The Bears have built an ever-evolving defense that is getting stronger every year. One of the key parts of that defense is the pass rush. What do that Bears need at edge rusher heading into the 2018 season and what can they do about it?
(Photo Courtesy of the Ten Yard Line)
The 2017 Chicago Bears did generate quite a few sacks, but they didn’t get a lot of production from their edge rushers. There were injuries and ineffective play which caused them to miss out on several opportunities to get to the quarterback and make a difference. Now, they are faced with a situation where they have to do something at the edge position to make their defense better.
But what should they do?
In trying to decide what they should do, you must look at what they have. Currently, at the edge rusher (outside linebacker) position they have Leonard Floyd, Pernell McPhee, Sam Acho, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston. Floyd, Young, and McPhee ended the season on injured reserve. Acho did some good things as did Houston when the Bears re-signed him. But overall, the pass rush from the outside was somewhat stagnant. Floyd led the outside backers with 4.5 sacks. That’s it, for one player.
Now the Bears have some decisions to make. They need to figure out how they are going to fix their edge rusher position. They have Floyd, who, if he can stay healthy, could be one of the better edge rushers in the NFL. The rest of the talent there is questionable. Either the players are injury prone or they are getting up there in age. The Bears may need to start from scratch.
Free agency and the draft are two avenues where the Bears could get some help. They need to stack their bare cupboard with great talent. First, what’s needed is someone to play opposite Floyd helping to make a dual threat rushing the passer.
Should the Bears want to take an edge rusher in the 2018 NFL Draft, they might want to look at grabbing someone in the first or second round. In those two rounds, an impact player could be taken. Some of the names that are being bantered about as higher first round talent include Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell and Austin Bryant as well as Boston College’s Harold Landry. Those are three guys that could realistically be around at number eight and be worthy of that pick.
Let’s first see how they do in the pre-draft workouts and combine.
Should Chicago go another route with their first-round pick, there are some guys they could take in the second round that would be of some value as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Those guys include Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard, Missouri’s Michael Frazier, and Georgia’s Lorenzo Carter. Any one of these three players could be decent second round talent. After that, with no third-round pick (so far) the Bears could take some depth at the edge rusher and develop someone to possibly be a future starter.
Some talent that could be available in the fourth or fifth round includes Miami’s Chad Thomas, USC’s Uchenna Nwosu and Ohio State’s Tyquan Lewis. Perhaps one of these guys could develop into a starter a year or two down the line.
But the Bears need help now.
There is no doubt that getting a better pass rush is something the Bears desperately need to do. They need to restock what they have at the 3-4 outside linebacker spot badly. Chicago needs to figure out what they want to do with the guys they have on the roster right now. We know Floyd is a lock but what about the underachieving McPhee or the aging Sam Acho? What should the Bears do with those guys?
It’s going to be interesting to see what Chicago decides to do at the edge rusher position this offseason. What will the draft philosophy be geared towards an edge rusher? Is free agency going to be the place the Bears decide to grab some help? Would they be interested in any of the potential draftees listed above or would they like free agents like Nigel Bradham or Anthony Hitchens to help them shore up the outside linebacker spot?
We will have to wait and see.
Pro Football Spot will dig into the needs at outside linebacker/edge rusher further as the off-season moves along. We will see what some of the Bears options are both in the draft and in free agency and which route might be the best for the Bears to go in during the off-season as they build their roster into one that will win them a lot of games.