CSNChicago.com Bears Insider John "Moon" Mullin goes position by position as the Bears approach the 2015 Draft, taking a look at what the Bears have, what they might need and what draft day could have in store.
Bears pre-draft situation
Matt Forte is entering the final year of his contract and has established himself as one of the great running backs in the history of a franchise with a number of elite runners to its credit. Since entering the league as a second-round pick in 2008, Forte ranks No. 1 in yards from scrimmage and set an NFL record for receptions by a running back (102) last season while still netting 1,038 yards rushing yards.
Forte gave and continues to give elite one-size-fits-all consistency at the position. He is a unique back with a record of success in myriad offensive systems: 1,000-yard rushing seasons under four different coordinators. He also has been the definition of durable, starting 16 games in five of his seven seasons.
The Bears used a fourth-round pick last season on Ka’Deem Carey out of Arizona but he was a virtual non-factor: 36 total carries through 14 games, then not seeing the field in the final two. He worked throughout the year on improving pass protection, which he did, but coaches were reluctant to trust his grasp of the playbook. His high point of 14 carries for 72 yards came vs. Green Bay but he was unable to establish himself as an adequate alternative or relief for Forte.
The Bears picked up Jacquizz Rodgers, a smallish (5-6) speed-back, originally a fifth-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2011. He was Pac-12 offensive player of the year in 2008, a distinction also won by Carey (2013).
Bears draft priority: Moderate
Forte’s outlook at age 29 (turning 30 in December) with some mileage is a question, and Carey had too few chances as a rookie to show whether he is or isn’t an NFL running back.
This all matters a great deal given coach John Fox’s stated intention to rely on the run game, something Marc Trestman paid lip service to but then was about 65:35 pass:run. Taking Fox at his word, the Bears may not have their long-term situation set at this position.
When Fox was at Carolina, the Panthers went heavily on defense with top picks but also placed enough of a premium on the running-back position to invest No. 1’s at the position in 2006 (DeAngelo Williams) and 2008 (Jonathan Stewart), and those after using at No. 2 there in 2005 (Eric Shelton). Perhaps more relevant to the Bears’ current situation, Fox’s Panthers used two No. 4 picks on running backs in 2009 (Mike Goodson, Tony Fiammetta).
The “value” running back position has been a debated topic (not as far as Forte is concerned, however) and the new Fox-Ryan Pace regime has some solid run offenses in its collective background.
[BEARS DRAFT PREVIEW: Looking for answers beyond Jay Cutler]
Keep an eye on ...
Javorious Allen, USC: Likely gone by rd. 4 but a 221-pound producer in the Forte mold.
Dominique Brown, Louisville: Power back (234 pounds) in the mold of Michael Bush, alternative to Forte.
Jeremy Langford, Michigan State: Shorter (5-9) than the norm but had two productive seasons replacing Le’Veon Bell.