The first round of the 2013 Draft kicks off on April 25, and every team will look to build for both present and future. This is the 20th in a two-a-day, 30-part series that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit.
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2012 record: 10-6
Key offseason acquisitions:
D.J. Williams, linebacker
Martellus Bennett, tight end
Jermon Bushrod, tackle
James Anderson, linebacker
Matt Slauson, guard
Brian Urlacher, middle linebacker
Nick Roach, linebacker
Israel Idonije, defensive end
Chris Spencer, center
Kellen Davis, tight end
Jason Campbell, quarterback
Biggest holes in roster: Middle linebacker, guard, defensive end
Before the 2012 season, it may have been hard to imagine the stingy Chicago defense without middle linebacker Brian Urlacher, who many people considered the heart and soul of the unit. Fast-forward to today, and the Bears are trying to move on without their veteran leader after the two sides could not agree on a deal.
The Bears signed D.J. Williams and James Anderson to replace Urlacher and fellow linebacker Nick Roach, who signed with the Raiders. Still, they could use another presence on the inside. Who they take depends on what the Giants and other linebacker-needy teams ahead of them do. But assuming nothing too crazy happens, the Bears could find Urlacher's true replacement with their first-round pick.
Some fans may view it as a controversial pick, but the best choice for the Bears may be taking Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o. Putting the Lennay Kekua hoax aside, Te'o is a tackling machine who projects very well in a 4-3 defense. The Heisman Trophy runner-up rebounded from a slow 40-yard dash at the Combine (4.82 seconds) to post a more respectable 4.69 at his Pro Day.
I Te'o is also known as a vocal presence in the locker room and could provide some good, young leadership. If the Bears feel Te'o is past the catfishing scandal that was the talk of the offseason, he may be the most logical choice.
An even better choice, if he is still available, would be Georgia's Alec Ogletree. Like Urlacher, Ogletree is a former safety who thrived after moving up into the box as an inside linebacker. The Georgia product has speed and tackling power, and is one of the top pure athletes in the draft. Ogletree comes with character issues abound -- including two suspensions while at Georgia and a DUI arrest leading up to the Combine. But if the Bears do take him, he'd be a younger, faster version of their former Defensive Player of the Year.
UCLA defensive end Datone Jones, while not as speedy as the departed Israel Idonije, could be tabbed here too. Jones is bigger than traditional ends, checking in at 6-4 and 283 pounds. He does have some speed, clocking a 4.80 in the 40 at the Combine. That combination of size and speed allowed him to line up both inside and outside with equal effectiveness at UCLA. Jones had an incredibly productive senior season, with 62 tackles (19 for a loss) and 5 1/2 sacks. He is expected to go a little later on in the draft, however, so the Bears might be reaching for him with the 20th pick.