After a deceptively productive 2017 season in which many fans and members of the Bears organization would say the team took a step in the right direction, the focus has switched wholly to the off-season and preparing for the next step forward. This process will be highlighted by the NFL Draft on April 26-8. Though popular reports say that the Bears will be targeting Alabama WR Calvin Ridley with the eighth overall pick to fill in a position the team desperately needs, taking him that early would be an overvaluation of talent and a mistake for the Bears organization.

Watching the Bears' receivers try to catch the football last season was, in a word, Sisyphean. But just because this was the most glaring issue to the casual fan, it does not mean it is the only spot that the Bears need to fill.

The offensive line, charged with the task of watching Mitchell Trubisky's back, was injury-ridden and inconsistent. The defense, which finished in the top-10 for most major defensive statistics including points against per game, yards allowed per game and passing yards allowed per game, still has spots to be filled in the backfield and in the front seven. This year's draft is deep in just about every position, and essentially any team within the top 10 picks will be able to get a difference-maker going forward.

The Bears are one of these teams, and with the amount of talent expected to be left on the board, picking a strech player like Ridley would be a tragedy.

How it could shake out

The only guarantee for the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft is that it is going to be wild. There is a surplus of Quarterback-needy teams, and depending on how the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes ends up, there will probably be a trade or two within the top 10.

Barring the Bears trading away their pick, most draft predictions have a combination of three to four quarterbacks, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, taken in the top eight. Having drafted Trubisky last season, it is safe to say the team is not looking for another QB.

That leaves four to five position players to be taken off the board before the Bears get on the clock, again barring a trade.

One of these players will be Saquon Barkley, hailed by many as the best runningback prospect in years. That leaves three to four other prospects to go before the Bears are on the clock. Prospects that may still be there include NC Stade EDGE Bradley Chubb, Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, Notre Dame G Quenton Nelson, Virginia Tech LB Tremaine Edmunds and Georgia Linebacker Roquan Smith, just to name a few. If any of the above players are still available when the Bears select eighth overall, they should be the pick.

The possible players

The Bears are in desperate need of a pass rusher opposite Leonard Floyd, and Chubb would be a blessing. Chubb is considered one of the top overall prospects and most drafts have him going off the board in the top five, so it is unlikely that the 6'4", 269 pounder will fall to eighth, but would be a perfect fit after the Bears waived Pernell McPhee and Willie Young.

Of the players that the Bears have a realistic shot of landing, I think Nelson is the guy. The primary concern for GM Ryan Pace and new Head Coach Matt Nagy right now should be protecting Trubisky, the quarterback of the future and chief investment in the rebuild effort. Nelson, the 6'5" 329 lb guard out of Notre Dame, will be able to do just that for years to come, as well as bolster the team's already explosive rushing attack. Kyle Long and Cody Whitehair seem to be solid pieces on the O line for years to come, but injuries and lack of depth hurt in the long run. Nelson is the perfect fit for the moment, and would be a perfect building block for Nagy's offense.

Minkah Fitzpatrick is an interesting option.

Though the Bears seem to have found a safety in last year's fourth round pick out of Alabama, Eddie Jackson, Fitzpatrick is a similar safety, also coming out of the football factory that is Alabama, but has the potential to play all over the field. He can step up as a linebacker to stop the run, as well as line up as a corner in coverage. His coverage skills could use improvement, but with time and experience he could be a fill-in for the loss of Kyle Fuller.

The two linebackers mentioned, Edmunds and Smith, both have the potential to be very special at the next level. Linebacker play in Chicago has been in flux ever since Hall of Famer Brian Urlacher dominated the defensive backfield alongside Pro-Bowler Lance Briggs.

Bringing in one of these two backers that could be the leader of the defense for years to come would not just be a smart football move, but a smart Chicago football move. Edmunds, standing at 6'5", 253 lbs, has the unheard of physical tools that could make him a menace on the other side of the ball. Smith, smaller and more of a prototypical linebacker, is capable of making plays all over the field. Both players have big-game experience, Smith being a part of the University of Georgia that lost to Alabama in the 2018 NCAA National Championship, and Edmunds coming from the undefeated, "National Champion" Central Florida Golden Knights. These are two players who could have an immediate impact on the Bears' young, rising defense.

But what about receivers?

All of this begs the question: what about the situation at wide receiver? It is still a problem that needs addressing, and none of the above scenarios involve anyone of that position. That can, and should, be answered in the alter rounds of the draft and free agency. Ridley is considered to be the best prospect in this draft, but being 24 years old and coming from a system like Alabama raises some red flags. There are also other prospects in this draft who have as much or more potential than Ridley. For example, 6'4" Courtland Sutton out of SMU looks to have the size and speed to be a go-to target for Trubisky. It is unlikely that he will slip to the second round, so Washintgon speedster Dante Pettis or Oklahoma State standout James Washington could be good pickups early in the second.

The current free agent class also includes names like Miami's Jarvis Landry (who recently requested a trade, originally reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN), Jacksonville's Allen Robinson, Los Angeles' Sammy Watkins and Terrelle Pryor coming off a forgettable season in Washington. The Bears should use some of their ample cap space to bring in a receiver like this, who can anchor the passing offense and help establish some consistency with Trubisky, as well as bring in a receiver in the draft to try and bolster roster depth.

Most importantly: Pace and the Bears must be careful to not be victims of the moment. Popular voices may say Ridley, and a wideout for the young quarterback certainly would put butts in the seats, but for the long-term success of the team, the Bears must continue to build. Running game and defense, as the NFL has repeatedly shown, wins championships.