Believe it or not, the Chicago Bears didn’t have the worst weekend at the NFL Draft.
Over at NFL.com, analyst Lance Zierlein looks at each team’s draft class, notes how needs were addressed, chimed in with is two cents on the situation, and ranked the teams from 1-32.
The bad news is that you’re not going to find the Bears at No. 1, which is unfortunate in a sense because the team really needed to have a strong draft after a disappointing free agency period. On the other hand, you won’t find Chicago checking in at 32nd. That’s a pleasant surprise as the front office continues to take heat for the draft-day deal to acquire Mitch Trubisky.
Then again, Zierlein ranks the Bears 22nd. Admittedly, it’s far from great. It’s not even in the mediocre range. But it’s not dead last. And that’s better than nothing. Here is what Zierlein had to say about GM Ryan Pace’s draft haul:
“I can’t find any reasonable defense for what GM Ryan Pace did in trading up a spot for a player (Mitchell Trubisky) who would have been there with the third pick regardless. However, I do like the additions of Adam Shaheen and Tarik Cohen. The fact that these players are relative no-names to Bears fans might not help Pace in the short term, but Shaheen has a rare combination of size and speed, while Cohen is reminiscent of Darren Sproles in his ability to hit big plays out of the backfield.”
The Bears banking on upside and potential, rather than safe picks via the draft, was undoubtedly the most surprising turn of last weekend. And while Trubisky’s future will tell us how well the draft class will be graded in the future, players such as Shaheen and Cohen are interesting prospects whose development could be key in Trubisky’s success. Shaheen and Cohen won’t step in and be starters from Week 1, but both have skills that an offense desperate for playmakers covets from its draft picks.
Shaheen’s size and speed have been lauded since the moment he was drafted because he was a Division II mismatch who could be just that at the NFL level, given he develops as planned. In a sense, Shaheen should feel fortunate to not have to step in and be The Man at tight end. Because of his size and athleticism, the Bears could be creative and pick their spots in which they’ll use their big tight end. And because their options at receiver aren’t all too impressive, a player like Shaheen could see an increase in targets if he can get on the field.
Cohen’s ability to make plays happen out of the backfield would be a welcome addition to an offense that ran the ball well with Jordan Howard for much of the year. However, the Bears’ backs – Howard included – left much to be desired as pass catchers. Cohen could fit an immediate need as a third-down back because of his knack for making big plays out of the backfield. He could also find a niche on special teams if he can learn it quickly.
It will be interesting to see how the Bears bring these players along. Clearly both need development at the professional level, but since neither is expected to step in and start right away, the Bears could be choosy with how they deploy their newest offensive assets. And perhaps by the time Trubisky is ready to take command of the huddle, two of his most valuable targets will be seasoned youngsters on the rise.