While specific position battles dont materially play out during OTAs, it has been amply evident that the Bears came out of the 2012 free-agent market with perhaps the highest record of acquisition in recent memory.
Longtime friend John Clayton over at ESPN in fact rates the Bears offseason-to-date behind only Tampa Bay, Buffalo, St. Louis and Oakland. John is an annual visitor to Bourbonnais and does a superb job, has for many years, of getting up close on teams and key figures.
But its the basis for Johns rating that is especially interesting.
The Bucs get JCs top grade for bringing in wideout Vincent Jackson, guard Carl Nicks and cornerback Eric Wright all starters at an elite level, plus defensive tackle Amobi Okoye from the Bears. Same for the Bills with adding defensive end Mario Williams.
But the second-wave winners, including the Bears, are based on the quality of depth added. That is part of what is clearly apparent even in the OTAs.
Guard Chilo Rachal and cornerbacks Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite all have been starters and could be again. Rachal is getting spot work with the 1s, and the two corners are penciled in as competition for both Tim Jennings left cornerback spot and D.J. Moores nickel spot.
Linebacker Geno Hayes is an impact special-teams player and the level of this phase of Bears performance qualifies this as a starter addition.
The Bears reaped significant benefits from a signing like centerguard Chris Spencer last offseason; Spencer became a starter and likely still will be. Okoye was a contributor and opted for Tampa Bay. Vernon Gholston and Roy Williams were not particularly memorable. Marion Barber was, for all the wrong reasons.
But the 2012 additions come in on short-term deals, which translates to motivation in the NFL and that bodes very well for the Bears as they do their last week of OTAs before next weeks three-day full minicamp.