3rd Round – 87th overall – Amani Hooker – Iowa – Safety: In many ways this is the perfect pick at this spot for Ryan Pace and the Bears. Hooker has the traits Pace loves in his picks. He killed it at the combine running a 4.47 40, Jumping 10.3 Broad Jump, had a 37″ vertical, ran a 6.81 3-cone, a 4.1 short shuttle and an 11.59 long shuttle scoring an elite level RAS (Relative Athletic Score).
He has the production too with a fantastic 2018 season accumulating 65 tackles 3.5 for loss, 4 picks and 7 pass break ups enroot to winning the defensive back of the year award in the Big ten.
He’s also a hybrid playing all over the field and in a linebacker role helping cover Running Backs and Tight Ends, as well as, supporting the run defense. Perfect for the Bears as they get a versatile player who can play coverage and physical run defense helping replace that element in the loss of Adrian Amos. He can also possibly compete for the starting Nickle Back role in essence replacing both Bryce Callahan as well as Amos. He’s a thickly built athlete who could make the Bears already impressive secondary possibly the most formidable and deepest in the league. That would be a pretty impressive thing considering they lost 2 of their starters via free agency.
In this GIF you see Hooker playing the slot and actually running the route better than the intended receiver for the pick 6.
Here, you see the value Hooker would bring to a Chuck Pagano scheme as a blitzer coming off the corner late and running by the secondary blocker for the sack.
On this play, you see Hooker diagnose the play before the ball is even snapped as he nears the line of scrimmage and gets to the ball carrier before he can get out of the end zone for the safety.
4th Round – 126th overall – Isaiah Johnson – Houston – CB: Traits, traits, traits. Johnson brings a ton of them with him. He is inconsistent however, but has enough flashes that show you he is capable of translating all that elite athleticism to the gridiron.
Getting back to those athletic traits, your eyes pop out of their sockets when you see the scores he had at the combine and how explosive and smooth of an athlete he was in his drills. His RAS of 9.99 is the second best in his class out of a possible best of 10.0 The only perfect 10.0 in this class came from a punter from Utah by the name of Mitch Wishnnowsky. He only got that score relative to his position group. As a Corner Johnson has a much higher athletic standard to live up to.
His combine was as impressive as anyone’s in this class. He ran a 4.4 flat 40 with a 4.08 short shuttle and a 6.81 3-cone. he also jumped 37″ on his vertical and an 11′ 1″ Broad jump showing his dynamic explosiveness. He led his team with 7 pass breakups and contributed 2 picks and 66 tackles 2 of them for loss as a senior.
Here, Johnson shows off his ability to drive downhill with speed and explosion and nearly gets the pick 6 as he gets the pass breakup.
In this GIF you see Johnson’s recovery ability in trail as he reaches out just as the ball arrives and slaps the ball out of the receivers hands for the PBU.
Finally, you see how valuable his size and length can be in pass coverage as he jumps up and reaches out that long arm of his and swats the ball out of the air before it can get to the receiver .
5th Round – 162nd overall – Ben Banogu – TCU – Edge: Khalil Mack and when healthy Leonard Floyd give the Bears one of the best Edge tandems in the NFL but Banogu is just too good to pass up at this spot.
His RAS (Relative Athletic Score) is elite at 9.71 and he wowed at the combine with his athletic scores and his workouts. At 6’3″ 250 you won’t find many people on the planet that can run a 4.62 40, have a 40″ vertical jump, an 11′ 2″ broad jump, put up 23 reps on the bench press, time a 7.02 3-cone and run a short shuttle at 4.27 but that’s exactly what Banogu did.
He performed too. In his Junior and senior season he was named first team All Conference in the Big-12 putting up 49 tackles 16.5 for a loss and 8.5 sacks in 17′ and 57 stops for 18 tackles for loss with 8.5 sacks again.
He is a bit of a project however, in spite of all that athletic potential which is why he lasts until the late 5th round. Fortunately, the Bears can afford to bring him along slowly after resigning Aaron Lynch as their primary backup with Isaiah Irving and Kylie Fitts waiting in the wings perhaps ready to take the next step.
Here you can see Banogu spin move inside and his relentlessness not giving up and coming in late to help get the sack after the QB initially slips out of it.
On this next play Banogu’s athleticism and speed are in full evidence as he leaps over fallen bodies and in one motion scoops up the fumbled ball and rambles into the end zone for the defensive touchdown.
Here you see his speed off the edge in the first part of this GIF but even more impressive is his awareness on the next part diagnosing a screen play and peeling off to run it down from behind catching the Running Back preventing a first down.
7th Round – 222nd overall – Anthony Johnson – Buffalo: With Jadeveon Clowney and cornerback Johnathan Joseph as his cousins I guess you can say that football is in Johnson’s blood. Johnson’s a big receiver who has some movement ability to go with that size. He’s a downfield receiver. Someone you can throw to to get big chunks. He’s good at tracking the ball over his shoulder and he can also high point it in traffic so whether you hit him in stride on a go route or throw it up to him on a 50/50 shot chances are better than good he’s going to come down with it.
At 6’2″ 209 he can give Mitch Trubisky another big reliable target to throw to. I feel his combine numbers underwhelmed enough to where he drops to the Bears at this spot. A couple months ago no way would I ever expect to see an accomplished talent like Johnson drop to the 7th round but I feel this is a real possibility due to the depth at Wide Receiver. Although Wide Receiver isn’t a huge need value is value and the Bears can’t pass up a two time first team All-Mac selection who had 1,356 receiving yards on 76 catches with a 17.8 yard average in 12 starts with 14 TD’s in 2017 and followed that up his senior season with 57 receptions for 1,011 yards (18.2 average) and 11 touchdowns.
In this Gif you can see his superb concentration catching a pass clean with a bunch of traffic around him.
Here, You can see a bit of separation and his ability to track the ball over his shoulder for a score.
In this final GIF you can see Johnson as an asset as a red zone target as he back shoulders a ball in the end-zone in traffic showing his ability to contort himself in the air and keeping his concentration while doing so.
7th Round – 238th overall – Darwin Thompson – Utah State: Thompson is my sleeper pick here. He is a smaller back at 5’8″ 200 lbs but is put together well with large thighs. He has no problems running inside and lowering a shoulder into a Defensive Backs chest.
He was thought by some to not be explosive but I beg to differ. When he gets in the open field he has another gear and that was verified at his pro day where he ran a 4.47 40. Also, put up 28 reps on the bench press which would have been second among RBs at the combine, leaped 39″ in the air on his vertical testing which would have been 3rd best at the combine, and had a 10’6″ Broad jump which would have tied him at 5th best overall. So he is the equal to all the top athletes in this draft class. At the same pro day it was reported he caught the ball impressively in his drills.
He was productive too. He scored 16 Touchdowns on only 176 touches. Thompson averaged 6.8 yards per carry gaining over 1,000 yards on the ground. He averaged over 15 yards per reception on 23 catches.
On this play you see Thompson’s patience in outside zone than his vision once he hits the hole and bursts through. When he see’s a defender closing in he cuts inside and than shows his power and balance gaining significant yardage after contact.
Here, Thompson shows his value as an outlet receiver and his ability to make defenders miss in the open field. Also, shows toughness finishing the play with a lowered shoulder to an unhappy Defensive Back.
Thompson shows How good of an inside runner he is by showing patience and than burst needing just a sliver of space to slither through and into the second level and beyond for a near touchdown and huge run.
In closing, the Bears would be getting a scheme and positional transcendent player in Hooker who can cover and defend the run. He can play the slot to which could have him filling the roles of both Adrian Amos and Bryce Callahan.
Their 4th rounder brings them a big fast and athletic corner who would need refinement but has future starter traits.
The 5th round choice would give the Bears an elite athlete to add to their Edge Defender mix.
Their Two 7th rounders bring them a big downfield receiver and a tough and explosive Running Back who can catch the ball out of the backfield with very low mileage from limited collegiate touches.
Another traits driven and exciting class for Ryan Pace.