There is a growing consensus around football that there are no wide receivers worth taking with a top-10 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft … which is obviously quite a bummer for a Bears team that owns the eighth overall pick and and a massive hole in their receiving corps.
Of course, GM Ryan Pace could buck conventional wisdom (again) and take a receiver with the eighth pick anyway — but that’ll likely go down as a reach for a team with needs elsewhere on the gridiron.
Even still reaching is in the eye of the beholder, and we already know the Bears have been connected to Alabama’s Calvin Ridley, Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk, and, less recently, SMU’s Courtland Sutton. While all three have faced questions about their relative draft worthiness (top ten or otherwise), it seems the former two might have a leg up on the latter.
In fact, if Daniel Jeremiah’s first prospect rankings of 2018 are to be believed, the Bears would be downright crazy to draft Sutton in the first round at all (let alone with the eighth overall pick).
The NFL.com draft analyst ranked Sutton as the 45th best prospect in the draft, well behind Ridley and Kirk and just barely ahead of Dante Pettis.
#22: Calvin Ridley
#29: Christian Kirk
#45: Courtland Sutton
#46 Dante Pettis
That’s not quite where we expected to see the SMU product, who is believed to be one of the two receivers (along with Alabama’s Calvin Ridley) the Bears could explore taking with the eighth overall pick. Sutton has size, skills, and reels upon reels of SportsCenter Top-10 worthy catches to his name. But that has left him way short of being a top-10 selection in the draft in Jeremiah’s eyes.
This isn’t to say Sutton isn’t a well-liked prospect. Checking in among the top-50 is no small feat. And it’s not as if Jeremiah doesn’t see Sutton’s positives, including a wide catch radius and the ability to use his upper-body strength to beat the press, shake off tacklers, and block out defenders trying to take away a 50-50 ball. But it’s clear Sutton is far from a perfect prospect.
Jeremiah writes that Sutton struggles to create separation from defensive backs and lacks things such as “burst and wiggle” as well as “ideal explosiveness and route-running polish.” Sutton has shown a willingness to go over the middle to make tough, contested catches, but lined up primarily outside the numbers and doesn’t have much experience inside the slot. These might sound like minor details, but a true No. 1 receiver should be well-rounded and experienced in all of the nuances the position has to offer.
In any case, it’s apparent that Jeremiah considers Ridley the clear top WR in the class (which is something we’ve heard before), because of his experience inside and out, the variety of moves he uses to rid himself of press coverage, his top-notch route-running skills, and ability to make plays with his speed. Ultimately, Jeremiah sees Ridley developing into a “top-tier No. 2 wideout” at the NFL level.
But even in that scenario … he’s still just the 22nd rated prospect overall. Would you risk taking him with the eighth overall pick, just because he fills a position of need?