The NFL draft is a magical time that can either fuel playoff runs with a strong crop or completely bury a team bust for bust. With not a single playoff appearance since 2010 but a greatly improved roster, the Chicago Bears sit in a dubious spot where one wasted high pick may be enough to prolong the drought. So in order to prepare for the ensuing madness and the potential of the next great Chicago Bear, let’s lay out the Bears’ greatest needs and a few options to cover them.
- Edge Rush/Defensive End
Best Options: Bradley Chubb (NC State), Marcus Davenport (UTSA), Harold Landry (Boston College)
Pass rushing has quickly become a necessity of a successful defense in years past thanks to the unparalleled dominance of Von Miller and Calais Campbell and the Bears couldn’t be thinner at the position. Pernell McPhee, Willie Young, Lamarr Houston all split, leaving only a raw Leonard Floyd coming off an unfavorable knee injury and a precariously unproven Aaron Lynch to cover the pass rush.
Opportunely, this year’s draft looks to be a rather deep at the edge rush department. Chubb carries many similarities to Myles Garrett, unstoppable in pass rush and run stuff, Davenport has physical gifts on the same plane as Jadeveon Clowney, and Landry has the same power and quick-twitch athleticism as Vic Beasley. All apart of this new wave of freakishly athletic pass rushers, the Bears should be keen to pounce on one of them. Not to mention deeper in the draft rests the risky yet talented couple of LSU’s Arden Key and USC’s Rasheem Green.
If Chubb falls to the eighth, he would be the steal of the draft. In the event the Buffalo Bills trade up, 4 to 5 quarterbacks realistically could be selected in the top six, including other high profile prospects like Quenton Nelson and Saquon Barkley that could be enough for Chubb to fall. Trading down to mid to late-first round would be enough to land them Davenport or Landry. However, as deep as this draft is in the pass rush class, this need could very well be addressed in the second round with Key or Green.
2. Left guard
Best Options: Guards: Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame), James Daniels (Iowa), Isaiah Wynn (Georgia)
With weaknesses inside the line outside of the consistency of Kyle Long and Cody Whitehair, the Bears should aim for a left guard early in the draft. Especially with Long coming off multiple major surgeries, Pace cannot pass up Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson if so he remains on the board at the eighth, especially if Chubb is already off the board.
Nelson brings exceptional size and extraordinary power, dominating defensive lineman with both pure technique and brute strength. He possesses all the tools to become a perennial All-Pro guard and while eighth looks a little high for a guard, very little else available at this pick outweighs the necessity of an interior lineman. Nelson would solve essentially every problem at the line (besides tackle) and would flip the offensive line from painfully mediocre to notably strong.
Unless Bradley Chubb plummets or the prospect of Minkah Fitzpatrick becomes too enticing for Pace (more on that later), Nelson would be a key pickup in this draft. The offense primed themselves for a big season after a flurrious free agency and the hopeful notion of a breakout season from Trubisky, only set to collapse on itself if the offensive line struggles or can’t stay healthy again. Nelson would solidify the rocky line and certifies the offense’s legitimacy.
3. Defensive back
Best Options: Denzel Ward (Ohio State), Josh Jackson (Iowa), Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama), Derwin James (FSU)
A comeback season out of Kyle Fuller relaxes the need a little bit but without much behind the freshly resigned Prince Amukamara, holes at the corner spot stand. Safety looks a little more stable, having the All-Pro Adrian Amos and sophomore Eddie Jackson to hold down the fort, but very little dwells behind them. Fortuitously, this draft appears to be a broad class of defensive backs, with a couple of potential gems mixed in.
Fitzpatrick headlines the defensive backs, a freakish athlete combined with doglike intensity. His dangerous combination of speed and power enables him to blanket the field in pass coverage and bring the hammer like a linebacker. Equally versatile is James who also brings alpha dog leadership, however, he lacks the elite awareness in coverage and the attack mode in run defense.
For the pure corners, Ward looks to be the finest option with shutdown man coverage with gilt-edged footwork and burst speed. His twiggy frame does hold him back in run defense and against brutally physical receivers, but his supreme athleticism facilitates tight coverage and ball hawk capabilities. Iowa’s Jackson comes a little more raw and inexperienced but boasts incredible ball skills with the length and instincts to notch 27 passes defended in his final season.
In the case that both Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson have already been selected by the eighth, there will be a strong chance Fitzpatrick will be up for grabs. With expectations of a quarterback-heavy top five and throwing Saquon Barkley and the aforementioned Nelson in there, the defensive studs will more than likely fall right into the Bears lap. If not Chubb, then Fitzpatrick will be an explosive addition to the defense.
4. Wide Receiver
Best Options:D.J Moore (Maryland), Simmie Cobbs Jr. (Indiana), Christian Kirk, (Texas A&M)
The signing of Allen Robinson and the speedy Taylor Gabriel allows the Bears to fret a little less about the receiver position but the little depth and Robinson’s torn ACL still stands. The question of whether or not he can make a full recovery still lingers and letting Cameron Meredith walk doesn’t leave a lot deeper in the lineup. However, a first or second rounder doesn’t need to be wasted on a receiver, specifically because this draft runs deep with receivers.
The bigger names like Calvin Ridley and Courtland Sutton will be well off the board by the time the Bears address more pressing matters. Therefore, Moore, Cobbs and hopefully Kirk will find a Bears jersey in the mid rounds. The best case would Kirk, a prototypical slot receiver with skillful footwork and steady hands who would fit perfectly in the middle.
Since Robinson and the eminently forgotten Kevin White (stop laughing, it could happen) cover the outside, a hole in the slot still remains. Projected to go in either second or third round, Kirk can’t take precedence over a greater need like edge or defensive back and probably will not fall to the fourth or fifth round where the Bears should target a receiver.
Come third round and guard and edge already handled with nothing exciting left for corner or offensive lineman, he may not be a bad pickup. But with urgencies elsewhere, Moore and Cobbs may fit in the plan far finer. Cobbs has wonderful size and an uncanny ability to win 50-50 balls while Moore brings great YAC potential. With both projected to fall, either one will be available.