While Notre Dame guard Quenton Demps and Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley (who’s meeting with the Bears tonight!) have often been mocked to the Bears with the No. 8 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Ohio State’s Denzel Ward has not-so-quietly jumped into the mix as a possible target.
Ward is believed to be at the top of this draft class’ crop of cornerbacks. Despite underwhelming size, Ward is a polished corner in man coverage with speed who is a willing (and able) defender against the run. HOWEVER, Ward isn’t the cornerback Peter Schrager of NFL.com has going to the Bears with the eighth pick in his first mock draft.
Schrager sends Central Florida’s Mike Hughes to the Bears, making him the first cornerback off the board. as the Bears’ selection: “Hughes is going to be selected a lot higher than most mock drafts have him going right now, as a shutdown corner who possesses tremendous athletic ability,” Schrager writes. “I’ve spoken to some scouts who have circled him as the combine/pro day riser to watch.”
The UCF star is a playmaker with first-round potential, but some mock drafts have projected him to be available in the second. Hughes is a physical corner with tremendous ball skills, speed, and the ability to be a game-changer as a kick return and punt return specialist. Unfortunately, his lack of experience (just one year as a starter) and size (5-11, 191) are knocks on his game that might be too large to overlook and could keep him from being a top-10 selection.
Bears GM Ryan Pace would be wise to address the team’s needs at cornerback via the draft. Selecting a prospect with upside could help improve a secondary that came away with just eight interceptions in 2017. It’s just that Hughes might not be the right fit in the first round.