The Chicago Bears have made commitments to quarterbacks Mike Glennon (for the short term) and Mitch Trubisky (for the long haul), but it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have their eyes on a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Sunday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers is an important one as the Bears look to get in the win column for the first time in 2017, but a loss would put the team in the driver’s seat for some prime draft position. Over at The Big Lead, Jason McIntyre sizes up the competition for the No. 1 overall pick and a shot at taking Sam Darnold, the USC quarterback who is projected to go No. 1 if he decides to forgo his final year of college eligibility.
While the Bears might not have a direct interest in Darnold, they are one of six winless teams who could upset the draft order if they fall off worse than other top pick contenders. If the consolation prize for a third straight losing season under head coach John Fox is a shot at the top pick and top quarterback prospect, GM Ryan Pace could receive quite the bounty in return.
Or the Bears could think outside the box and grab a player with a bit more upside and generate an actual open quarterback competition.
The options are endless at this point of the college (and pro) football seasons, but there’s no better time to dream than now.
- While we’re dreaming on the draft – even if it’s only momentarily – Matt Miller of Bleacher Report recently released his first big board of the season. It features Darnold as the top quarterback, but that’s not the only name worth keeping track of if you’re interested in college football and potential Bears targets in the 2018 draft. There are four defensive players in Miller’s top-10 and four receivers among the top 18. As the Bears season unfolds, we’ll get a better idea of what their future needs will be, but there’s no doubting the team could use upgrades at receiver, edge rusher, and in the secondary.
- Last week, we highlighted Deon Cain – a Clemson receiver whose name popped up in an early mock draft. Miller has Cain ranked 17th on his board and lists him as the most pro ready receiver. However, the guy worth keeping tabs on is receiver Calvin Ridley, someone we’ll see often because he plays on Alabama. Miller writes Ridley has the best hands, is the best route runner, and best boundary receiver of his draft class. Sounds like a player the Bears could use right now.
- As for the receivers who are currently active on the Bears roster, one is expected to provide a positive impact upon arrival. Markus Wheaton is scheduled to make his Bears debut against his former team and it comes at a time where the team needs him the most. JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago warns that while Wheaton isn’t the kind of instant fix that changes everything, his presence can help. Ben Roethlisberger, Wheaton’s former teammate, raved about the receivers hands and skills from their time together in Pittsburgh. We haven’t seen much of it in Chicago because pinkie surgery and an earlier appendectomy have kept Wheaton off the practice field and out of game action since the preseason. Expectations should be tempered for Wheaton, but he’s arguably the most intriguing pass catcher the Bears have on their roster.
- One player who could state his case for that particular title is tight end Zach Miller, who could be worthy of getting a start in your team’s fantasy lineup if you need last-minute help at the position. Miller’s 72 pass snaps are the fifth most among NFL tight ends and his 88 total snaps are more than starter Dion Sims. If Glennon’s passes continue to make up 70.8 percent of the Bears’ offensive plays, Miller’s production could be a pleasant surprise.
- It would be nice to see the passing game aid the rushing attack for a change. Chris Emma of CBS Chicago writes it’s on Glennon to pry open the running game by airing it out when he drops back. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels as if the odds of that happening are slim. Emma notes Glennon has completed just 21 passes of 30+ yards – with 13 being hauled in by noted deep threats Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson. Still, the Glennon has attempted two such passes and the Bears offense has focused on attacking the middle with short and intermediate routes that have come with minimal yards after the catch. The offense has been predictable and defenses have made pass catchers and ball carriers pay. It’s about time to mix it up, isn’t it?
- Unfortunately, there is no magic formula to fix running back Jordan Howard. The second-year back hasn’t looked like the Pro Bowl caliber back who gained 1,313 yards last year and had his eyes set on snatching Ezekiel Elliott’s rushing crown in 2017. ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson writes the Bears insist Howard is running the same way, but the numbers don’t bear it out so far. Howard has just 59 yards on 22 rushes through two games, and 2.7 yards per rush ranks 39th among running backs. The offensive line in front of him has decimated with injuries, but Kyle Long figures to return today and could help things.
- On the defensive side of the ball, Kyle Fuller might be in search of a new fit with Prince Amukamara’s return. Fuller has played on 96.9 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps, but all he has to show for it is a lowly 46.6 grade from Pro Football Focus. JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago explores Fuller’s potential future fit with Amukamara sliding into his rightful spot at starting corner. With Bryce Callahan’s emergence and early season excellence in the slot, Fuller’s playing time is in danger of taking a sharp decline.