Mark Potash: Answering the Bears’ biggest draft questions

The Bears are wrapping up their preparations for the draft.

Meanwhile, Sun-Times Bears expert Mark Potash is answering the most important questions the team will face Thursday in the first round, and beyond.

Here’s a look at whom the Bears need, want and should pick — and when they’ll draft a quarterback:

(To read colleague Adam L. Jahns’ answers, click here. For Patrick Finley’s, click here.)

Connecticut's Obi Melifonwu practices for the Senior Bowl. (AP)

The Bears’ biggest areas of need entering the draft:

Safety, tight end, wide receiver, cornerback, offensive tackle, quarterback.

The Bears solved this need in free agency:

None. They addressed needs at quarterback, cornerback, wide receiver, safety and tight end, but they did not sign one player who is certain to fill a hole. Assuming the pass rush is improved, cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper have the best chance to make the biggest impact.

Would you draft a quarterback at No. 3?

If I thought he was destined to become an elite quarterback, absolutely. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson seems to have the entire package of physical skills and leadership qualities, but without being able to do in-depth personal evaluations, it’s hard to tell if he indeed has the “it” factor necessary to be worthy of the No. 3 overall pick.

Solomon Thomas or Jonathan Allen?

Both are superior athletes, but Allen’s intangibles put him over the top — he has a chance to be a player who makes those around him better. That he turned down a chance to be a first-round pick last year, returned to school and had an even better year in 2016 speaks volumes about his mental approach.

Malik Hooker or Jamal Adams?

If you could merge their strengths — Hooker in ball production, Adams against the run — he’d be worth the No. 3 overall pick. Hooker could develop into a state-of-the-art safety, and he’s coming off offseason surgery for a torn labrum, which makes him even riskier for a Bears team that hasn’t had much luck with injuries under coach John Fox and GM Ryan Pace. Adams, with proven leadership qualities, run-stopping ability and versatility, seems like the safer pick. Unlikely either is worth passing on Thomas or Allen at No. 3.

Predict the Browns, 49ers picks:

Is that even possible? The Browns have a history of picking the wrong guy. The 49ers are on their fourth coach in four seasons and just hired a TV analyst to be their general manager. The Browns will take Myles Garrett. The 49ers could pull a surprise and take a player few if any expected. They could fall in love with a quarterback and take Watson.

In an ideal world, the Bears will …

Draft a player at No. 3 who will become the greatest player of all time at his position. Their more realistic best-case scenario is to trade down and get two or three players they covet. That could put them in play for tight end O.J. Watson, wide receivers John Ross or Corey Davis, quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes or Watson and safeties Obi Melifonwu and Jabrill Peppers, among others.

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