The Bears need to plug holes on defense. Phil Emery and Marc Trestman have already stated their focus at the combine and in May’s draft will be primarily defensive. Expect them to go defensive with at least their first three picks. Whichever way it shakes out, they need to pick up another tight end to back up Martellus Bennett.
Being able to play with a two tight end set will give the Bears’ already potent offense added looks next season. Chicago doesn’t need the next Vernon Davis, which is good because Eric Ebron will be gone long before the Bears look to add a tight end. They just need someone with decent hands who can also provide stable run blocking. There’s a few guys that come to mind who can provide those services for Chicago.
As we’ve discussed before, Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz can catch and block. He can also run, putting up a decent 4.76 40 at the combine last weekend. His 25 reps on bench proved he’s got the strength. His catches last season wouldn’t blow you away (23), but Iowa was a run-first team and Fiedorowicz did a good job blocking for Mark Weisman. He’d also give Cutler a big target to throw to in short yardage at 6-7, 265.
There’s another throwback tight end on the radar for Chicago. As our own Ross Read mentioned, Georgia’s Arthur Lynch could be a good fit. He provided good blocking for the Bulldogs, helping running back Todd Gurley have a stellar year. He also caught 30 passes for 469 yards and 5 touchdowns. Lynch is 6-5, 254 so he’d be a big target in the red zone and short yardage. The Bears were top 10 in the league last year on third down, and by adding Lynch they’d give defenses one more headache on top of Bennett and two all pro wide outs.
Since Emery is always taken with athletes, it’s worth mentioning a couple other guys he may notice.
Wisconsin’s Jacob Pedersen is yet another tight end from a run first team, but he presents a good option as a versatile pass catcher. He had 39 catches for over 500 yards last season. He averaged over 14 yards per catch, so he can get downfield and give the Bears that elusive “matchup problem” quality that Bennett also provides. At 6-3, 242 he may have to put on some weight, but he’s got a good set of all around skills to work with.
Oregon’s Colt Lyerla improved his draft stock with an impressive combine this past weekend. He ran the third best 40 time of all tight ends at 4.61. He also finished tops in the vertical and broad jump among tight ends. His downside is brute strength, only putting up 15 reps on the bench. He had off the field problems at Oregon, including an arrest for what turned out to be cocaine. Lyerla’s skillset isn’t in as high of demand for Chicago since they’d like a run blocking tight end that can catch, but Emery has surprised before and Trestman could definitely find creative ways to use him in the passing game.