Da Bears

by Chris Kennedy

Unless a soul for Jay Cutler is available at the 29th pick, one can expect the Bears to finally confront their long-glaring needs on the offensive line, with play-making speed at receiver and cornerback a distant second and third.

Chicago was in the bottom third of the league in both rushing and passing last year, enjoying another wild-ride playoff season mostly because of turnovers generated by the defense. But the team seems bent on soldiering forth with Cutler and featured runner Matt Forte in the backfield, and ’tis true that either might have been better had they not spent much of the year getting pummeled by unblocked defenders. Thankfully, there is athletic O-line beef to spare on the board. The Bears’ first-round draft position could net them either of two imposing tackles: regional prospect Gabe Carimi of Wisconsin, or Derek Sherrod of Mississippi State. Dark horse: Mike Pouncey of Florida, who could be plugged in anywhere in the interior line and whose twin brother Maurkice is already enjoying pro success with the Steelers.

The Bears have a pick in each of the first five rounds, and can always be counted on to lean toward the defensive side of the ball. Look for them to address Tommie Harris’ departure at defensive tackle, and reach for a cornerback project or two. The playoff lay-down against the Packers demonstrated that even backup quarterback is an area of sore need for this team. But this draft is bereft of signal-callers, in my opinion (Cam Newton? More skeletons than Arlington National Cemetery. Jake Locker? Accurate as a drunk weatherman. Ryan Mallett? JaMarcus Russell’s life coach’s second-best pupil. Andy Dalton? a.k.a. Smurfette. Blaine Gabbert? All the mobility of Michelangelo’s David.) So the Monsters of the Midway will again have to sink or sail with Cutler . . . or fans will have the Todd Collins Show to look forward to.

Chris Kennedy is a Chicago expatriate and director of media relations at the Cato Institute.

Right Field

Brief chronicles of our sporting times.