Is Kony Ealy the best option for the Bears in draft? There are not many other 4-3 defensive ends and he is versatile. -- @JoeRingblum from Twitter
The Missouri product is an interesting prospect because he’s got great length. He is 6-5, 275 pounds with long arms and he plays fast coming off the edge. He has the speed to make plays in pursuit and holds up adequately with strength at the point of attack. He can be a little inconsistent but it’s hard to find a pass-rushing prospect that doesn’t get hit with that label. If Ealy has a big combine, he could really generate some buzz heading toward the draft. You are right, he is one of the few 4-3 ends that look like first-round prospects at this point. South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney is at the head of the class and Ealy might be No. 2.
What are the odds the Bears try to re-sign Gabe Carimi and let Aarom Kromer work with him? -- @andrewsmith_16 from Twitter
I highly doubt that will happen. Carimi chose to work out on his own in Arizona last offseason instead of training with Kromer and the team in the voluntary workout program. Why would the Bears want to work with him now? The Bears were fortunate general manager Phil Emery was able to flip Carimi to the Bucs for a sixth-round pick. Maybe the Falcons and Mike Tice take a look at Carimi but he hasn’t been the same player since that knee injury suffered in Week 2 of his rookie season.
With the linebackers on the roster wouldn't it make more sense to draft big like Ted Washington to plug holes than a three technique like Timmy Jernigan? -- @3ricHartel from Twitter
You’re going to be hard pressed to find a player like Ted Washington in this draft or any draft. Washington was over 400 pounds at certain points in his career with the Bears. The most pressing issue inside is finding a disruptive player, the kind of three technique tackle that can create problems for the offense in passing and running situations. I didn’t watch Jon Bostic and Khaseem Greene and the other linebackers last season and get the impression they needed a massive run plugger (with no value in passing situations) to make them better. Washington and Keith Traylor were terrific in their short run with the Bears but it’s a passing league and I think you need to be seeking more athletic players, even at a position known for brawn.
D-line, linebacker or safety in the first round? -- @RickertDave from Twitter
If all things are equal, defensive line. I wouldn’t rule out cornerback either. That is clearly a position of need. But defenses need to be built from the trenches on back.
If the Bears cut Julius Peppers, go with a defensive tackle in the first round of the draft and re-sign Henry Melton, what are the chances Melton moves outside to end? -- @mkramer1121 from Twitter
I’d say there is no chance of that happening. The Bears drafted Melton as an end and used him there briefly but it was late in training camp his rookie season that then defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli shifted him inside to tackle. Melton added some strength and weight when he spent that entire season on injured reserve and now he is ideally suited as a tackle. I don’t think he has the speed to play off the edge at a high level. Provided he returns in good shape from the ACL reconstruction, he will play tackle at a high level. Why switch him away from his best position? That would marginalize his talent.
How likely is the possibility of the Bears and Brandon Marshall agreeing on a potential contract extension that could save cap space? -- @EDuerrwaechter from Twitter
My guess is a contract extension is a more pressing issue for Marshall right now than for the team. The Pro Bowl wide receiver is entering the final year of his contract, and is set to earn $9.1 million in base salary with a $200,000 workout bonus to bring his total compensation and cap figure to $9.3 million.
Could a new deal lower that cap figure slightly for 2014? I suppose that is possible but that would require a big bonus payment and many years to spread that money out over the life of the contract for purposes of the cap. Marshall turns 30 next month meaning he will be 31 when the contract is completed. He’s one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and issues that plagued him previously in Denver and Miami have not been factors at Halas Hall. He’s had three arthroscopic hip surgeries, the most recent last January, one that forced him to miss pretty much the entire offseason program. As we saw, it didn’t impact his production on the field where he has been a model of durability.
I would imagine the Bears would like to work out a deal for Marshall to keep him in place for several seasons to come but they’ve done some big spending this offseason already and have major work to do on defense. Marshall’s buddy Jay Cutler played to the end of his last contract before getting a new deal. It could be Marshall has to do the same thing. That would be advantageous for the Bears but would saddle Marshall with injury risk for this coming season. Alshon Jeffery has emerged as a dynamic playmaker and the Bears could be in a situation where they need to pay him after this season also. But it’s hard to think Marshall isn’t in future plans.
Is there any chance that Johnny Knox could ever return? -- @toddlikesgolf from Twitter
No. Knox’s spinal cord injury was career ending. He was a terrific player and the arrow was pointing up on his career when it ended.
Do the Bears draft a quarterback? -- @BirchwoodJB from Twitter
Good question. It’s never a bad idea to have a developmental quarterback in the pipeline. But Jay Cutler’s seven-year contract means he’s probably the team’s quarterback for at least the next three seasons, if not more. If the Bears can re-sign Josh McCown, as they would like to, I don’t know that this is a priority. The Bears might be better served addressing another need and waiting a year.
I really don't see the powers that be targeting offensive players in the upcoming draft. They have their receiving core in place with other players like Marquess Wilson and Fendi Onobun waiting in the wings along with Michael Ford to challenge No. 2 running back Michael Bush. Maybe they draft a late-round quarterback. What are your thoughts? – Chuck D., Guilin, China
The core of this draft will have to be on defense but I don’t think general manager Phil Emery will blindly ignore some offensive holes that need to be filled. Wilson looks like he has some upside and I am anxious to see what he can do in his second season. I wouldn’t count on Onobun turning into a player and I believe the Bears need to carefully look at late-round possibilities at tight end because their depth at the position last season was insufficient. Remember, they used offensive tackle Eben Britton as a tight end for about two-thirds of the season. Maybe Ford can push for a No. 2 role but that is also a spot that could be filled in a variety of ways and if you like a running back late in the draft, why not take one? Drafting a center in the middle or late rounds is also a good idea unless the Bears have a strong feeling about Taylor Boggs, who served as Roberto Garza’s backup last season. There needs to be an infusion of some young talent on offense.