Don't dismiss edge rusher as Bears' top priority in 2020 NFL draft

Don't dismiss edge rusher as Bears' top priority in 2020 NFL draft

The Chicago Bears' offseason needs are pretty clear and obvious. They need a veteran quarterback to compete with Mitch Trubisky for the starting job. They need a tight end to catch passes from said quarterback. And they need an upgrade along the offensive line to protect, again, said quarterback.

But it's just as important to make sure the defense has the tools needed to attack the opposing quarterback on a weekly basis, and with former first-round pick Leonard Floyd's ship officially sailing down the bust canal, GM Ryan Pace may have no choice but to use the 2020 NFL draft as the means to a pass-rushing end.

In The Draft Network's latest two-round mock draft, analyst Jordan Reid accomplishes that goal for the Bears and sends Penn State sack artist Yetur Gross-Matos to Chicago at No. 43 overall.

RELATED: Chicago Bears 7-round mock draft

If this mock turns into reality, Bears fans across the country will celebrate. Gross-Matos is a more naturally gifted edge rusher than Floyd ever was as a prospect coming out of Georgia, and while he still needs some refinement in his game, has the potential to be a double-digit sack guy in the NFL. His learning curve won't be nearly as extreme as it is for most rookies, either. He'd benefit from playing opposite Khalil Mack every week, which means a lot of one-on-ones and opportunities to make plays in the backfield.

Bears fans who are pounding the table for a tight end early in the 2020 draft will be happy with Reid's second pick for the Bears. He has Chicago selecting Washington's Hunter Bryant at No. 50 overall.

Bryant began the draft process as the most appealing pass-catcher in this year's tight end class, but I'm not sure it's going to end that way. He's lost some ground to players like Notre Dame's Cole Kmet and Purdue's Brycen Hopkins, and lesser-known prospects like FAU's Harrison Bryant and Dayton's Adam Trautman aren't far behind. In fact, Reid has Trautman coming off the board at No. 49 overall.

Still, Hunter Bryant would be a big-time upgrade for a Bears offense that simply needs more weapons at tight end. Trey Burton has a seat reserved on Floyd's ship and Adam Shaheen already arrived at their destination. There's simply no viable option at the position on the roster that the Bears can feel comfortable at this point and they have to add whoever that guy will be this offseason. The NFL draft is a great place to do it.

The offense is going to be the focus, at least initially, for the Bears' offseason plan. But don't be surprised if Pace turns his attention to the defense with his first pick in the draft.

Bears 17, Packers 13: Whose arrows are up and down after spoiling Favre's retirement

Bears 17, Packers 13: Whose arrows are up and down after spoiling Favre's retirement

Well, that probably felt good. 

The Bears were apparently none too pleased about being scheduled as the Packers' opponents on the night that Brett Favre was getting his number retired at Lambeau Field. In front of a packed crowd, on the (so rainy) holiday nightcap, the Bears outlasted Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in what'll surely be the most rewarding win of the upcoming 6-10 season. Here's whose arrows are up and down in the 17-13 win: 

ARROW UP – The Bears, just in general 

Good for the (4-6) Bears! They were still technically In The Hunt, but this wasn't a particularly strong team and boy is it disrespectful to be scheduled on Favre's big night. Things never break the Bears' way in this rivalry, and especially not in Green Bay. On a nationally-televised, holiday game no less? The Bears never, ever win this game. It wasn't "a good example of football" or "fun to watch," but the luxury of winning is you don't have to remember the details. 

ARROW DOWN – The passing game 

Cutler threw for 200 yards, and would have had a good bit more if there weren't so many drops. The constant, unrelenting rain that came down throughout this game obviously made the football hard to catch,  but the Bears dropped more than a couple balls. Alshon Jeffery was guilty of a couple, and Jeremey Langford's drop on 3rd and 2 in the 2nd quarter stood out as especially egregious. 

ARROW UP – Pat O'Donnell 

Eight punts for my man Pat. Eight! He racked up 323 yards while averaging 40.4 yards per punt on a night when special teams can get messy. The Packers faced tough field position all night – starting eight of their 12 drives within 20 yards of their own end zone – and O'Donnell was a big reason why. 

ARROW DOWN – Run defense 

To be fair, Eddy Lacy is huge. Lacy ran for 105 yards on 17 rushes, his longest rush of the night going for 29 yards. He was also useful out of the backfield for Green Bay, catching four balls for 34 yards – 25 of them coming on a touchdown in the first quarter. According to Pro Football Focus' grading system, this was the run defense's worst performance (36.5) of an otherwise okay season (74.1). Shea McClellin (27.7) and Christian Jones (33.8) were graded particularly poorly, though McClellin finished second on the team in tackles. 

ARROW UP – The secondary

Kyle Fuller was targeted twice in 78 snaps, and didn't allow a reception. Tracy Porter got a rare interception off Aaron Rodgers, and would have had two if not for a penalty negating the play. Bryce Callahan had an up-and-down game, but the corner had his moments and played well in coverage on the final play of the game. 

Brian Urlacher on Robert Quinn: 'I didn't love the signing'

Brian Urlacher on Robert Quinn: 'I didn't love the signing'

The best way for the Chicago Bears to take full advantage of the Khalil Mack era is to give him a competent pass-rushing running-mate who can consistently win the one-on-one opportunities he's certain to face.

Former first-round pick Leonard Floyd couldn't do it, and that's why he's no longer a Bear. It's also why Robert Quinn, who totaled 11.5 sacks for the Cowboys in 2019, was signed to a five-year, $70 million contract in free agency.

But was it money well-spent? According to Hall-of-Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, the answer is no.

“This isn’t a knock on the player, [but] I didn’t love the signing of Robert Quinn,” Urlacher said on ESPN 1000’s Waddle and Silvy show . “I liked him, he had a great season last year, really good football player. I just – you paid Khalil [Mack] all this money, he gets all this money. Akiem Hicks is a badass in the middle, making all this money. I understand you get rid of Floyd. But do you need to spend that much money on another guy up front?

“I would think you could find someone to put pressure from that side. Khalil is getting two guys no matter who is over there anyway, and with Akiem back, it’s going to be different. Once he’s healthy, we all saw how much he meant to their defense when he wasn’t in there.”

Urlacher's points are certainly valid, and a healthy Hicks should give Chicago's defense the extra juice it was lacking for most of the second half of last season. But there's also a flaw in Urlacher's reasoning. If having two 'badass' pass-rushers is great, then adding a third can result in something truly special.

Quinn has the potential to be the final piece that the Bears' defense needs to go from great to truly elite. He's registered five seasons with at least 8.5 sacks.

Did the Bears pay Quinn too much? Did they go all-in on a player who's battled injuries before last year's resurgence? Maybe. But it's a risk worth taking, especially considering how dominant this team can be if Mack and Quinn stay healthy in 2020.