Have you noticed that the Chicago Bears have found themselves in the middle of a lot of draft action lately?
I believe some of some that is simply because of the number of deals they made last year – four separate trades on draft weekend in 2016 – but it could mean that General Manager Ryan Pace has some tricks up his sleeve.
We’ll have to wait and see, but …
- … In his recent mailbag at the Bears’ official website, Larry Mayer detailed how Pace made those four separate trades last year, one of which will impact the 2017 draft. If you recall, the Bears traded up to get Leonard Floyd in the first round, then down twice in the second round before snagging Cody Whitehair. They also made a deal with the Bills that allowed them to pick up a second fourth-round pick (No. 117 overall) this year.
- HOWEVER, don’t expect the Bears to move up in this year’s draft. Because as tempting as it would be to slide into a position to take Myles Garrett, the Bears are in a place where they would rather add more picks than move them in a trade to gain just two draft spots. After winning only nine games over the last two years, the Bears could use as many picks as possible.
- There is an aura of mystery that surrounds the Bears entering the 2017 NFL Draft. Chris Emma of CBS Chicago explores the possibilities that await them when they’re officially on the clock with the third overall selection. But because the Bears have so many needs and have been mentioned in various scenarios, Pace has left all observers wondering what he will do to help move the franchise in a new direction.
- Among the reasons you may have seen an up-tick in players linked to the Bears lately is that the team has needs everywhere on the roster. Yes, some of it is a smoke screen – which is a tradition unlike any other this time of year – but beyond that, there is truth to the rumors that the Bears could go in many possible directions. The needs along the defensive line and in the secondary have been front-and-center for a while, but those aren’t the only positions of need. The Bears also have a new quarterback and a group of pass catchers that features players who are relatively inexperienced (Dion Sims, Cameron Meredith), aiming to bounce back from an injury (Zach Miller, Markus Wheaton), or trying to rebound after a decline in production (Kendall Wright). Could you fault the Bears for drafting a game-changing pass catcher like O.J. Howard or Mike Williams after watching the offense sputter each of the last two years?
- One position the Bears are the least likely to target in the first round, however, is running back. They’ve struck gold with fifth-round Pro Bowler Jordan Howard, as well as fourth-rounder Jeremy Langford in 2015. The Bears seem like one of those organizations who feel comfortable waiting and picking a back later in the draft, rather than risk a high-round pick on one. Still, Ezekiel Elliott’s rookie season could put drafting feature backs in the first round back in style. With that said, the San Francisco 49ers have scheduled a visit with LSU’s Leonard Fournette, the draft’s top prospect at that position. The 49ers could have a genuine interest in Fournette, a running back with power, speed, and the ability to carry an offense as its focal point – especially since there isn’t much upside in the quarterback position. But San Francisco could also use this visit as an opportunity to build interest for a team that could trade up to ensure they land the draft’s top running back. Would the Jacksonville Jaguars be willing to move up two spots to block a team like the Carolina Panthers from leap-frogging them on the draft board? Because while there aren’t any quarterbacks worth moving up in the draft for, there are other positions that could pique the interest of aggressive teams.
- Fournette isn’t the only top-tier running back making waves though. Stanford’s Christian McCaffery reportedly has a first-round guarantee from a team drafting in the teens, which has led him to make an interesting decision, declining all private workouts. I feel as if draft guarantees should be taken with a grain of salt, especially in a draft like this one that is fluid and full of potentially moving parts. There’s a risk factor here if things change for the team that gave McCaffery the guarantee and leads them to not pick him. And how would that look for teams he refused to work out for? Just add McCaffery’s decision to the pile of risk and uncertainty that is stacking up prior to the draft.
- McCafferey isn’t the only Pac-12 prospect climbing up draft boards. Over at Pro Football Talk, Mike Florio notes that Cal quarterback Davis Webb has crashed the party and believes his rise is due to the media being wrong about him. Webb has long been believed to rank below the premier group of this quarterback class, which has long featured Clemson’s Deshaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, and Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer. Yet, buzz has been building for Webb for quite some time as he gained more exposure. What this means for his professional career remains to be seen, but his recent rise is worth noting for future draft classes.