Veteran Erik Kramer is the only guy on the roster that is capable of moving this offense. On a young rebuilding team like the Bears, Kramer will be heavily counted upon to groom second-year player Moses Moreno. His experience as a rookie should put Moreno in a position to push Kramer, especially if new coach Dick Jauron decides to go with a youth movement on offense. Steve Stenstrom had the opportunity to prove himself last season and didn't take full advantage of it.
Once a workhorse in Green Bay, Edgar Bennett was a disappointment in his first season in the Windy City. Curtis Enis started slow due to an extended holdout but showed flashes of greatness at times. A big question mark heading into next season for the Bears is the condition of Enis' torn ACL. Should Enis fully recover, he might be pushed by reserve James Allen for carries. Starting FB Ty Hallock was another off-season miscalculation by Bears personnel. Backup Robert Chancey looks like he could be a versatile player but needs to eliminate costly metal mistakes.
Rookie Alonzo Mayes was expected to step in and contribute but he never gained a full grasp of the system. Mayes caught just 21 passes and dropped nearly as many. Backup Ryan Wetnight didn't get many opportunities because of the team's loyalty to Mayes' development. Former first rounder John Allred, who appeared in just four games and failed to catch a pass, could be franchise's worst pick in decades. Without anyone capable on the roster, the Bears desperately need to draft an effective blocking tight end in order to bolster their ground game.
This position is probably the most difficult to figure out. Curtis Conway, once a 1,000-yard receiver, battled a hamstring injury all season and dropped way too many passes, ending the season with a disappointing 54 receptions and 733 yards. Conversely, Bobby Engram, once considered too slow and too small, had a breakout season by snaring 64 balls for 987 yards. Engram showed surprising big-play ability and is fearless over the middle. Chris Penn is a capable No. 3 receiver and former World Leaguer Marcus Robinson has tons of ability.
Starting LOT Andy Heck is a player on the decline and will be replaced by Carolina's Blake Brockermeyer...a huge upgrade. LOG Todd Perry has emerged as the top guy in this unit and is a solid all-around player. C Casey Wiegmann battled all season and held off rookie Olin Kreutz to keep his starting job. Kreutz is a good athlete with the perfect mean streak for an interior lineman. ROG Chris Villarrial was a player the Bears felt was really developing but he suffered through a disappointing third season. LOT James "Big Cat" Williams is steady but the team needs to find a young player as an eventual replacement.
Mike Wells was the ideal inside compliment to Jim Flanigan, who could have easily been named to the Pro Bowl. The late-season benching of LDE John Thierry (now with Cleveland) in favor of Bryan Robinson paid dividends against the run. RDE Shawn Lee is a big body that played well against the run early but his lack of conditioning was evident as the season wore on. Veteran Clyde Simmons was brought in to provide immediate pass rush help. The only real depth on the front four comes from free agent Jamal Duff of the Redksins.
MLB Barry Minter played at a fairly high level over the first half of the season but he seemed to lose a step as the season wore on. Like Minter, weak side linebacker Sean Harris started the season well only to taper off at the end. Strong side veteran Rico McDonald is a tough brawler but he doesn't offer much in terms of athleticism at this stage of his career. Nickel backer Andre Collins' made plays when he was in the game, which is reflected in his three interceptions. The only other player to receive any significant time was Lemanski Hall, who started at Harris' weak side position when McDonald was injured in the season's final week. Hall has demonstrated his great athletic ability on special teams but look for him to push McDonald next season. This is an area where the Bears would love to add at least one play-maker in the off-season and will have a deep crop of rookies to choose from in the draft.
Former first round pick RCB Walt Harris elevated his play in '98 and could garner Pro Bowl recognition next season if he continues to improve. LCB Tom Carter has been plagued by injuries but is a solid player when healthy. Carter, who missed the final 12 games due to a broken collarbone last season, is strictly a cover corner and isn't willing to come up and support the run. Rookie FS Tony Parrish was the team's most pleasant surprise last season, as he displayed the rare ability for a young player to position his teammates and quarterback the secondary. One player that really intrigues the Bears is backup corner Terry Cousin. Cousin started 12 games in Tom Carter's absence and while he was beat plenty, he showed a confident demeanor that all good corners must have. Marty Carter was lost to the Falcons and the Bears will need to replace his great run-support.
This is a real area of strength on a weak ball club. P Todd Sauerbrun was off to an incredible start before tearing an ACL in the third game. RS Glyn Milburn came over via the Packers in the preseason and put up Pro Bowl numbers,returning two kickoffs and one punt for scores. PK Jeff Jaeger connected on over 80 percent of his tries for the third consecutive year.