Dan, do you see Marc Trestman replacing Johnny Knox with another speedy receiver in the draft? I really believe that he was a major missing piece of their offense since his catastrophic injury. I just don't think Trestman will find another one in free agency. -- Chuck Durante, Guilin, China
I would agree the best chance to get a speed receiver would be in the draft. It's a good draft for receivers who can run, and there aren't many fast free agent wideouts. Some of the faster receivers who are first round possibilities include Cordarrelle Patterson of Tennessee, Tavon Austin of West Virginia and Justin Hunter of Tennessee. Speedsters who could go in the second are Markus Wheaton of Oregon State and Ryan Swope of Texas A&M. Third round options could be Marquise Goodwin of Texas, Corey Fuller of Virginia Tech and Kenny Stills of Oklahoma. And two burners who could go in the fourth or later are Denard Robinson of Michigan and Josh Boyce of Texas Christian. The best available speed receiver of all is free agent Mike Wallace of the Steelers. But he might become the highest paid free agent at any position, and he does not appear to be a viable option for the Bears. There aren't many other young free agent receivers who can run. Jerome Simpson of the Vikings could be interesting at the right price. And another who would pique my curiosity is Donnie Avery of the Colts.
I like the way you are thinking. Such a deal could make sense, though if I were running the Falcons I would not give up a second round pick to move up 10 spots in the first unless I received something else in return. An offer of the 30th pick in the first round, the Falcons' third and fourth round picks might be more palatable from the Atlanta perspective.
Now that the Bears have an offensive minded coach, any chance they draft a quarterback to develop? -- @bearfangrey, from Twitter
It's always a possibility, especially if a QB they have highly rated falls to the Bears in the later rounds. But I would not call it a probability this year, just because the Bears have only five draft picks. A developmental quarterback would be a luxury pick. It's likely all of their selections will be necessity picks. Plus, the Bears already have a developmental quarterback. Don't forget about Matt Blanchard. He could stick next season.
Are there any UFA left tackles who you believe would be a significant upgrade over J'Marcus Webb? If not, do you think we should go after a premier guard like Andy Levitre? -- Steve Tallarico, Boston
In terms of players who have not been tagged or re-signed, the only one who would be a clear upgrade over Webb as a left tackle is Jermon Bushrod of the Saints. And a decent chance exists he will not hit the open market. So the options are very limited. Going after a premier guard, assuming there are premier guards to go after, could be a more appealing alternative. Right now, some of the possibilities are Levitre, Brandon Moore of the Jets, Kevin Boothe of the Giants and Louis Vasquez of the Chargers. But the Bears' top priority at guard has to be re-signing Lance Louis.
It seems like the Bears won't have a shot at a starting LT in the draft. Do you know if the Vikings' Phil Loadholt or the Patriots' Sebastian Vollmer could make the move from RT to LT? -- Mark Schroeder, Palatine
Because there aren't enough pure left tackles, there are quite a few left tackles in the NFL who should be right tackles. If either Loadholt or Vollmer were moved to the left side, they would be in that category. They both are pretty good right tackles. Based on the opinions of front office men I have spoken with, both would probably be very average left tackles.
Dan, you weren't serious in last week's mailbag when you wrote that the Bears have to make sure they could acquire a better player before releasing Kellen Davis, right? I dare you to name one starting tight end in the league worse than him. I would take any of our current backups at the position and start them over Davis. And there's no way that both Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz will be gone by the time we pick in the first round. Plus, by cutting him we could spend that money on a player who is actually productive and makes our team better like Nick Roach or Israel Idonije. -- Ray Tabano, East St. Louis
Hold on a minute, Ray. I know where you are coming from, but I think you are a little too down on Davis. He had a bad year as a receiver. He probably never will be a dynamic playmaker, or even a reliable pass catcher. But he isn't worthless. He is a decent blocker. He is somewhat of a physical freak with a rare combination of size and speed. I think the reason so many are down on Davis is expectations were raised way too high for him. Some people thought he could become something he could not. He will play somewhere in the NFL next year. And I would bet he'll play better than he did in 2012.
Martellus Bennett? Is this a viable option? -- @JoshuaPolite, from Twitter
Assuming he does not re-sign with the Giants (they are trying), and assuming the Bears have the financial wherewithal to go after a big fish, Bennett makes a lot of sense. He is a similar player to Kellen Davis, but without the drops. He's big and fast and he had a very productive season. After some uneven years in Dallas, Bennett appears to have matured as a player and person during his season with the Giants. He would be an excellent complementary weapon to Brandon Marshall, and he would give the Bears an element they have been missing.
At 20 the Bears have a good shot at drafting at least one of two playmakers at TE (Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert). Do you believe there is any other player at 20 that can have a bigger impact then those two? Danke! -- Yair, Berlin, Germany
Good question Yair. If we are talking playmakers, I'll assume you mean tight ends, wide receivers or running backs. Eifert and Ertz will be the top tight ends on almost every board. At the wide receiver position, it's still a little unclear about who is No. 1, and how high in the first round the top receivers will go. Right now, I would say Patterson, Austin, Hunter and Keenan Allen of Cal are first round possibilities. But I don't think they'll all go in the first. And I'd be surprised if more than two of them were off the board before the Bears' 20th pick. You might say Patterson and Austin would be superior playmakers. But the tight ends would address the bigger need at this point. Alabama's Eddie Lacy is the top rated running back by most, but I don't think he will be rated higher than Eifert by most. So by this definition of playmaker, Eifert and Ertz probably will be among the Bears' best choices at 20.
If the Bears trade Henry Melton, what picks could they receive? If we could get like two seconds it makes sense for me. -- @_H23_, from Twitter
Teams cannot trade players who have been hit with a franchise tag until they have been signed to contracts. So at the moment Melton is untradeable. To trade him, they would have to sign him to a contract that his new team would find appealing. His trade value would be diminished because a new team would have to pay Melton like a top free agent, plus give up trade compensation. I'm not sure the Bears could get two second round picks for Melton even though he's worth that. I can't think of a comparable player and situation. Richard Seymour was traded to the Raiders from the Patriots in September of 2009 for a first round pick, but he was under contract until the end of the season.
At last count the Bears had 16 players listed under reserve/future contracts category. From your perspective do any of these players have the skill level to make the team? -- Tom Sadler, Sister Bay, Wis.
These are the players the Bears signed to reserve/futures contacts: Blanchard, G Derrick Dennis, TE Brody Eldridge, CB Isaiah Frey, WR Brittan Golden , TE Gabe Miller, WR Dale Moss, S Tom Nelson , TE Fendi Onobun, DE Cheta Ozougwu, S Cyhl Quarles, G Chris Riley, WR Terrence Toliver, LB Patrick Trahan , DE Aston Whiteside and LB Lawrence Wilson. Most of them are camp bodies who never will see a regular season game. But it is not unusual for one or two of players from the reserves/futures signings to emerge as legitimate players. We already know the Bears like Blanchard, Frey and Ozougwu because they kept them around for most of last season. Frey is the only one of these players who was a Phil Emery draft pick. Depending on how the cornerback position shakes out on the roster, I think he could have a chance to stick.
Seems like the Bears players got way too comfortable with Lovie Smith, the famous "players coach." Is Trestman coming in with a mandate for a wake-up call to get everyone's attention? -- David Leitschuh, Evanston
I think there is somewhat of a misconception about Smith going too easy on his players. Smith helped create that misconception by never uttering a negative word about his players publicly. But behind closed doors, he was known to be more demanding. When a player stepped out of line, trust me, he heard about it from Smith. I would expect a similar approach from Trestman. The one difference is the Bears' roster had been filled with Lovie's players. These are not Trestman's players. They will have to prove themselves to the new sheriff in town. If they don't, it won't be the head coach who is packing bags this time.