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Heading into Draft, O-Line Isn't Bears Biggest Need

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Heading into Draft, O-Line Isn't Bears Biggest Need

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CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 11: Jay Cutler #6 of the Chicago Bears looks for a receiver as teammates (L-R) J'Marcus Webb #73, Chris Williams #74, Roberto Garza #63 and Chris Spencer #67 block against the Atlanta Falcons at Soldier Field on September 11, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Falcons 30-12. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jay Cutler; J'Marcus Webb; Chris Williams; Roberto Garza

The NFL draft less than a month away, and mock drafts are popping up left and right. After months of saying the Bears needs a wide out, draft experts Todd McShay and Don Banks said the Bears need to pick up Stanford's big offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.

The acquisition of Brandon Marshall opened up the draft for the Bears. Instead of having to use the first-round draft pick on a receiver like Michael Floyd, Chicago can address other needs through the early rounds of the draft. Taking a look at raw numbers on the Bears, it may seem like offensive line is still a need. J'Marcus Webb didn't get the job done, so why not draft a left tackle like Martin to replace him? That's exactly what Banks said.

I don't think the Bears should get tricky here. J'Marcus Webb is not the answer at left tackle, and Martin has a solid first-round grade. It's a match made in heaven. Jay Cutler got his No. 1 receiver in Brandon Marshall, now he needs to get better protection. Martin and last year's first-round pick, offensive tackle Gabe Carimi, would be bookends for the future. 

Except, to come to that conclusion you have to take an extremely simplistic look at the Bears. While the line did give up 49 sacks, 19 of those came in six games where Caleb Hanie started and seven more were of Josh McCown. Hanie did not trust his line and didn't get rid of the ball with any speed, so of course he was sacked often. The first two games of the season were rough for Cutler and the line, but after that, he was sacked no more than three times per game. Against the Eagles and Charges, he was not sacked at all. 

Assuming the Bears need another lineman also doesn't take into account that the Bears were running the Mike Martz offense in 2011. In that offense, the left edge is often left up to the lineman alone, without any help from a running back or tight end. Thankfully, that offense won't be in place in 2012 as Mike Tice takes over as offensive coordinator. Help on the line means holding off opponents' pass rush won't just be the responsibility of the line. 

It's not that the Bears couldn't use a lineman to develop, but to use a first-round pick there when the Bears have glaring needs on defense doesn't make sense.

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