Three days, seven rounds, and 253 picks later, the NFL Draft has come to an end.
The Chicago Bears made five of those picks, selecting a quarterback, tight end, defensive back, running back, and offensive lineman in the final phase of this offseason’s talent acquisition project. General manager Ryan Pace didn’t fill every hole on his team’s roster, but that was never going to happen – even if he had one pick in each round of the draft.
And while it’s too early to give the Bears (or any team, for that matter) a firm grade, we can now start processing what happened in Philadelphia over the last three days.
ROUND 1, PICK 2: QUARTERBACK MITCHELL TRUBISKY, NORTH CAROLINA
Clearly, the Bears weren’t going to let the $18 million in guarantees on Mike Glennon’s contract prevent them from drafting a quarterback. And Pace wasn’t going to go three drafts in a row without addressing the most important position on the field. Thus, he made a bold move to trade up in the draft and select Mitch Trubisky with the second overall pick.
Despite draft pundits struggling to come to a consensus top quarterback in the draft, Trubisky turned out to be the first one off the board. He was Pro Football Focus’ top quarterback, and a player who excelled with a strong arm, quick release, and highly accurate throws. There are concerns about the adjustments he needs to make at the next level – especially since there isn’t much tape to study on him -but credit the Bears for taking a stance and making an attempt at getting the position right.
Whether or not the deal works out, only time will tell.
ROUND 2, PICK 45: TIGHT END ADAM SHAHEEN, ASHLAND UNIVERSITY (OHIO)
Not only did the Bears swap first-round picks with the 49ers, they also sent two picks in the 2017 draft to San Francisco, as well as a third selection in 2018. In an attempt to recoup some of those picks, Chicago moved out of the 36th pick by making a deal with the Arizona Cardinals in which the teams flip-flopped positions in the second round.
The Bears drafted Shaheen with that pick.
A deep sleeper because of where he played collegiately, Shaheen has pro size (6-foot-6, 278 pounds) and high-end athleticism. And that’s probably why, as you might expect, he dominated his level of competition. Concerns with this pick are plenty and valid though. Did the Bears reach on a player in a position that was considered deep? How much risk are the Bears taking on a player who played at the Division II level? Will he be up to speed in time to be a significant contributor in Week 1? All fair questions to ask.
Shaheen looks the part of a big play tight end, something the Bears lacked in 2016, but potential and upside can take you only so far.
ROUND 4, PICK 112: SAFETY EDDIE JACKSON, ALABAMA
Jackson could have come out after a 2015 season in which he played 15 games and made six interceptions, but decided to return for a senior season at Alabama. It was a costly decision for Jackson, though, who broke his leg and played in just eight games in 2016. In a draft that was considered to be deep in secondary players, the Bears waited until the fourth round to address the position. It’s a particularly risky move, especially when considering Chicago faces Aaron Rodgers twice a year.
When healthy, Jackson showed high-end speed and top-notch ball skills. He also spent some time as a punt returner, a position of need for a Bears team that lacked dynamic playmakers in all facets of the game – special teams included.
ROUND 4, PICK 119: RUNNING BACK TARIK COHEN, NORTH CAROLINA A&T
The Bears didn’t need to draft a running back, but Pace still picked one for the third consecutive year. Cohen joins 2015 fourth-rounder Jeremy Langford and 2016 fifth-rounder Jordan Howard in growing backfield. Chicago’s roster also features special teams standout Ka’Deem Carey and free agent signee Benny Cunningham.
But Cohen brings excellent speed, polished skills as a pass catcher out of the backfield, and big play potential – something that the current backs in the rotation seem to be lacking. The knocks on Cohen are strength and size, and rightfully so: 5-foot-6, 179 pounds. But those deficiencies will be afterthoughts if Cohen can continue to be elusive.
ROUND 5, PICK 147: OFFENSIVE LINEMAN JORDAN MORGAN, KUTZTOWN UNIVERSITY (PENNSYLVANIA)
The Bears used their final pick on an intriguing player in Morgan. At 6-foot-3, 309 pounds, Morgan has the ideal size for a professional offensive lineman despite playing football at the Division II level. Morgan is also an experienced and accomplished lineman who was a four-year starter at left tackle and was awarded with his conference’s athlete of the year award in 2016. Morgan’s development could impact several spots on the line and a couple of players, including 2015 third-round pick Hroniss Grasu, who – as of this post – lacks the versatility others on the line possess.
Just when you thought the Bears were going to zig, Pace and the front office zagged.
The Bears will come under a ton of scrutiny in the coming days, weeks, months, and potentially even years when discussing this draft. After a 3-13 season that exposed various holes throughout the roster, Chicago came away with just five picks. Further, the front office took several high-risk gambles on players with upside who played at small conference schools. Pace hitched his wagon to a quarterback with 13 career starts, three players who didn’t play at college football’s highest level, and a cornerback-turned-safety coming off an injury shortened season.
And yet, the Bears addressed needs with each of their pick. Chicago had long avoided addressing the quarterback spot with a high pick until Pace went all-in on Trubisky. The team also favored athletic players with high upside on the offensive side of the ball in Shaheen and Cohen. The one defensive player drafted was a known ballhawk at the safety position and starred as a junior. And the late-round offensive line project is more polished than a typical Division II athlete with a pro ready body.
The 2017 NFL Draft was far from perfect. Pace didn’t draft any cornerbacks, linebackers, or defensive linemen – three positions on defense in which the team could have used a starting caliber player, or at minimum, depth. The Bears also did not draft a wide receiver, leaving Glennon (or Trubisky) left to throw to a group of pass catchers that did not have one player earn an above average grade, according to Pro Football Focus.
In the end, this draft will be graded on the quarterback. Which means it will be up to Pace to supply the offensive side of the ball with more talent in the draft and free agency classes to come.