NFL Draft 2011: Will Chester Taylor Find Competition in Bears Backfield?

Joseph HigginsContributor IIApril 12, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Running back Chester Taylor #29 of the Chicago Bears reacts after scoring on a one-yard touchdown run in the second quarter against the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

In last year's offseason, the Chicago Bears made two great moves. They signed pro bowl defensive end Julius Peppers and running back Chester Taylor

What was the point of bringing in Taylor when the Bears already had a set running back in Matt Forte? To provide insurance and to have a better third down back. It was a significant upgrade from what the other Adrian Peterson gave them. 

Significant upgrade is what Jerry Angelo and every other Bears fan first thought when they got word that Taylor would be playing in Chicago. Did he perform to his best ability? Was the investment on a excellent back up running back worth it?

Taylor produced his worst running average of his career with 2.4 yards averaged per carry. Games that "highlight" his time in Chicago could be the like the ones against Philly (six carries for negative three yards) or Minnesota (11 carries for five yards.)

Of course, he had some good games where he averaged more than four carries for the game, but as a backup he wasn't a factor on many plays. One big run, and his numbers skyrocket. 

Now in the midst of next season's offseason, the Bears have to make a decision on whether or not they should resign third running back, and special teams weapon, Garrett Wolfe. He's undersized for a running back, but quick and agile.

Even if the Bears were to resign Wolfe, he still wouldn't be lining up behind Cutler for any running plays, leaving Taylor as the primary backup.

Can the Bears do better than Taylor though? They stamped a four year 12.5 million dollar contract on the Michigan native and he hasn't proved yet that he was worth the investment.

Yes it's only been one season with the running back, but compared to what he's done in the past with the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, they shouldn't have to wait for him to improve.

It would have been much different if Taylor had been a rookie or a three year player, but he's 31 years old and has been in the NFL for nine seasons now.

The Bears aren't going to cut Taylor, and they shouldn't. It would be money lost and there's always a chance that the guy can improve. What they need to do is bring in some competition by drafting a running back in the draft.

They shouldn't make it their top priority—obviously offensive tackle, defensive tackle, wide receiver, cornerback etc. are much higher needs—but a late fourth or fifth round pick of a running back wouldn't be a bad move.

Chicago needs to show Taylor that he isn't guaranteed a spot just because of his track record. Without a doubt, Taylor will still be the backup running back coming into this season, but he may have to fight for it.

Players like Derrick Locke (Kentucky) or Mario Fannin (Auburn) could be backs that the Bears could take a chance on.

What it all boils down to is that the Bears sought out Chester Taylor and they got him—now it's time for him to show what he's worth on the field. Because if not, he might be replaced.