To say the Chicago Bears went away from conventional wisdom with their NFL Draft picks would seem like an understatement.
General Manager Ryan Pace ventured from players deemed to be “safe picks” with high floors, instead opting to pick players he envisioned having high ceilings and room for improvement. And nothing captures that draft day ideology like NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein’s analysis of what he considered the Bears’ best and most questionable picks.
You can read Zierlein’s thoughts on the entire NFC North here.
On the Bears, Zierlein’s “best pick” is tight end Adam Shaheen, a player who could’ve been slotted into the “most questionable pick” category. Chosen in the second round with the 45th overall selection, Shaheen looks the part of a big play tight end. Zierlein writes: “He’s big, he’s fast and he’s tough after the catch. Who doesn’t want that? I understand that many fans haven’t heard of him, but when you watch him dominate his level of competition, it’s easy to get excited about the potential results if that size and athleticism translates to the next level.”
This is a high level of praise for a player who played his college career at Division II Ashland University in Ohio. Still, you don’t have to squint to see the potential … and why Zierlein considers Shaheen to be the Bears’ best pick.
On the other hand, and contrary to popular wisdom about the Bears’ selections and needs, Zierlein considers fourth round safety Eddie to be the more questionable selection.
To be clear, Zierlein doesn’t dislike the choice, as he notes Jackson’s ability to lend a helping hand in the return game – something we discussed earlier. However, one could argue that Jackson wasn’t even the best safety option on the board when the Bears traded up to select him. Zierlein brings up a common criticism with regards to Jackson’s playmaking ability, writing that his interceptions “often came on overthrows or bad reads by the quarterback, so I’m not sure he’s the instinctive, rangy safety that some might be expecting.”
Hmm. That’s not quite what you want to read about a player drafted as a safety to plug into a defense that came up with only eight interceptions in 2016. Of course, when the Bears opted to structure their draft as they did, they necessarily were going to have to take on some risk in order to try to improve the secondary in the middle rounds.