Ryan Pace did it again. On the second night of the draft, just as in the first round, Pace identified a player he liked, aggressively traded up and snagged him. This time, it was Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins.
Let me be clear: there is nothing not to love about Jenkins. The guy plays mean and nasty and wants to bury in the dirt whomever he is blocking each and every play. There is a clip out there of one of his highlights where he blocks his defender for 20-30 lateral yards and finishes him out of bounds. When I think of this kind of nasty, I envision players like Olin Kreutz and Kyle Long. Attitude matters.
Jenkins had a first-round grade on many draft boards but slipped into the top of Round 2. With a clear need at the offensive tackle position, I applaud Pace for getting aggressive and trading up again. In total, the Bears gave up their second-round pick (No. 52), third-round pick (No. 83) and one of their four sixth-round picks (No. 204) for Jenkins and a fifth-round pick (No. 151).
Bears targeting quality of quantity
The Negative Nancies out there will gripe about Pace giving up multiple picks — again — to select one player.
“We have so many other needs to fill! Why is Pace giving up such valuable draft capital for one player?”
The answer is because in both trades this year, the one for Justin Fields on Thursday and for Jenkins on Friday, the Bears landed great value. The Bears got two first-round talents at lower draft picks than they probably should have gone. And both players could — and likely should — be immediate contributors.
Assuming they pan out, which is no guarantee but it’s the reason you trade up to draft them, Fields and Jenkins should be long-time contributors for the Bears.
“I definitely feel like both of us will grow old on this team,” Jenkins told the media after getting selected. “I have a very strong feeling about this. I definitely want to be here for a long while.”
I admire Pace’s convictions. When you find a great value at a position of need, you go get that player. Has Pace misfired on trade-ups before? Sure. Mitch Trubisky and Anthony Miller are two such cases where it doesn’t seem to have panned out.
But Pace also landed Eddie Jackson, David Montgomery and Darnell Mooney in recent trade-ups, and those look awfully good right about now.
Day 3 awaits with some more needs to fill
The Bears have four draft picks remaining on Day 3 of the NFL Draft on Saturday, barring another trade. To me, they still have needs to fill at wide receiver and cornerback.
I don’t have as strong of a feeling about the cornerback depth remaining as I do about the receivers. But I feel comfortable with veteran free agent Desmond Trufant and the overall strength of the defense.
At receiver, I truly believe there is a wealth of talent available. All prospects come with some sort of negative traits. But the Bears don’t need a standout prospect. They need a piece that fits the puzzle.
Right now, Matt Nagy could use a field stretcher with speed to get past the defenders and make plays with the ball in his hands. There are several of those prospects available.
Jenkins’ college teammate, Tylan Wallace from Oklahoma State, and South Carolina’s Shi Smith are a pair of good all-around talents who can make something happen after the catch. South Dakota State’s Cade Johnson and Houston’s Marquez Stevenson are a couple of speed options. Stevenson can return kicks as well. And then there are a couple of USC receivers in Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown who have positive upside.
It is precisely because of this depth that I had no intention of the Bears drafting a receiver anywhere in the first couple rounds. If they truly want to, they’ll land a player who can contribute on Day 3 of the draft.
Let’s see what Pace and Company have in store for us.