderbilt
2 (44) Matt Forte, RB, Tulane
3 (70) Earl Bennett, WR, Vanderbilt
3 (90) Marcus Harrison, DT, Arkansas
4 (120) Craig Steltz, S, LSU
5 (142) Zack Bowman, CB, Nebraska
5 (158) Kellen Davis, TE, Michigan State
7 (208) Ervin Baldwin, DE, Michigan State
7 (222) Chester Adams, OG, Georgia
7 (243) Joey LaRocque, LB, Oregon State
7 (247) Kirk Barton, OT, Ohio State
7 (248) Marcus Monk, WR, Arkansas
Bears Fillability Overview
Chicago's offensive line was so porous last year that you could have used it to strain pasta. The club ranked 31st in our Offensive Hog Index and dead last in rushing, with a truly awful 3.14 yards per attempt.
To put that sad, anemic figure into perspective, consider that more than half the league (17 teams) averaged 4.0 yards per rush attempt or better last year. Also consider that Chicago's Black & Blow Division rivals in Minnesota averaged 5.33 YPA last year – an amazing 70 percent better per attempt than the Bears.
The Bears attacked the weakness with their first pick of the 2008 draft, beefy offensive tackle Chris Williams. They added two more offensive linemen in the seventh around, among their stash of supplemental picks. The Williams selection proved the Bears knew where their greatest problems lay last year. But the Vanderbilt product recently underwent back surgery and will not be available to play for at least the first several weeks of the season.
The Bears furthered attacked this weakness by grabbing former Lions running back Kevin Jones, who was released, and then adding former Tulane running back Matt Forte with their second pick in the draft.
The additions may not be enough to jumpstart the offensive line and the ground game here in 2008 – especially with the Williams injury – but they do mark strong steps in the right direction.
The passing attacks also remained a problem last year – No. 22 in Passing Yards Per Attempt – and there seems little hope of this ever becoming a strength until the Bears finally find a quarterback to replace Sid Luckman (still the franchise's all time passing yardage leader 58 years after he last played).
The Bears announced Monday that Kyle Orton will be their No. 1 man once the bullets start flying in September. They also added a slew of wide receivers in the draft and in free agency to give him some targets. The continuing evolution of the thrilling Devin Hester at wide receiver, meanwhile, could prove to turn Kyle Orton, Rex Grossman or you, for that matter, into the second coming of Dan Marino or Peyton Manning. But don't cross your fingers.
Still, the passing game should show at least some improvement in 2008.
Chicago's other weakness last year was its No. 19 ranking in Defensive Passer Rating, a sad mark for its once-feared defense. You don't win in the NFL if you can't stop the pass effectively – hell, just look at the Giants last year. They were 10-6 when they played only mediocre pass defense in the regular season. They turned it on in the playoffs, shutting down the league's three best passing attacks (Dallas, Green Bay, New England) in consecutive games.
The performance of the pass defense will be a critical element in the potential rebirth of the 2006 NFC champions.
Chicago Fillability Grade: B+