The Last Thing the Chicago Bears Need in the NFL Draft

Gene Chamberlain

The Chicago Bears can benefit from talent at any number of positions in the NFL draft.

There is one position they should completely ignore, largely because they've already paid too much attention to it.

Of course, it's tight end. 

Unless the Bears plan to throw a full side on to the field of all tight ends, they need to ignore this spot. They have 10 tight ends and it's way more than enough.

The Chicago Bears are spending $6 million more than any other team in the league on tight ends, at $21.7 million according to Spotrac.com.

They are spending more than twice what 18 teams in the league are spending on tight ends.

The Eagles are second at $15.7 million on tight ends and Chargers third at $15.5 million.

The Eagles have Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert and the Chargers have Hunter Henry. Who do the Bears have for all they spent?

Maybe the real question is who don't they have?

Jimmy Graham, Demetrius Harris, Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, Ben Braunecker, Eric Saubert, J.P. Holtz, Jesper Horsted, Dax Raymond and Darion Clark. are the tight ends. 

Saubert might be an unfamiliar name. He's from the Chicago area, Hoffman Estates, and actually signed a two-year deal when the Bears brought him in last season. He was a fifth-round draft pick of the Falcons but has just seven career receptions.

Raymond was on the practice squad all last year.

And Clark? He's a 6-foot-7 basketball player who played hoops at UNC, transferred to USC and then finished at Grand Canyon. He hasn't played football since high school and when he did he was a quarterback and not a tight end.

"Look, we know we have a lot of tight ends on the roster now and that's something we are working through," Bears GM Ryan Pace said. "We know we have some decisions we have to make across the board at that position.

"We aren't there yet but we are definitely happy that Jimmy (Graham) is in this offense, and also that Demetrius Harris is in this offense–that's a good addition for us as well."

How many of these players stay around and who goes has yet to be determined.

This glut of players all came about because of injuries to Burton and Shaheen, and at least as important in this was the failure of the Bears on offense inside the red zone.

The Bears finished 24th in red zone scoring last year and their pass receiving statistics are embarrassing. They were 11th in 2018.

With a tall receiver like Allen Robinson and tight ends like Shaheen and Burton, the Bears had targets who could go up for a ball in the end zone. Yet, their leading receiver in the red zone last year was 5-foot-6 Tarik Cohen.

Cohen caught six passes in the red zone, tying for 54th in the league. Cohen's three TD catches in the red zone tied for 60th in the league. The Bears' high for receptions inside the opponents' 10-yard line was two, by several players including Taylor Gabriel. This tied for 77th in the league.

It's little wonder when the season ended coach Matt Nagy pointed to one area as a problem for his offense.

"You look at some of the things specifically, I look at the red zone, some of the struggles we have had this year in the red zone," Nagy said. "That's where you get your points.

"I don't want field goals, we don't want field goals. You have to score touchdowns."

It's a reason 6-7 Graham was brought in. He has 74 career touchdowns and 432 first downs on his 649 career reception total.

Harris is 6-7 and was signed for the same reason. He has nine career TD passes and 43 first downs out of a total of 72 career receptions.

Burton isn't a taller player, but gets his red zone receptions with quickness and route running. Not having their key player, who has 131 career receptions with 70 first downs and 12 touchdowns, was devastating in the red zone in 2019. 

Even 6-6 Shaheen, who has only 26 receptions for his three NFL seasons, has been able to contribute as a red zone target when healthy with four touchdown catches.

So it's easy to see how the Bears could end up with a basketball player as a possible tight end, and why they've spent so much on the position.

With so much energy and money devoted to tight ends, they need to be losing some of them. 

And the last thing they need is another tight end in the draft.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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Gene Chamberlain