Plugging the Holes: NFC North
Identifying biggest post-draft needs for Bears, Lions, Packers and Vikings
In this post-draft edition of Plugging the Holes, Football Outsiders will look at the biggest remaining personnel need of every team, going division by division.
We kicked off the series with the NFC East, and now we move on to the NFC North.
Chicago Bears: Safety
Every offseason, Bears general manager Phil Emery picks his team's biggest weakness and attacks it. He rebuilt the entire offensive line in the 2013 offseason. This offseason, Chicago spent on the defensive line. Lamarr Houston and Jared Allen are big splashes added to a line that needed improvement. Willie Young and Israel Idonije (who played for the Lions in 2013 after nine seasons with the Bears) are the types of smaller pieces that could have prevented the defensive collapse Chicago had in 2013. The Bears also spent two second-day picks on help at defensive tackle, selecting Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton.
The Bears were not quite as aggressive in addressing the back seven. Tim Jennings was re-signed, and Lance Briggs should be healthy. First-round pick Kyle Fuller should help solidify the other starting cornerback slot if Charles Tillman has lost what has made him special. While the Bears also have question marks at linebacker, they also have some draft pedigree there. Jon Bostic and Shea McClellin were both picked in the first two rounds, and Khaseem Greene also has some promise. Unshaped potential isn't production, but at least it's a starting point.
However, the Bears added only bit pieces at safety, which continues to be a position of need. Journeyman Ryan Mundy will be in line to replace the departed Major Wright. Incumbent starter Chris Conte has range, but he accumulated more broken tackles (16) than any defender in the NFL last season. Projected top backup M.D. Jennings was so bad last season that the Packers didn't tender him an offer as a restricted free agent, despite that being a need area for Green Bay. Fourth-rounder Brock Vereen out of Minnesota could climb this depth chart in a hurry. Draftniks see Vereen as a rangy player who will fit well at free safety. He also had cornerback experience for the Golden Gophers.
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