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H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com

H. Rick Bamman - hbamman@shawmedia.com

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Every Bears fan out there knows that to take another step forward this season, their beloved must get much better on offense, and beyond Mitch Trubisky and Anthony Miller taking another step up toward their still-distant ceilings, the team needs to upgrade the talent at placekicker, running back and tight end.

Defensively, the club looks to be in great shape right now. But just in case Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Buster Skrine aren’t completely the answers they were acquired to be, more talent at the safety and cornerback positions, respectively, could also be draft priorities.

However, while fans and media can focus on what it will take to be playing in South Florida the first week in February, Ryan Pace and his troops have to take the long view and focus on what the Bears will need next year and the year after as well.

As we've mentioned repeatedly on this site, Danny Trevathan and Cody Whitehair are the only starters who can leave before the 2020 season should they choose to via free agency.

But that should tell us the Bears could easily surprise us and take an inside linebacker or guard with the 87th pick, and anyone who doesn’t see it coming will have only themselves to blame.

That’s why Joel Iyiegbuniwe was drafted in the fourth round last year, even after Roquan Smith was taken at eight — to prepare for the possibility the Bears are unable to re-sign Trevathan.

But did we see anything to suggest Iyiegbuniwe is the answer?

All indications are the Bears intend to retain Whitehair’s services either at center or guard, with James Daniels possibly switching to his more natural center spot.

But there are no guarantees Whitehair is back, and as much as we all hope Kyle Long has a number of years left in the Bears lineup, ignoring his recent injury history would be a big mistake.

Conventional wisdom suggests the Bears first pick this year, currently slated at No. 87, will be a RB or TE, or if the players they like are gone, a safety or cornerback.

But if the Bears have a guard or inside linebacker rated higher on their board, not only will they take him, they should.

This article originally ran on profootballweekly.com.

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