And We're Talking Quarterbacks Because...?

The need for immediate help at several positions to address the upcoming season pushes quarterback into the background for the Bears as a pressing matter, barring the unlikely fall of a top-five passer into their laps or the selection of one later in the draft.
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Following the most recent Bears personnel moves and with the draft countdown reaching less than 10 days, it's time to reset their needs board.

The needs have been the same since the entire postseason process began and now the dynamic is different. 

The signing of Tashaun Gipson on Monday knocked safety down from a drastic Day 3 need to a mild need for the position's future. They can play this season with the safeties they have because they did it last year, and should be even deeper with the addition of Jordan Lucas and Marqui Christian into the mix.

Quarterback remains a huge need, but if they addressed this it is unlikely to even impact what they have planned for this season. The idea would be to let the rookie sit. 

This is not the case at other spots like cornerback and tackle.

Here's where the needs board stands for the Bears before venturing into exploration of their most likely choices over the next nine days.

No. 1 Bears Need: Cornerback

Some readers might look at right tackle and see the potential for great disaster, some find the lack of a young quarterback reprehensible. Both are true.

Nothing will ruin what could be the last season for the Ryan Pace-Matt Nagy duo faster than the potential disaster brewing at cornerback.

There are two positions with disaster written all of them.

To replace Kyle Fuller, they acquired Desmond Trufant. They have a few other bodies around Halas Hall like Artie Burns, Tre Roberson and the young cornerbacks who played last year, Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley.

Shelley is more of a slot cornerback and Vildor could be, as well. Roberson was a CFL player who failed in the NFL. Burns failed in the NFL before tearing up his knee. Trufant has been healthy for a full season twice in five years and did not impress then with his play.

The Bears need a top cornerback more than they need a player at any other position. In order to prevent a big slide, make it two of them.

No. 2 Bears Need: Tackle

They paid Germain Ifedi $5 million this year, which doesn't put him in the class of highly paid linemen but does show they intend to do more with him than let him languish on the bench. They've already got James Daniels and Cody Whitehair for guard spots and loved what they saw from Sam Mustipher at center.

So the only logical conclusion is they plan on Ifedi playing right tackle full time, or at least until a rookie draft pick chosen on Days 1 or 2 would be ready to start.

Can Ifedi do this? After all, they brought him to Chicago to play guard and at Seattle he failed badly as a right tackle. Last year his right tackle play proved better than in Seattle, but there's that lingering strip-sack memory against Detroit that got the Bears a defeat when they badly needed a win down the stretch.

Perhaps working with offensive line coach Juan Castillo has made all the difference for Ifedi and he can stay square to pass rushers the way he couldn't in Seattle.

None of this addresses the fact Charles Leno Jr on the other side is in the final year of a contract and has been average overall.

Are the Bears actually going to try getting by with two less mobile 30-something quarterbacks being protected by two marginal tackles? Good luck with that.

The Bears could actually use two tackles in this draft, not just one.

This need is almost neck and neck with cornerback. The only thing keeping it back is both Ifedi and Leno have done this before and have not had injury problems--they just haven't done it well enough.

No. 3 Bears Need: Slot Receiver

At the moment, they have a slot receiver in Anthony Miller. He's both in the last year of a contract and reportedly on the trading block.

So this position will become a need in a very short time.

Neither Riley Ridley nor Javon Wims projected as ideal slot receiver types coming into the NFL and neither has shown much to the team, anyway.

The Bears did acquire Marquise Goodwin but he is not a slot receiver. His experience is at the "Z' on the outside, playing the side opposite Allen Robinson in a three-receiver set or playing in three- or four-receiver formations.

Part of the reason they obtained Goodwin is a decided lack of speed at receiver. Only starting "Z" receiver Darnell Mooney ran sub-4.52 in the 40 at combine time.

Matt Nagy loves speed at receiver and badly wants a Tyreek Hill-type receiver who can be deployed all over, either under the coverage for catch-and-run, or as a deep threat in the middle of the field or even running the ball on jet sweeps. He doesn't need a long-striding receiver but a short-striding player with moves and acceleration.

There are several players of this type likely to be available at various points in the draft and it would be difficult to see the Bears passing on this.

No. 4 Bears Need: Slot Cornerback

The Bears are going back to Vic Fangio's defensive system with new coordinator Sean Desai and Fangio's system worked best when they had a smaller, faster, physical pest named Bryce Callahan covering slot receivers.

Vildor showed he could tackle in the open field and be fast last year but didn't show he could cover the slot. Over his 135 defensive snaps last year, he allowed 70% completions, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 131.2, according to NFL stat partner Sportradar.

Shelley has been on the field for 208 defensive snaps, allowed 80% completions, a TD and 118.1 passer rating.

None of that will do, and there are several fast, pesky and proven college nickel cornerbacks in this draft who could be obtained in later rounds.

It's a position used more than 50% of the snaps.

"That's a starting position," SI and FanNation football analyst Jim Mora Jr. said.

The Bears don't have a starter there now because Buster Skrine's Bears career is over, and they haven't had a really productive one there since Callahan in 2018.

No. 5 Bears Need: Quarterback

The sad reality for Bears fans is this position has been beaten to death and rehashed daily for years  but it ranks only fifth on the list because it's a future-oriented need at the moment.

If they are playing a rookie quarterback in 2021, odds are very good he will be playing for a different coach in 2022. If that's the case, it's hard to see how they would have the same GM. So we'd be talking total regime change.

If the Bears draft a quarterback in the first round or second round, they would need to be certain they can solve these other four needs at some point in the draft because those positions will undo the team faster this year than two veteran quarterbacks will.

This isn't to say they can't address the future, but it could never be classified as more critical.

However, if a real talent at the position falls in a team's lap, someone whose talent level they can be reasonably certain they'd have difficulty replicating in future drafts, then it would be easy to take that player because of the importance of the position. They wouldn't be taking him because of need, but would be doing it for their future. That, in and of itself, is a need too.

Remember this: Mora said the big concern is if they draft a quarterback it would be a player for the next coach because of how long it takes to get a rookie ready. What coach or GM wants to do that? Ryan Pace could do it in 2017 when he'd been in Chicago two years, but now?

No. 6 Bears Need: Defensive Line

Akiem Hicks is in the final year of a contract. Even if they're looking at this season, they might benefit from one addition body on the line because the experienced backups are newly acquired Angelo Blackson and undersized defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. The rotation works best when there is a sixth person behind those three and the other starters, Bilal Nichols and Eddie Goldman.

No. 7 Bears Need: Tight End

This moves up past safety chiefly because they no longer have a third tight end. There are some project types from the practice squad like Darion Clark and Jesper Horsted, and a blocking back in J.P. Holtz, but Demetrius Hall was not re-signed and behind Jimmy Graham and Cole Kmet there is no one. And if anyone hasn't heard it 1,000 times, Graham is old. So this is a need. It's a need to be addressed on Day 3 because it's a point when many tight ends can usually be found and it's not as pressing after getting Kmet up and running last year.

No. 8 Bears Need: Safety

It would be good to have a player in place with an upside for the future who is playing alongside Eddie Jackson and doesn't have a one-year contract for a change. The sixth round is too late to draft someone to anticipate this happening. The most productive sixth-round pick Pace has made is safety DeAndre Houston-Carson, but he has never started a game.

No. 9 Bears Need: Running Back

Like safety, it looked like a more pressing need than some others for Day 3 before but Damien Williams and the expected return of Tarik Cohen from an ACL tear make it more likely a player at this position would be someone they bring in as an undrafted free agent to compete with Artavis Pierce and Ryan Nall.

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