Top post-draft needs: NFC North

Pressing remaining needs for the Bears, Lions, Packers and Vikings

Originally Published: May 16, 2012
By Andy Benoit | Football Outsiders
Carimi/WebbGetty ImagesThe Bears need Gabe Carimi and J'Marcus Webb to perform and stay healthy next season.

This is the seventh part of an eight-part series in which Football Outsiders looks at the biggest post-draft needs for every NFL team. Last week consisted of the AFC teams, by division, while this week will focus on the NFC.

Today, Outsiders looks at the NFC North.


Chicago Bears: Offensive line

Offensive line has become something of a perpetual hole for the Bears. In fact, we don't even really analyze the Bears' offensive line anymore -- we just assume it will find a way to flounder. J'Marcus Webb may build on the hint of improvement he showed in 2011 and last year's first-round pick, Gabe Carimi, could be at full strength after missing most of his rookie season with a knee injury. However, Webb led the league with 15 offensive penalties in 2011 and Carimi looked mentally (and at times physically) overwhelmed in his five-and-a-half quarters of regular season action last year.

A good veteran swing tackle would do wonders for the Bears. Not only would it provide other options if Webb or Carimi don't perform, it would also prevent guards Chris Williams and Lance Louis from having to slide outside should an offensive tackle vacancy arise. Neither player has performed well at tackle in the past (that's why they're guards now), and a lot of Chicago's offensive line woes derive from the instability that's come from players frequently changing positions. That, in turn, is a big part of why Jay Cutler sometimes stops trusting his protection and becomes erratic.

The Bears do at least have some quality depth at guard in Chris Spencer, but his adequacy inside doesn't change the inadequacy of Williams and Louis outside.