It’s been quite an interesting last few months for the Chicago Bears organization and its fan base. Bears fans could be forgiven for thinking that the main media players have largely ignored the Bears in recent years. But for a team and organization that in the last four years has not won more than 6 games in a season over that span, not to mention that the team has rarely been fun to watch during that time, it’s easy to see why the Bears have not been high on anyone’s radar outside of its own fanbase.
However, it appears things are about to change. Former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy comes in as head coach, replacing John Fox. Out the door went offensive coordinator Dowall Loggains, replaced by former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio returns to lead what should be a strong defensive unit in 2018.
The Bears made some impressive moves in free agency, bringing in WRs Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, TE Trey Burton (of Philly Special fame), QB Chase Daniel, LB/DE Aaron Lynch and K Cody Parkey. They were also able to retain CB Prince Amukamara, P Pat O’Donnell and LB Sam Acho. Then of course there was locking down former 1st round pick and standout CB last season, Kyle Fuller.
With these moves the Bears have made, the hype and buzz surrounding this franchise is refreshing to see. Now with less than a week until the 2018 NFL draft and prospect visits in the bag, many are wondering what they’ll do when they are on the clock with the 8th pick in the 1st round, and I’m here to look at just what the Bears will do on Day 1.
What Can Happen?
The quick and easy answer here is that anything can happen. Well, not quite. It’s widely expected that when the Bears are on the clock, 4 QBs could well be off the board in Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield. If one of those guys are still there when the Bears pick they are not taking that guy. They already have their guy in Mitchell Trubisky. But if the Bears somehow were to draft a QB in round one, I’ll eat a large bowl of brussel sprouts and trust me on this, I hate those things.
Should we rule out the Bears trading up? Not entirely. General manager Ryan Pace enters this year ready for his fourth draft at the helm of the Bears’ front office. In the last two drafts he traded up from number eleven to number nine to leapfrog the New York Giants and select Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd (2016). Then just last year the aforementioned trade up to number two from number three to select Trubisky (2017).
But I believe the Bears are in an enviable position here. With four QBs likely being chosen before they are on the clock as well as RB Saquon Barkley, it means that should they stay at number 8 there is a good chance that ‘’their guy’’ is there waiting for them. Over the past few months we’ve seen the likes of Quenton Nelson, Denzel Ward, Tremaine Edmunds and Roquan Smith mocked to the Bears and I expect at least two of those guys to be available at number 8.
Speaking of what can happen, let’s get crazy here just for a moment. Should Saqoun Barkley start to fall would they consider…..trading Jordan Howard to move up to get him? Highly unlikely given head coach Matt Nagy’s response lately to whether Jordan Howard will be the Bears’ featured back this year.
So yeah, Barkley to the Bears isn’t happening.
What Should Happen?
I do like the idea of the Bears staying at number 8. The talent that will be available feels better than previous years with a variety of elite prospects at different positions. Quenton Nelson at G, Denzel Ward and Minkah Fitzpatrick at CB/S, Tremaine Edmunds and Roquan Smith at LB, and Harold Landry at EDGE are just some of the players with top 10 buzz surrounding them. In Nelson’s case some believe he could be selected in the top 5.
The loss of Josh Sitton at OG this offseason leaves a big hole there, and Nelson can slot into that spot and contribute straight away, much like Zack Martin did for the Dallas Cowboys when he was drafted in 2014. The Bears could also use an elite level CB prospect given they face Aaron Rodgers, Matthew Stafford and now Kirk Cousins in the NFC North. EDGE is also a need after the loss of Willie Young and Pernell McPhee this offseason, despite the acquisition of Aaron Lynch. Having someone who can create pressure on the QB opposite Leonard Floyd would certainly be ideal. Having a quick, rangy ILB next to Danny Trevathan would also help.
So the Bears staying at number 8 means they can fill a need and the options available to them should be plentiful. It’s a nice problem to have and could set them up to select best player available in round two.
What Will Happen?
Nobody knows with any level of certainty, but it’s still fun to predict what will happen. Now there are two ways to approach this, we can predict based off of what we want or by perhaps being more realistic, or a mixture of both. Much of course will depend on what happens ahead of them, particularly from pick four onwards. What if Bradley Chubb should fall ala Leonard Williams in the 2015 draft? The Bears could certainly use an elite pass rusher and if they feel he can fit straight into Vic Fangio’s defense then a big move would have to happen to get him.
Staying at number 8 makes sense but if someone like the Buffalo Bills approaches the Bears to trade into their spot, particularly if Josh Allen or Baker Mayfield were to fall, then a trade down is enticing. In Mayfield’s case I don’t see him falling that far, but Allen certainly could given his accuracy issues at Wyoming against inferior opposition. Two other teams who could potentially trade up into the Bears’ spot to snatch a falling QB are Miami (11) and Arizona (15).
So to the prediction; I’ll go with the Bears trading back here. They don’t currently have a third round pick in this draft and with Pace’s mindset of having as many draft picks as he can get his hands on, if he can get a third round pick or maybe two with a suitable partner while still picking in the early teens, I think he takes it and the Bears move down. This would also recoup a third round pick they lost last year in trading up to draft Trubisky. The Bears do also hold two fourth round picks this year, so to get a third rounder then followed by two fourth rounders would be beneficial given some of the players they have drafted in those rounds over the last 2 years. Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson in the fourth round last year stand out in particular.
The Chicago Bears are on the rise, optimism is high and the right decisions appear to be being made, finally. Hopefully for Bears fans the right decisions are made in this draft. They won’t please everyone of course but draft well, draft smart and I think we see positive results moving forward.
With the draft a mere days away, it’s not too late to pick up your copy of the ITP Draft Guide for 2018 by visiting www.itpdraftguide.com