After overhauling a defense that cost the team several victories last season, the Chicago Bears look poised to compete in a division that should have two of the strongest offenses in the NFL (Detroit and Green Bay). Even so, to be a legitimate contender in the strong NFC North, Chicago must trade up in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft ensuring that a future star and a Day One starter is added to this team.
Picking up veterans through free agency was a nice start, but drafting a future centerpiece for this defense must be priority number one for a team that continues to experience immense turnover each offseason to the next.
Last May, after leading the defense for 13 years, Brian Urlacher retired.
Ten months later the team released Julius Peppers. And with only one year remaining on both their contracts, the careers of 12-year veterans Lance Briggs and Charles Tillman are coming to an end. Over the past decade the Bears have had one of the strongest and most talented defensive units in the entire NFL, but as time progresses so must this team, as 2014 must usher in a new era for this defense.
Since 2005 the team has drafted just one defensive player in the first round, Shea McClellin, thus failing to restock the team with any future leaders as star veterans aged.
For so long the Bears relied on their defense to get them out of trouble, forcing key turnovers and scoring more than any other squad in the league. No longer can the team depend on a defense that took them to the Super Bowl a mere eight seasons ago.
In 2013 the team has never looked more different, scoring more and gaining more yards than ever before, but if Super Bowl XLVIII showed us anything it’s that a prolific passing game doesn’t win championships. In the end, this team will go as far as the defense takes them, therefore adding a star defender in the first round is a no-brainer.
At pick number 14 Chicago is hardly in a bad position to pick an elite prospect, in 2013 DT Star Lotulelei was picked 14th by Carolina, and in 2011 DE Robert Quinn went 14th to St. Louis, (two of the best young defensive linemen in the NFL), however the 2014 Draft is simply one the Bears cannot afford to miss on. The team is in desperate need of leaders, guys like Brian Urlacher or Charles Tillman, who can be the backbone of the defense for the next decade, as Brian had been since 2000. Therefore, in order to best serve the short-term and long-term interests of the team the Bears must draft a top prospect in the first round, ensuring they contend next year and also have foundation for years to come.