NFL draft week is officially upon us and the wait to find out the next Chicago Bears draft class is nearly over. General manager Ryan Poles, heading into his first draft as the man in charge, has already begun overhauling the team roster and now gets the chance to truly make his mark in the draft.
Both sides of the ball will get plenty of attention during the selection process, but it’s fair to say offense is more of a priority. Not only are the Bears needing to surround their second-year quarterback with more talent, but they’ll need to acquire depth and new playmakers to help move the team move forward after sitting near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category the last few seasons.
There are plenty of questions to answer, but here are our most pressing ones for each offensive position heading into draft weekend.
Quarterback: Does Justin Fields have enough weapons and support to succeed in year 2?
AP Photo/Aaron Gash
We won’t even entertain the nonsense that the new Bears regime could look to move on from Justin Fields sooner rather than later. But the question about his supporting cast is a valid one.
After an up-and-down rookie season, the Bears are banking on a new offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme and offensive strategy to unlock Fields’ potential, rather than loading up at the skill positions. The team isn’t barren as they still have capable playmakers at running back, tight end, and wide receiver. But did the Bears not do enough in free agency to help him out?
Free agent signees Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, Ryan Griffin, James O’Shaughnessy, and David Moore have all been low-risk acquisitions with limited upside. That could change in the draft but even with rookies coming in, does Fields need even more support? Or will this be enough?
Running back: Will this be David Montgomery’s final season in Chicago?
AP Photo/Aaron Gash
Aside from likely finding another player for depth, the Bears running back position appears to be in good shape. David Montgomery and Khalil Herbert will likely enter camp as the top two backs, respectively, while Darrynton Evans currently sits third on the depth chart. But could a shakeup happen after this season?
Montgomery, who has effectively been the team’s starting back since being drafted in 2019, is entering the final year of his contract. Though he’s been productive in an otherwise dismal offense, the cards might be stacked against him. Given his punishing running style and the fact running backs have been devalued over the last decade or so, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears let Montgomery hit free agency and hand the reins over the Herbert following the 2022 season.
But both Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus have publicly recognized Montgomery for not only his play but his leadership and see him as a valuable player on the team. Could a contract extension be in the works after all? It could be a questions asked all season long but perhaps this year’s draft offers a glimpse about what the Bears might do going forward if they select another running back.
Wide receiver: Is Darnell Mooney a true WR1?
AP Photo/Jason Behnken
It would be a major upset to see the Bears not address the receiver position at some point on the second day of the draft, but no matter who they select, they’ll be playing second fiddle to third-year wide receiver Darnell Mooney.
The former Tulane star continued to rise this past season, eclipsing 1,000 yards for the first time in his career, leading the team in receptions, yards, and receiving touchdowns while becoming the go-to option for Fields. But the nagging question has been if he can ascend to a difference-making wide receiver, also known as a WR1.
Mooney has the numbers, but can he take over games like a player such as Davante Adams or Cooper Kupp? His rapport with Fields will only help his case and perhaps in the right system and a strong supporting cast, those standards can be met. At this point, however, the question is valid and Mooney will need to take another step to reach that pantheon.
Tight end: What is Cole Kmet’s ceiling?
AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson
In a similar vein as Mooney, there continues to be quite a bit of discourse regarding Cole Kmet’s potential. Entering Year 3, Kmet took a big step forward from 2020 to 2021. His receptions (60) and receiving yards (612) more than doubled, though he had no touchdowns. Still, he was the second-leading receiver as the team’s in-line tight end and showed growth in certain areas. Many fans aren’t loving Kmet’s overall production, believing he needs At this point in his career, how good is Kmet and what is his ceiling?
Playing under Getsy, Kmet could become the Bears’ version of Robert Tonyan, the Green Bay Packers tight end who excelled in 2020. Tonyan had 52 receptions for 586 yards, but he was relentless in the redzone, scoring 11 touchdowns. Kmet’s a bigger target and plays a larger role in the running game than Tonyan, but the fit is there. If he continues to work on areas of his game, such as tracking the ball in, Kmet can continue to rise and become one of the better tight ends in the league.
Offensive line: Are Larry Borom and Teven Jenkins the starting tackles in September?
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So much can change in just one year. After being selected in the 2021 NFL Draft, tackles Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom both appeared to be on the fast track to be the team’s starters on the offensive line. Jenkins, a second-round pick, was seen as a steal as the Bears moved up to get him. Borom was also a solid selection in the fifth round, offering plenty of upside and it showed early in the offseason programs. But injuries during their rookie year and a regime change threw all of those predictions in the air.
As of now, Jenkins and Borom reversed roles from what they did last season. Jenkins is now practicing at right tackle and Borom at left as starters. It’s the logical solution given their strengths coming out of college, but are Poles and Eberflus content with them going into the season as the starters? Will there be a push to find a starting-caliber tackle during the draft? It’s still so early and training camp is three months away from kicking off. A lot can change between the draft and then, but this might be the biggest question on offense right now.