It’s becoming more apparent that the Chicago Bears’ search for offensive improvement via the NFL Draft isn’t limited to wide receivers, tight ends, and offensive linemen.
In a recent piece by Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune, Biggs notes that the Bears used one of their 60 official interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis to meet with USC running back Ronald Jones II. And it’s not like this interview was interesting just because it was coming off the heels of a (since debunked) rumor regarding a possible swap that would have sent running back Jordan Howard to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for receiver Jarvis Landry.
Biggs hears Jones has been compared to former Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles, which is high praise for any running back prospect. Jones has the potential to be the second running back drafted in what is believed to be a deep class of players at that particular position. Jones certainly has the stats to back up his lofty draft status, having gained 3,619 rushing yards and scored 39 touchdowns on the ground. Jones’ NFL.com draft profile describes him as a “more than capable” pass-catcher who is also willing to provide some blitz protection. Sounds like the kind of back worth adding to the team’s stable. It all adds up to a first- or second-round projection for the USC product.
Unfortunately, a tweaked hamstring suffered while running the 40-yard-dash at the Combine moved Jones to the “losers” category in Bucky Brooks’ weekend round-up at NFL.com. Jones will have until USC’s Pro Day on March 21 to get healthy and run a better time.
The Bears don’t have a pressing need at running back, but it’s not like the position is completely set heading into the 2018 season. Howard is a fine running back, but is limited as a pass catcher. Tarik Cohen wore many hats as a rookie in 2017, among them was the team’s RB2, a role he might not be able to fill for long stretches of time if Howard ever finds himself missing for an extended period. Third-string running back Benny Cunningham is a free agent, while waiver wire addition Taquan Mizzel didn’t see much action last season.
After watching the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, as well as contenders like the New Orleans Saints, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars, and others use multiple capable running backs, it’s tough to argue against using a draft pick on a talented player who can fill a void on the offense. As far as the Bears are concerned, adding playmakers at any position would be wise. You don’t have to squint to see Jones as a possibility, but he’ll need a clean bill of health before the Bears take a deeper dive.