The Chicago Bears are one of four teams kicking off phase one of their offseason program Monday, as clubs with new head coaches are permitted to get back to work earlier than the rest of the league. This week marks Head Coach Matt Eberflus’ first opportunity to work with his players, albeit in a very limited capacity, at Halas Hall.
Phase one of the offseason program is limited to meetings, physical conditioning and rehabilitation. The Bears will hold a voluntary veteran minicamp later this month to do the on-field work. Still, it gives Eberflus his first real chance to get to know some of the guys he hasn’t had an opportunity to work with yet, and every bit of intel and face time helps for a team with a lot of holes to fill in the 2022 NFL Draft and beyond.
The Bears have been one of the more inactive teams in free agency this year. Their headliner signings include wide receiver Byron Pringle and center Lucas Patrick, both of whom are expected to start and play a big role. Neither veteran comes with much fanfare, however, and has the fanbase feeling less than satisfied.
The good news for Chicago is the depth of the 2022 NFL Draft class. There will be several starting-caliber wide receivers available in the second and third rounds. The Bears haven’t done much to help quarterback Justin Fields as he enters his second season, but with two top-50 picks in his arsenal, General Manager Ryan Poles has a chance to fix that in a big way.
The Bears’ holes extend beyond wide receiver, though. They’re missing a starting guard and, potentially a starter at cornerback and safety. Depth at tight end is non-existent and questions remain whether either second-year offensive tackle is the long-term answer. There’s only so much Poles can do in the NFL draft to address these issues, so the Bears will fill a few of these voids with veteran free agents as the calendar inches toward the summer.
The 2022 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 28 at 8:00 p.m. EST and runs through Saturday, April 30. The Bears’ first pick, barring a trade, will take place during the second round on Friday night, No. 39 overall. Chicago’s next selection is No.48 overall, the pick they received from the Los Angeles Chargers in the Khalil Mack trade.
The presumption is the Bears will end round two with at least one wide receiver and an offensive linemen, likely an interior player. Both rookies will be expected to start in 2022. It’ll be the kind of draft haul that quickly flips the narrative of Poles’ first offseason as general manager from underwhelming to calculated and strategic.
Until then, the Bears are officially back to work in what’s certain to be a season full of unexpected twists and turns.
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