Ohio State vs. Indiana

Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde scores on a rushing touchdown against Indiana. (Kyle Robertson / MCT / November 23, 2013)

As the NFL draft nears — it takes place May 8-10 — we're taking an 11-day, position-by-position look at what's out there and what the Bears need.

Bears status

Matt Forte is coming off his best season, a Pro Bowl-worthy surge that saw him total 1,933 yards from scrimmage with 12 touchdowns. Forte was a workhorse, averaging 22.7 touches per game and 4.6 yards per carry while contributing a career-high 74 catches. But the March release of Michael Bush left the Bears somewhat thin at the position. Currently under contract: Michael Ford, an undrafted rookie last season; fullback Tony Fiammetta; and newly signed fourth-year back Shaun Draughn, who was with the Ravens last year after two previous seasons with the Chiefs.

Level of draft need: High MODERATE Low

Forte rushed for at least 100 yards in five games last season. But to help extend his career, the Bears likely will look for ways to lighten his load strategically when possible. Finding a late-Day 3 value pick at the position might make sense on the checklist, even with the signing of Draughn and additional optimism Ford can take a step forward in his second season. Bears coach Marc Trestman has been clear that the No. 1 quality he's seeking in a backup running back is an ability and a "want to" to become a reliable pass protector.

Top prospect

Carlos Hyde, Ohio State

6-0, 230 pounds

Worth a look: Hyde could slip into the second round but still is projected widely to be the top back drafted. He does a little bit of everything, a powerful downhill runner with good hands and an ability to be a wall in pass protection. Hyde's final season with the Buckeyes featured first-team All-Big Ten production. He averaged 7.3 yards per rush and 138.3 yards rushing per game, scoring 18 total touchdowns.

Stay away: Hyde lacks elite speed and will have to find an offense that fits his rugged running style. He also was suspended for three games last season, a misconduct punishment from coach Urban Meyer after Hyde was accused of assaulting a female at a bar. (The case was dropped.)

Intriguing options

Andre Williams, Boston College

5-11, 230 pounds

Worth a look: Williams, a Heisman Trophy finalist, was the most productive back in the nation last fall, totaling 2,177 yards rushing, the fifth-best total in FBS history. That included a 42-carry, 339-yard, two-touchdown explosion against North Carolina State. His combination of vision, speed and instincts is intriguing. And if he slips into Day 3 of the draft, his value would spike significantly there.

Stay away: He's not a pass-catcher and his pass protection needs polish. There also are concerns Williams isn't elusive enough to create running room for himself consistently.

Tyler Gaffney, Stanford

5-11, 220 pounds

Worth a look: After veering away from football in 2012 to play minor league baseball, Gaffney returned in 2013 and amassed 1,709 yards rushing with 21 touchdowns. He's a rugged inside runner who could be a short-yardage option and a good complement for Forte in the Bears offense. He also displays toughness and intelligence in pass protection.

Stay away: Gaffney is not a speed back and has little burst when changing direction.

Charles Sims, West Virginia