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Chicago Bears: Top free agency, NFL draft needs for 2017

By The Sports Xchange
Chicago Bears: Top free agency, NFL draft needs for 2017
Philadelphia Eagles strong safety Malcolm Jenkins (R) and Chicago Bears strong safety Harold Jones-Quartey shake hands after the game at Soldier Field in Chicago on September 19, 2016. The Eagles defeated the Bears 29-14. Photo by Brian Kersey/UPI | License Photo

As they wade through free agency and prepare to evaluate draft prospects at the Indianapolis Scouting Combine (March 1-6), the Chicago Bears must decide which players to keep as they seek to improve upon their 3-13 record from last season.

The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com evaluated the Bears' roster and created a shopping list to use in free agency and reference during the Combine.

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The future of quarterback Jay Cutler is a big question in Chicago, where the brain trust has to determine whether the club's long-term quarterback is currently on the roster and, if not, how the Bears will go about figuring out who is next.

Run defense must be shored up, and the back end of the defense also needs an upgrade.

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THE BREAKDOWN

2016 finish: 4th in NFC North (3-13)

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STATISTICS

TOTAL OFFENSE: 356.5 (15th)

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RUSHING: 108.4 (17th)

PASSING: 248.1 (14th)

TOTAL DEFENSE: 346.8 (15th)

RUSHING: 121.9 (27th)

PASSING: 224.9 (7th)

NEEDS, SHOPPING LIST

*=Expected to be released; option not expected to be exercised

TOP 3 NEEDS

QUARTERBACK

The Bears need a smart, young field leader with a rocket arm. Good luck with that. They may need to look for one in free agency.

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UFA TARGETS (Age, 2016 salary)

Kirk Cousins, Washington (29 in August, $19.95M)

*Tony Romo, Dallas (37 in April, $18M)

Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay (28 in December, $776K)

*Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo (28 in August, $18M)

*Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco (30 in November, $19M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht., Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

1/12 Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina, 6-3, 220, 4.74, 1 (underclassman)

2/20 DeShone Kizer, Notre Dame, 6-4, 230, 4.76, 1 (underclassman)

3/29 Deshaun Watson, Clemson, 6-2, 215, 4.64, 1-2 (underclassman)

4/70 Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech, 6-2, 229, 4.84, 2-3 (underclassman)

5/99 Brad Kaaya, Miami (FL), 6-4, 210, 4.84, 3 (underclassman)

CORNERBACK

A stronger pass rush was supposed to make these cornerbacks better -- but they'd need the 1985 Bears' pass rush to compensate. Kyle Fuller is a wasted first-rounder.

UFA TARGETS (Age, 2016 salary)

A.J. Bouye, Houston (26 in August, $1.67M)

Trumaine Johnson, L.A. Rams (27, $13.95M)

Logan Ryan, New England (26, $693K)

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Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo (27 in September, $3.02M)

Brandon Carr, Dallas (31 in May, $10M)

Prince Amukamara, Jacksonville (28 in June, $5.5M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht, Wt., 40 time, Proj. Rd.)

1/10 Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State, 6-0, 195, 4.47, 1 (underclassman)

2/15 Teez Tabor, Florida, 6-0, 201, 4.50, 1 (underclassman)

3/21 Marlon Humphrey, Alabama, 6-1, 196, 4.49, 1 (underclassman)

4/23 Sidney Jones, Washington, 6-0, 181, 4.49, 1 (underclassman)

5/34 Desmond King, Iowa, 5-11, 206, 4.53, 1-2

SAFETY

The Bears haven't had a legitimate, effective free safety since Mike Brown. It showed late in the season with all the long passes allowed.

UFA TARGETS (Age, 2016 salary)

Eric Berry, Kansas City (29 in December, $10.8M)

Barry Church, Dallas (29, $2.2M)

T.J. McDonald, L.A. Rams (26, $732K)

Chris Conte, Tampa Bay (28, $3M)

Quintin Demps, Houston (32 in June, $1.5M)

DRAFT TARGETS (Rating pos/overall, Player, School, Ht, Wt., Proj. Rd.)

1/4 Malik Hooker, Ohio State, 6-2, 205, 4.47, 1 (underclassman)

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2/6 Jamal Adams (SS), LSU, 6-0, 211, 4.54, 1 (underclassman)

3/13 Jabrill Peppers (SS), Michigan, 6-0, 205, 4.52, 1 (underclassman)

4/43 Budda Baker, Washington, 5-10, 192, 4.52, 2 (underclassman)

5/55 Obi Melifonwu (SS), Connecticut, 6-4, 219, 4.58, 2

UFA KEEPERS

WR Alshon Jeffery (27, $14.6M)

G/C Ted Larsen (30 in June, $1.65M)

ROSTER REVIEW

DEPTH CHART

Starters and backups are listed according to their status at the end of the season, but players who were starters before being injured are included.

* Indicates player who ended 2016 season on reserve.

& Indicates player released since the Super Bowl.

QUARTERBACKS: Starters -- *Jay Cutler. Backups -- *Brian Hoyer (UFA), Matt Barkley, *Connor Shaw, David Fales (UFA).

RUNNING BACKS: Starters -- Jordan Howard, FB Paul Lasike. Backups -- Jeremy Langford, Ka'Deem Carey, Bralon Addison.

TIGHT ENDS: Starter -- *Zach Miller. Backups -- Ben Braunecker, Daniel Brown, Logan Paulsen (UFA), MyCole Pruitt.

WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters -- *Kevin White, Alshon Jeffery (UFA). Backups -- Cameron Meredith, Josh Bellamy, Deonte Thompson (UFA), *Marquess Wilson (UFA), *Eddie Royal (UFA), Daniel Braverman.

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OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LT Charles Leno Jr., LG Josh Sitton, C Cody Whitehair, *RG Kyle Long, RT Bobby Massie. Backups -- G Ted Larsen (UFA), T Mike Adams (UFA), G Eric Kush, *C Hroniss Grasu, *T Nick Becton (UFA), T Matt McCants (UFA).

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters -- LDE Akiem Hicks, *NT Eddie Goldman, RDE Mitch Unrein. Backups -- *DE Ego Ferguson, *NT Will Sutton, DE Jonathan Bullard, DE Cornelius Washington (UFA), *NT C.J. Wilson (UFA).

LINEBACKERS: Starters -- OLB Pernell McPhee, *ILB Danny Trevathan, ILB Jerrell Freeman, OLB Leonard Floyd. Backups -- *OLB Lamarr Houston, OLB Willie Young, OLB Sam Acho, OLB Christian Jones, ILB Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB John Timu, ILB Jonathan Anderson, *ILB Danny Mason.

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters -- *CB Kyle Fuller, FS Adrian Amos, SS Harold Jones-Quartey, CB Tracy Porter. Backups -- CB Bryce Callahan, CB Cre'Von LeBlanc, CB Deiondre' Hall, CB Sherrick McManis, CB Johnthan Banks (UFA), S Chris Prosinski (UFA), DB Demontre Hurst, *CB Brandon Boykin (UFA), S DeAndre Houston-Carson, S Deon Bush.

SPECIAL TEAMS: K Connor Barth (UFA), P Pat O'Donnell, LS Patrick Scales (UFA).

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