With the draft just 3 days away I attempt to emulate being in charge of the Bears draft room by putting myself in the head of Bears General Manager Ryan Pace. In doing so, I have assembled a small list of players per round who I feel have a very good chance of being there when the Bears pick who fit into the Bears culture. I also look at need, physical ability, football IQ and past draft trends to determine who the Bears just may be looking at to improve their team. I grouped the 3rd round guys by biggest position of need and two of each because there’ll be more options sooner rather than later and numbered them by who I think is the best player to the least. Of course, the Bears will have to wait an extra day to participate so Friday will begin the process of the next phase of roster building for this organization unless the Bears trade up. Given Pace’s history this is totally possible especially now that it looks like the Bears will be getting compensatory picks next season. However, I won’t get into the predictive game and will stick to the Bears current positional draft format.
3rd. Round 87th overall
1.) RB: Rodney Anderson – Oklahoma
2.) RB: Miles Sanders – Penn State
10.) CB: Sean Bunting – Central Michigan
8.) CB: Justin Layne – Michigan State
4.) S: Amani Hooker – Iowa
11.) S: Amadi Ugochukwu – Oregon
9.) TE: Kahale Warring – San Diego State
12.) TE: Alize Mack – Notre Dame
7.) Edge: Anthony Nelson -Iowa
5.) Edge: Christian Miller – Alabama
6.) WR: Andy Isabella – UMASS
3.) WR: Terry McLaurin – Ohio State
Kind of stuck to the positions of need here with the Bears first pick. Some might say Edge and WR aren’t a need but I beg to differ. I’m concerned over the depth at those spots. I do love the potential of players like Isaiah Irving and Kylie Fitts but until its realized its not. Aaron Lynch is a good vet backup coming off a strong 2018 campaign but injuries are a concern with him and he did miss the most important game of the year versus the Eagles in the wild card round of the post season. Wide Receivers are always welcome. Can’t have too many options to throw to. When you have impact players on the board late in the draft why would you ignore that based on perceived need. This is the NFL. The players you have are always one play away from making a non need a need because of injury.
To summarize the players on the board, Rodney Anderson is a 3-down back who falls this far only because of injury concerns. If the Bears doctors clear him and he’s here expect them to pull the trigger. He’s probably the best pass catcher of this Running Back class. Three down Bell cow if you want him to be too. Great combo of power and athleticism. Run him inside or out in zone or on a simple goal-line dive play and you will get the results you want.
Not sure Sanders is here as some experts (most notably ex Bears Scouting Director during the Jerry Angelo/ Lovie Smith administration Greg Gabriel) have him as their RB1. I feel he does fall. Think Darrell Henderson is the best fit but he’s my RB2 and I feel the secret is out on him as he and Josh Jacobs are neck and neck as the best of the bunch and will never make it to the 87th overall pick.
Hooker and Ugochukwu are both excellent cover Safeties who can line up in the slot and would be a best of both worlds draft scenario as they can replace both Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos. Both may not be as physical as Amos and Dix is the clear starter alongside Eddie Jackson, but Both are solid tacklers with Hooker slightly better at run defense at the moment. Also, both can possibly win the nickle back spot until Dix leaves via Free Agency as I feel he’ll be a one and done. They can contribute to special teams as well.
Bunting and Layne both grade higher than 87th for me but may fall as some will because there are going to be runs at Edge and defensive Linemen as well. There’s always the desparate need at Quarterback having teams pick them at higher than what their value probably should be. So a good player will fall here and the choice just may be one of these two long physical press corners with explosive athleticism.
Warring and Mack are opposite types of Tight ends. Warring is definitely an inline Y Tight End and Mack would be the U TE in Matt Nagy’s offense. Both can play H-back as well. Now, Warring has the athleticism to run the Flex routes but really hasn’t in college lining up mostly in the slot, off-set next to the Tackle or in the backfield as an H-back. Mack just doesn’t have the sand to take on bigger stronger players as an inline blocker but is WR like in his route running and receiving abilities downfield.
As for the Edge spot Miller and Nelson are two different players but both equally intriuging. Miller is a tightly wound explosive athlete with insane length. He didn’t do any of the running drills due to a hamstring injury he sustained playing against Oklahoma in the college playoff game. He did jump scoring a 38.5″ vertical and had a broad jump over 10′ showing his explosive athleticism. Although he only started 4 games he make big plays contributing 8.5 sacks, 36 tackles 11.5 of them for loss and a pass breakup. He still needs development but can absolutely contribute immediately as a nickle down pass rusher until he learns all the nuances of playing the 3-4 Edge spot.
Nelson is a very good athlete too. Especially for a 6’7″ 271 pound man. His combine numbers wowed. He ran a 4.84 40, a blazing 6.95 3-cone and 4.23 S.S. He also scores a 35.5″ vert. and the exact same BJ Miller had. Also put up 18 reps on his BP. Not bad for a guy with nearly 35″ arms. Nelson is a guy with a more rounded game than Miller even though Miller may have more upside. Nelson can play all up and down the line as well as the Edge with the exception of a space eating Nose Tackle.
At Wide Receiver I picked two explosive and just straight up fast players that would add a fear factor to any defensse the Bears play of getting beat for big plays. With an already loaded roster of weapons this would open up so many more options both over the top and underneath for all of their weapons. Isabella and McLauren can straight up fly.
McLaurin is a 4.36 40 guy and Isabella 4.31. Both are blurs who can win down-field on verticals and underneath with RAC. McLaurin is bigger 6′ 215 and uses physicality reminisent of the Bears Anthony Miller. Isabella is smaller and only slightly more quick twitch at 5’9″ and 188 lb. and the numbers back it with Isabella running a 6.95 3-cone to McLaurin’s 7.01 and both had a 4.15 SS. Which is why I like McLaurin better. He’s also a better route runner too. Isabella is the more accomplished college player but I think with McLaurin it’s one of these he can be a better pro than college player. Ohio State has a much deeper roster and the ball gets spread around a lot more. Both can get up with McLaurin at a 37.5 vert. and Isabella at 36.5.
Again, Wide Receiver is far from a need but at this point in the draft the focus should be on getting immediate impact and the offense could use the help to evolve. Running Back may be the biggest need but its also a spot you can get value in even outside of the draft in college free agency. Edge is more of a luxury but Quarterbacking is the top want of any team in the league and has the biggest team impact. What better way to offset that than harassing the quarterback with big, strong, athletic angry men chasing them all over the backfield. Tight End is the modern era’s biggest matchup advantage in the passing game as its hard to match size with athleticism and speed and they can impact the game as blockers too. Secondary speaks for itself but its also a huge need now that the Bears have lost two starters and arguably the best at their respected positions in the league at Strong Safety and Nickle Back.
4th Round – 126th overall
1.) RB: Justice Hill – OSU
2.) CB: Isaiah Johnson – Houston
3.) WR: Jalen Hurd – Baylor
4.) S: Marvell Tell – USC
5.) TE: Jace Sternberger – Texas A&M
6.) WR: Miles Boykin – Notre Dame
If Hill were just a little bigger he’d be my RB1 as he’s probably the most exciting player for me to watch in this draft. Think he’d fit well in Nagy’s scheme. Johnson is a big long corner with elite speed and athleticism who has the talent to eventually be a CB1 in the NFL. Hurd is a huge WR who was a former FBS Running Back and is best described as a higher ceiling Cordarrell Patterson. Tell is another size/speed combo Safety with ball skills who could play Nickle Back. Sternberger is a nuanced route runner with reliable sticky hands who is willing to block but needs more strength to play in-line. Boykin is a big Wideout with the athletic profile of one but also the quickness of a much smaller player.
5th Round – 167th overall:
1.) Edge: Jachai Polite – Florida
2.) RB: Alex Barnes – Kansas State
3.) WR: Darius Slayton – Auburn
4.) TE: Trevon Wesco – West Virginia
5.) CB: Michael Jackson – Miami (Fl.)
6.) Edge: Maxx Crosby – Eastern Michigan
Polite is all over the place as to where the experts see him falling to. After being a consensus 1rst rounder before draft season began he hurt his stock with poor athletic scores and bad interviews to where some draftniks even predicted he’d go undrafted. I think if he is here you run to the podium to make him your 5th rounder. Barnes grades higher on my personal board but by all indications he falls to the 5th and would be a great value pick here and fits the RB profile the Bears are looking for. Slayton is a size/speed athletic freak who is more of a projection here as his production is not special but is more of a product of how he was used and the system he was in. Wesco is basically a 6th offensive lineman who can run slot and seam routes with soft sure hands and long arms to high point the ball as a good possession option. Jackson is a big press corner who is dripping with athleticism and speed and projects as a boundary corner. He is not as shifty so slot is not where he’ll earn his paycheck. Crosby is a big kid with great movement skills at his size and length with great production on the small school level, a type of player Pace has a history of drafting with success in the mid-rounds.
7th Round – 222nd overall:
1.) WR: Olabisi Johnson – Colorado State
2.) RB: James Williams – Washington
3.) S: Sequan Hampton – Rutgers
4.) TE: Tommy Sweeny – Boston College
5.) WR: Cody Thompson – Toledo
6.) RB: Kerrith Whyte – Florida Atlantic
Johnson isn’t a burner but for a bigger receiver he is cat quick after scoring an impressive 6.88 3-cone. Can jump out of the gym and is a skilled route runner with high football character and IQ. Williams in my opinion is the most under-rated back and possibly overall player among the draft media. Hampton is big, fast and explosive with good ball skills who hasn’t played up to his size versus the run. He has had issues with his shoulders throughout his career which may explain the lack of physicality. Sweeny is a combo tight end with good route running ability who needs to work on his core strength to compete as a Y TE but can play H-back and is willing to mix it up with the big boys so he should be coachable as an inline guy. Thompson is another one of these big possession receivers this class is loaded with who is not a burner but is a very explosive athlete with good fundamentals and glue hands. Whyte is a nice sized back who can do a bit of everything who was a touchdown machine in college and has a lot of tread on his tires due to low touches.
7th Round – 238th Overall:
1.) RB: Darwin Thompson – Utah State
2.) S: Darius West – Kentucky
3.) LB: Drue Traquill – Notre Dame
4.) TE: Dax Raymond – Utah State
5.) WR: Scott Miller – Bowling Green State
6.) K: Matt Gay – Utah
Thompson is thought of as a priority free agent but he has enough talent to get drafted in my opinion. He has some development ahead of him as far as his understanding of blocking schemes but the ability is there. Like most of the backs in this draft he’s a quick twitched smaller back who plays tough and physical but profiles as a rotational back. He also is a pretty reliable pass catcher but was used mostly as an outlet guy and needs to learn an NFL route tree. West is more of a physical safety who has good ball skills but covers mostly in a zone concept. He’s an alpha leader with high football IQ and character. Traquill is an off ball linebacker with athleticism who can cover in nickle situations against Backs, Tight Ends and bigger slot Wide Receivers. Raymond is a guy who profiles as a flex with H-back ability and would fit in nicely in the U slot in Nagy’s scheme. Miller is a fast and twitchy small slot receiver who would add a big play element for opposing offenses to game plan for.
Initially, I was going to omit any kicker as I’m against wasting a pick on one as a general rule, but let’s face it, Kicker is probably the Bears biggest glaring need and some would say unquestionably so. There has been some noise about the Bears trading for disgruntled 49er Kicker Robbie Gould who supposedly demanded a trade today and would likely have the Bears as his number one destination. However, the Bears don’t have the ammunition to give up picks for a kicker and pay him market value while also paying recently cut playoff goat Cody Parkey in the process. So I don’t see it happening. However, Gay fits the profile of what Pace described in what he likes in a Kicker with a huge powerful leg and is the only draftable Kicker in my opinion. He may just be worthy of their last pick in the draft.
Summarization: In closing, this board may have far too many offensive skill players on their list but offense is the side of the ball that has the biggest needs and needs to have the highest level of improvement. Especially from their Quarterback.
Think the Bears have the protection taken care of so that leaves weapons to help Mitch Trubisky reach his max potential. Trubisky reaching his max potential gives the offense the best chance in reaching its max potential and thus the team itself reaches their max potential giving them the best chance at a championship or 10 in this window.
Ok, 10 may be dreaming the dream but you need to do all you can to take advantage of a roster filled with this many stars particularly on the defensive side of the ball. I believe it when Pace says its about drafting the best available athletes and these are the best athletes I feel have the best chance at being contributors now and in the near future.