The Bears are scheduled to pick 18th in today's second round (50th overall), which begins at 5:30 p.m.
They're still hoping to trade down and add more picks, but there doesn't figure to be a lot of demand for their pick. The good news is that there are still a lot of players remaining who are capable of contributing to an NFL team right away.
Best guess is that the Bears target a linebacker, although it would be a shock if Manti Te'o were still on the board when the Bears are on the clock.
There is also an excellent group of wide receivers still available, but expect a run early. At least 2-3 quarterbacks should come off the board pretty quickly as well.
Below are 22 players, possibly in order, who should be gone before the third round begins.
LB Manti Te'o, Notre Dame
The Bears have hosted Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, and they need an infusion of youth at the position, but that doesn’t mean they’re locked on to him with their first-round pick, the 20th overall.
NFL teams are allowed to host 30 players for individual predraft visits, and the Bears currently have just five picks in the draft. They don’t ever draft every player they invite to Halas Hall for a personal visit, so the odds are at least 6-1 they won’t take Te’o.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. thinks the Bears should take Manti Te’o with the 20th overall pick in the draft later this month. But he thinks they have to be wary of the NFC North rival Vikings jumping ahead of them to steal the Notre Dame linebacker, if he is the player they have targeted.
The Vikings have the 23rd and 25th picks in the first round, and they also have a need for a middle linebacker. So, if they identify Te’o as their man, they may need to jump ahead of the Bears, as well as the Giants, who are at No. 19 and also could use a middle linebacker.
Brian Urlacher made some acrimonious comments after the split between the eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker and the Bears last month.
Among other things, Urlacher said he would have appreciated a call from someone in the organization, especially someone from the McCaskey family.
But Bears chairman George McCaskey said that’s not the player he’s come to know over the previous 13 years. And McCaskey did talk to Urlacher -- after a cooling-off period.
As efficient as G.M. Phil Emery has been at plugging leaks this off-season – offensive tackle, tight end and linebacker – another one sprang up Tuesday night, this time at quarterback.
The Browns signed last year’s veteran backup, Jason Campbell, to a two-year deal. In Cleveland, Campbell will have a much better chance of winning playing time from Brandon Weeden than he would from Jay Cutler had he re-signed with the Bears.
Good for Campbell. He had been a starter for most of the six years before he joined the Bears in 2012, and he’s still just 31 and still has the tools to start for some team -- just not the Bears.
The Ravens have lost a good chunk of their Super Bowl championship team, and the turnstile in Miami that has drastically changed the look of the Dolphins.
Major additions have made by the Lions, Colts, Eagles, Browns, Rams and even the Bears and Broncos different teams.
All of that will affect how the draft plays out, so here’s an updated forecast of what the first round might look like.
1. Chiefs, DT Star Lotulelei, Utah – Tagged OT Brandon Albert.
2. Jaguars, OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M – Safe pick.
3. Raiders, DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida – Lost UFA Desmond Bryant.
4. Eagles, OT Eric Fisher,CMU – Added defense in UFA.
5. Lions, CB Dee Milliner, Alabama – Continue DB makeover.
6. Browns, OG Chance Warmack, Alabama – Added defense in UFA.
New left tackle Jermon Bushrod will make life easier for Jay Cutler and the Bears’ offense. New tight end Martellus Bennett will, too, and he’ll make life more entertaining, too.
Bushrod, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, will provide the pass protection and especially the consistency that J’Marcus Webb did not the past two years. And that Chris Williams, Frank Omiyale and Orlando Pace did not in the two years before that.
General manager Phil Emery’s free-agent additions of tight end Martellus Bennett and offensive left tackle Jermon Bushrod in the opening hours of free agency addressed the Bears’ two biggest needs. It also gives them much greater flexibility in next month’s draft.
But Tuesday’s moves may have created another need if there’s not enough money left to re-sign linebackers Nick Roach or Brian Urlacher or Geno Hayes. And, if the Bears also can’t afford to re-sign right guard Lance Louis, their best blocker last season, then they’ve taken two steps forward and one step back on the O-line.
With only seven weeks to go until the draft, it’s time to take a first look at how the first round might play out.
Offensive and defensive linemen will dominate, with running backs, quarterbacks and wide receivers being ignored by most teams, who will choose instead to get better in the trenches with players who can protect the quarterback or put him on the ground.
1. Kansas City Chiefs OT Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M
2. Jacksonville Jaguars OT Eric Fisher, Central Michigan
3. Oakland Raiders DT Sharrif Floyd, Florida
4. Philadelphia Eagles DT Star Lotulelei, Utah
5. Detroit Lions CB Dee Milliner, Alabama
6. Cleveland Browns DE-OLB Damontre Moore, Texas A&M
7. Arizona Cardinals OG Chance Warmack, Alabama
8. Buffalo Bills LB Alec Ogletree, Georgia
His recent speeding and “weeding” notwithstanding, the much-maligned J’Marcus Webb has actually been a huge bargain for the Bears.
In the three seasons since he was drafted in the seventh and last round in 2010, Webb has started 44 games, including all 32 at left tackle the past two seasons. His performance has been sketchy at best, but he plays the most difficult position on the O-line and he was left on an island way too often by offensive coordinator Mike Martz in 2011, when he allowed an NFL-worst 14 sacks.
Webb’s performance has been up and down, but who among the eclectic collection of offensive linemen the Bears have trotted out in the past three years has been any better? Lance Louis, and that’s about it.