The 2018 NFL Draft is approaching fast and there are a number of different directions in which the Bears can go to help improve their team in Year 1 of the Matt Nagy regime.
The following is a comprehensive — yet, admittedly incomplete — list of potential targets that might be available for the Bears when they are on the clock.
It’s time to put on my armchair general manager’s hat and present to you my rudimentary draft board.
A few notes:
- First and foremost, I am not a scout who pores over game film, but I do an awful lot of reading and analyzing.
- If a player is left off the list, it does not necessarily mean I don’t particularly like him, rather, I might not feel he’s a good fit for the Bears’ scheme or he might not fall in the right spot in the draft for the Bears to select him.
- These are not predictions or projections. I can’t see into Ryan Pace’s head, or the Bears’ war room in general. These are just options that I find intriguing.
- While the players are broken down into projected rounds, they are not otherwise in a particular order.
Bradley Chubb, Edge, North Carolina State — File this one under “probably not going to happen.” Chubb likely will be gone in the Top 5, but we’ve seen some crazy things happen in drafts before. If teams start to trade up to select quarterbacks, and if Saquon Barkley and Quenton Nelson are selected in the Top 7, could Pace trade up to nab a top pass rusher? He did so before with Leonard Floyd. And he also aggressively traded up one slot for Mitch Trubisky.
Quenton Nelson, Guard, Notre Dame — Nelson, like Chubb, is another guy who could be gone before the Bears pick, but he’d be a mauler on the inside of the Bears’ offensive line for years to come.
Roquan Smith, Linebacker, Georgia — The Bears parted ways with Pernell McPhee, Jerrell Freeman and Christian Jones. Danny Trevathan hasn’t played a full season in his two years in Chicago. Leonard Floyd is ready to dominate in his third season, but has been banged up. The Bears could use a versatile playmaker to solidify the position.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, Safety, Alabama — Fitz is a bona fide playmaker and all-around solid football player. To pair him up with former teammate Eddie Jackson would really solidify that secondary.
Derwin James, Safety, Florida State — Another solid playmaker should the Bears choose to address the secondary.
Tremaine Edmunds, Linebacker, Virginia Tech — He’s got a tall and lean frame and reminds me of Floyd. Would be a nice addition to the pass rush and help drop back in coverage if need be.
Denzel Ward, Cornerback, Ohio State — The Bears retained their starting corners from a year ago in Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara, but depth at the position is vital.
Mike McGlinchey, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame — We start to get into territory where the Bears could trade out of their pick to acquire more selections later and the Bears could address the offensive line with a solid player like McGlinchey.
Connor Williams, Offensive Tackle, Texas — I like McGlinchey better, but Williams would be a welcome addition on the end of the offensive line, too.
Calvin Ridley, Wide Receiver, Alabama — I’m leery — like most Bears fans — about first-round wide receivers given the Kevin White fiasco, but if the Bears traded back and Ridley were available, I’d have to consider him.
D.J. Moore, Wide Receiver, Maryland — I like Moore a lot — and his name brings back memories from the former Bears cornerback — but he’ll likely be a late first- or early second-round pick, and I’m not sure the Bears would trade back far enough in the first round.
Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA — An explosive player, I’d really like the Bears to address the pass rush as I see it as the second most important aspect of a winning football team (behind quarterback play).
Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College — Another edge rusher with good speed, he could help shore up the pass rush.
Leighton Vander Esch, Linebacker, Boise State — Many Bears fans are on high alert about Boise State linebackers given the Shea McClellin debacle, but he could solidify the inside ‘backer position.
Lorenzo Carter, Edge, Georgia — Want to pair up Carter with former Bulldogs teammate Floyd to shore up the pass rush? Sounds intriguing to me.
Justin Reid, Safety, Stanford — Reid could very well be gone by the Bears’ second-round pick as he’s a fringe first-rounder. But if he slid this far, he could help the secondary.
Isaiah Wynn, Guard, Georgia — If the Bears were unable to select Nelson in the first round, Wynn could come in and stabilize the interior of that offensive line, which lost Josh Sitton this offseason.
Donte Jackson, Cornerback, LSU — I love physical corners and this guy has it.
Brian O’Neil, Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh — A converted tight end, O’Neil clearly has versatility and would help seal the edge.
Tre’Quan Smith, Wide Receiver, Central Florida — Plenty of upside for Smith, whose separation skills and ability to pick up yards after the catch would be attractive in Nagy’s offense.
Christian Kirk, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M — A little on the shorter side, but he’s got good hands and would be an ideal playmaking threat in the Bears’ new offense.
Isaiah Oliver, Cornerback, Colorado — He’s got good height for the position and can make plays on the ball.
Ronnie Harrison, Safety, Alabama — Why not bring in another Alabama safety? The best college football program in the country produces studs and he would already have a leg up on the competition.
Dante Pettis, Wide Receiver, Washington — It’s becoming a common theme, but if Nagy is looking for quick athletes with elusiveness who can make plays after the catch, Pettis is another option.
Sam Hubbard, Edge, Ohio State — Not as explosive a player as some other edge rushers, but he’s got a nose for the football and plays hard.
Mike Hughes, Cornerback, Central Florida — Might not last to the Bears’ pick, but is “quick-twitch” and a willing tackler.
Martinas Rankin, Offensive Tackle, Mississippi State — He moves well for an offensive tackle and could help protect the Bears’ new passing attack.
Kolton Miller, Offensive Tackle, UCLA — Miller moves well and is yet another option to secure the outside of the offensive line.
(The Bears currently do not have a third-round choice.)
Anthony Averett, Cornerback, Alabama — Another player with Alabama pedigree who is fundamentally sound.
Geron Christian, Offensive Tackle, Louisville — You can teach technique and fundamentals, but you can’t teach size — and this guy’s got it.
Carlton Davis, Cornerback, Auburn — Another corner who plays with physicality.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, Linebacker, Oklahoma — Kind of a tweener, but great instincts and pursuit make him a terrific pass rusher.
Cedrick Wilson, Wide Receiver, Boise State — Not a lot of big-time college football experience, but he’s got the athletic ability teams desire.
Nyheim Hines, Running Back, North Carolina State — He ran a 4.38 40 — fastest among the running backs at the combine — and he’s dangerous in the open field. The Bears already have one like him in Tarik Cohen, but he’s fun to watch.
Deontay Burnett, Wide Receiver, USC — Throw a ball up in his general direction and he’s likely to come down with it. Quarterbacks love that attribute.
Tegray Scales, Linebacker, Indiana — He’s not overly fast, but he puts himself in the right position to make plays and finish tackles.
Austin Corbett, Offensive Tackle, Nevada — This guy is tough and plays with a mean streak and can help an offense instill an attitude on an opponent.
Jamarco Jones, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State — He’s athletically gifted and can help against teams that bring a lot of outside pressure.
RJ McIntosh, Defensive Tackle, Miami — Penetration and gap control are two of his better attributes. The Bears are solid with Eddie Goldman, and I’m not sure if McIntosh could slide outside, but he could be a rotational player.
Frank Ragnow, Center, Arkansas — Mostly a center, he’s also played guard. The Bears have the option to play Cody Whitehair at either center or guard, so flexibility is always key.
Anthony Miller, Wide Receiver, Memphis — For a Bears offense that is expected to move players around, Miller could fit the bill as he’s a good playmaker after the catch.
Orlando Brown, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma — More of a mauler than a finesse player. He can be beat by a speed rusher but defenders will look to avoid engaging with him.
Quenton Meeks, Cornerback, Stanford — Another option for the Bears to add depth to the cornerback position. I’m drawn to corners that aren’t afraid to get dirty and put their heads in the pile, and he’ll stick guys.
B.J. Hill, Defensive Tackle, North Carolina State — Not much of a pass rusher, but his body mass and strength will keep offensive linemen off the linebackers.
Christian Sam, Linebacker, Arizona State — A physical player who’s always around the action. He reminds me a little of former Bear Jerrell Freeman, who was constantly around the football and leading in tackles.
Dorance Armstrong Jr., Edge, Kansas — He’s considered a good pass rusher, but struggles to disengage.
Marcus Allen, Safety, Penn State — Has a little bit of Mike Brown in him. Can read and react and secure the deep zone. Is also physical and will come up and pop someone.
Duke Ejiofor, Edge, Wake Forest — He’s kind of an all-around player who can stop the run, rush the passer, and drop back into coverage. Not spectacular, but solid.
(The Bears currently have two fourth-round picks.)
J’Mon Moore, Wide Receiver, Missouri — Moore’s size-speed combination creates mismatches and is intriguing for offensive-minded coaches.
Quenton Meeks, Cornerback, Stanford — Could be gone by Round 4, but he has great size and is a willing run defender.
Hercules Mata’afa, Edge, Washington State — You’ve gotta have a guy named Hercules on your roster. High energy, consistent motor, plays like a firecracker.
Shaquem Griffin, Linebacker, Central Florida — Intriguing player. Doesn’t have a left hand — yep, that’s right. He ran a 4.38 40 time at the combine — as fast as a skill position player. Has great instincts and a constant “I can do it” mentality.
Brandon Parker, Offensive Tackle, North Carolina A&T — Went to the same college as Tarik Cohen, where he dominated the lesser competition. He has the size and strength to play at the next level.
M.J. Stewart, Cornerback, North Carolina — I love me some physical corners! Doesn’t make a ton of plays on the ball in the passing game, but is solid.
Joe Noteboom, Offensive Tackle, TCU — He has to shore up his technique and consistency, but if he had that, he wouldn’t last until Round 4 anyway.
Chukwuma Okorafor, Offensive Tackle, Western Michigan — A physical beast with the strength to pave the road for the run game.
Da’Shawn Hand, Defensive Tackle, Alabama — Alabama pedigree, highly recruited out of high school, but a bit of a boom-or-bust player. When he’s on, he’s great. When he’s not, he can be just a guy.
Justin Watson, Wide Receiver, Pennsylvania — Could be gone before the Bears pick, but he has an impressive tool set. Played against lower competition, but the attributes are all there.
Josey Jewell, Linebacker, Iowa — A solid character guy who is one of those “right place, right time” type of guys. He won’t wow anybody with athleticism but knows how to play the game.
Jester Weah, Wide Receiver, Pittsburgh — Pretty good size for a receiver and always creates an attractive — and dependable — target for the quarterback.
Chad Thomas, Edge, Miami — Another option to shore up the pass rush, but he’ll need some coaching and push from his teammates.
Cole Reyes, Safety, North Dakota — This guy seems like a “Ryan Pace guy,” one who dominated at a lower level of competition and will fit well in a good program and scheme.
Alex Cappa, Guard, Humboldt State — Speaking of Ryan Pace guys, Cappa is a D-II standout who plays nasty and punishes players … but can that translate to better competition?
Will Clapp, Guard, LSU — Smart and dependable football player and leader, but maybe not the most athletically gifted guy.
Sean Welsh, Center, Iowa — Another player in the mold of Cody Whitehair, who played all along the offensive line in college but is probably best suited for interior play.
Tarvarus McFadden, Cornerback, Florida State — Another physical cornerback with good size.
Keke Coutee, Wide Receiver, Texas Tech — Among the fastest receivers at the combine with a solid vertical jump. He’s a high-upside player who can turn a small play into a breakout one.
Nathan Shepherd, Defensive Tackle, Fort Hays State — A raw player with great potential. Will need a solid positional coach and defensive scheme — hey, the Bears have that! — to turn him into something consistently productive.
Ryan Nall, Running Back, Oregon State — Assuming the Bears don’t trade Jordan Howard, we get into the territory of “niche” running backs this late in the draft. Guys with good hands who can make Nagy salivate.
Quin Blanding, Safety, Virginia — Not a gamebreaker by any means, but a solid, dependable four-year starter.
Nick Nelson, Cornerback, Wisconsin — Not a very fast player, but plays with aggression and instinct.
Taron Johnson, Cornerback, Weber State — Low level of competition, but a quick-twitch player who can cover well and help in run support.
Terrell Edmunds, Safety, Virginia Tech — Much more an “in the box” safety than a coverage guy.
Fred Warner, Linebacker, BYU — Not going to overwhelm a blocker with brute strength, but finds ways to get into position to make plays.
Danny Johnson, Cornerback, Southern — He’s got a nose for the football and makes plays in coverage, but he didn’t have a ton of competition.
Akrum Wadley, Running Back, Iowa — Another niche running back who provides value as a pass-catcher in open space but is not an all-around back.
Tyler Conklin, Tight End, Central Michigan — The Bears drafted Adam Shaheen last year and signed versatile Trey Burton. Conklin is a good inline blocker should they decide to address that aspect of the position.
Timon Parris, Offensive Tackle, Stony Brook — Good size and strength to dominate the line, but will have to translate that to the NFL level.
Derrick Nnadi, Defensive Tackle, Florida State — A tenacious football player with an ability to disrupt the flow of an offense.
Jeff Holland, Edge, Auburn — More of a run defender but he doesn’t have great size.
Kemoko Turay, Edge, Rutgers — Impressive size and motor, but doesn’t play with great strength or power.
Mason Cole, Offensive Tackle, Michigan — He’s durable and dependable and plays with toughness, but he’s not that athletic.
John Franklin-Myers, Defensive Tackle, Stephen F. Austin — Has desirable size and dominated at his level, but is still very raw.
Chase Edmonds, Running Back, Fordham — Another shifty receiver out of the backfield.
Jordan Whitehead, Safety, Pittsburgh — Natural athlete who played some offense and is a hard hitter on defense.
Damon Webb, Safety, Ohio State — More of a fit for zone coverage than man-to-man, but has good ball skills.
Skai Moore, Linebacker, South Carolina — Good coverage linebacker who can be used in multiple roles.
Joe Ostman, Edge, Central Michigan — More of a one-trick pony as a pass rusher who needs to develop better coverage skills.
Levi Wallace, Cornerback, Alabama — A walk-on at Alabama and definitely a “football guy.” Has good football instincts.
Du’Vonta Lampkin, Defensive Tackle, Oklahoma — Brute force to collapse the pocket and be disruptive in the backfield.
Taylor Hearn, Guard, Clemson — Big size, strong anchor in the run game, holds up bull rushers at the line.
Tony Adams, Guard, North Carolina State — Packs a punch and plays with leverage but could lose battles with longer-armed defenders.
Nick DeLuca, Linebacker, North Dakota State — A jack of all trades, can blitz and drop in coverage as well as pursue sideline to sideline.
Allen Lazard, Wide Receiver, Iowa State — Superb height and size with the hands to haul in most passes. Not very fast.
Darren Carrington II, Wide Receiver, Utah — Has some off-field issues to atone for, but can make plays.
Chris Herndon, Tight End, Miami — Bears don’t really need another playmaker at tight end, but it’d be hard not to consider a guy like Herndon, who — like new Bear Trey Burton — is versatile enough to move around the field.
Durham Smythe, Tight End, Notre Dame — A solid blocking tight end, should the Bears decide to add one.
Folorunso Fatukasi, Defensive Tackle, Connecticut — Fills the gaps and frees up linebackers to make plays.
Dylan Cantrell, Wide Receiver, Texas Tech — Good size and solid vertical jump. Knows how to use his body to his advantage against defenders.
Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Wide Receiver, South Florida — Ran a blazing, 4.37 40 at the combine. He’s raw, but could develop into a solid field stretcher.
J.T. Barrett, Quarterback, Ohio State — The Bears are invested in Trubisky, but it doesn’t hurt to take chances on a rookie. I don’t believe in the “draft a quarterback every year” philosophy, and I’m not sure if Barrett will transition into an NFL quarterback, but he’s got game, he’s a winner and is an all-around football player.
Mike Joseph, Cornerback, Dubuque — Interesting prospect from Division III Dubuque. He’s only worth a flyer for his athleticism.
Scott Quessenberry, Center, UCLA — Another interior lineman for the Bears to consider if they haven’t addressed the position(s) yet.
Brad Bozeman, Center, Alabama — A massive force from a tough Alabama program.
Andrew Trumbetti, Edge, Notre Dame — He’s not going to be a stud defender, but with his toughness and tenacity, he could be a special teams force and solid backup ‘backer.
Cody O’Connell, Guard, Washington — Ridiculous size (6-9, 363 pounds) who will have to work on staying lower than the defender, but can win most battles.
Jaryd Jones-Smith, Offensive Tackle, Pittsburgh — Much more a short-yardage run blocker than anything else. Not sure if coaching can develop him into something more.
Lowell Lotulelei, Defensive Tackle, Utah — Can fill up space be disruptive. Somewhat questionable football desire.
John Atkins, Defensive Tackle, Georgia — Can clog the middle of the opposing offensive line and defend the run.
Bilal Nichols, Defensive Tackle, Delaware — Definitely a flyer with lower competition but shows some nice pass rush ability.
Curtis Cothran, Defensive Tackle, Penn State — Fairly good athleticism and has shown steady improvement.
Wyatt Teller, Guard, Virginia Tech — Converted defensive lineman who plays hard and has been a reliable starter.
Kenny Young, Linebacker, UCLA — A bit of a “try hard” guy who needs to rely on constant and consistent effort to stick around.
Leon Jacobs, Linebacker, Wisconsin — Good read-and-react defender who doesn’t have good instincts but keeps his motor going in pursuit.
Joshua Kalu, Safety, Nebraska — A former cornerback, he’s a better cover safety than run supporter. Needs some coaching at the position.