It’s never too early to scan the field of college football prospects for the next NFL star. And after a 1-4 start to the season, it appears likely the Bears will have another high pick in next year’s draft.
Of course, while the team’s record isn’t where anyone wants it to be, another sub-par season could grant the front office an opportunity to take another impact player as the team continues its rebuild.
Enter Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, who recently released his latest projected 2018 NFL Mock Draft. While this particular forecast was put together before the Bears’ loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football, Miller’s insight into what direction a team with a top-five pick could go come draft day.
Miller has the Bears picking Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, a player he believes could provide an immediate impact. It’s an brow-raising selection until you consider the fact the Bears still don’t have an interception after five games and Quintin Demps – their top free agent acquisition in the secondary – was already struggling before suffering a broken arm that landed him on injured reserve.
By drafting Fitzpatrick, the Bears would recreate the Crimson Tide’s championship-caliber defensive backfield by reuniting him with rookie starter Eddie Jackson. Fitzpatrick projects to be one of the most well-rounded prospects who could be one of those rare players who has a high ceiling and high floor. He has game experience at both safety spots, as well as inside and outside cornerback, which would bode well for a secondary lacking the kind of versatility, production, and potential Fitzpatrick has as a college prospect.
Despite everything Fitzpatrick could potentially bring to the table, it would be a bit surprising if the Bears didn’t select an offensive playmaker. Specifically, a wide receiver for Mitch Trubisky to throw to on the outside.
HOWEVER, Miller describes the 2018 NFL Draft’s class of receivers as deep – but not top-heavy. In fact, the first receiver selected in the first round of Miller’s mock draft is Alabama’s Calvin Ridley – at 24 to the Buffalo Bills. The only other first-round receiver is Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, who goes off the board at No. 29 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Deon Cain, a Clemson receiver who was mocked to the Bears earlier, isn’t seen as a first-rounder at this time according to Miller.
It would be surprising to see the Bears go in a direction other than one that puts a high-end receiver on the field with an offense that seems set at quarterback (Trubisky), running back (Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen), and along the offensive line. Then again, it would be hard to go wrong at any position because the Bears have so many needs around the gridiron.