Will the Bears draft a defensive end in the first round to pair up with Julius Peppers?
Will the Bears draft a defensive end in the first round to pair up with Julius Peppers? Reuters

2011 was a tale of two seasons for the Bears.

Through the first 10 games, Chicago was one of the best teams in the NFC. They were 7-3, with hopes of obtaining a first round bye in the playoffs.

Then, disaster struck.

The Bears lost quarterback Jay Cutler for the season with a broken thumb. Soon after, running back Matt Forte was lost for the year with a sprained right knee. Chicago finished the season at 8-8, missing the playoffs by two games.

With Cutler's thumb healing and Forte back for another season, the Bears look to have an improved season in 2012. Chicago's injuries exposed a lot of the team's weaknesses, which they will look to address in the draft.

Here are the Bears biggest needs heading into this year's NFL Draft, as well as a few players they will be targeting.

Defensive End

The Bears have one of the best defensive ends in Julius Peppers, but could still use some more help on the line. Despite having Peppers, Chicago was tied with three other teams for 19th in the league with 33 sacks in 2011. The Bears are very intent on pairing up another great pass rusher with Peppers. They made a play for Mario Williams earlier in the offseason, before he signed with the Bills.

With the Bears looking to acquire another dominant defensive end, they will probably take one with the 19th overall pick. Qunton Coples from North Carolina might be the most likely player to land in Chicago. Chandler Jones from Syracuse has been shooting up draft boards as of late, and is also on Chicago's radar as a first round selection.

Offensive Line

Chicago's most glaring weakness a year ago may have been its offensive line. Bear quarterbacks were constantly under pressure in 2011, forcing them to be sacked 49 times. Chicago drafted offensive tackle Gabe Carimi with their first pick last year, but still need some depth on the line.

Stanford's Jonathan Martin could be a good fit for Chicago if they decide to take an offensive lineman in round one. It's more likely that they go with somebody like Mike Adams from Ohio State at number 50 overall.

Wide Receiver

The Bears didn't have an above average wide receiver in 2011. Jay Cutler's injury certainly played a role in the lack of production from the position, but so did a lack of talent. Johnny Knox led the team with just 727 yards. Roy Williams had another disappointing season, barely passing the 500 yard mark. Chicago hopes acquiring Brandon Marshall will help cure there woes at receiver, but his off the field issues always make him a question mark.

Michael Floyd from Notre Dame would be a likely pick if the Bears decide to take a receiver at 19. If they wait until round two, Mohamed Sanu from Rutgers is an option. Chicago could also snatch up Stanford tight end Coby Fleener in the second round, but he probably won't still be around at 50.