The NFL Draft is less than a month away and we can hardly contain our excitement.
- ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper shared his latest mock draft, and you can add it to the growing pile of predictions sending Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson to the Chicago Bears. Kiper is impressed with the Bears’ moves this offseason – particularly, the additions of Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, and Trey Burton to Mitch Trubisky’s crew off pass-catchers – and believes adding to the protection should be the team’s next priority. With Harry Hiestand (Nelson’s position coach while at Notre Dame) in the fold on the Bears’ coaching staff, drafting Nelson seems like a perfect match.
- Let’s face it: GM Ryan Pace aggressively attacking needs at skill positions via free agency will do the Bears no good if Trubisky doesn’t have time to drop back, process the defense, make good decisions, and throw to open receivers. Matt Nagy’s up-tempo, high-flying offense won’t get off the ground if Trubisky is on his back. No, an interior lineman isn’t the sexy pick. And taking one in the top-10 will have its share of detractors. But if he’s the best player available and fits a position of need, then this should be a no-brainer.
- For what it’s worth, Nelson is the third different player Kiper has mocked to the Bears since he started this process. The first was Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley, and he was followed by Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. Of course, priorities and needs change, so changing mock drafts is no problem. It’s also worth noting Kiper favorably compared the Notre Dame standout, Nelson, to a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist.
- Relatedly, when we last looked at Matt Miller’s mock draft, the Bleacher Report analyst had the New York Giants drafting Nelson with the second overall pick. But, like Chicago, things have changed in New York. Miller’s updated mock now has the Giants going with North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb, which could leave Nelson available at #8.
- With four quarterbacks coming off the board ahead of their pick, Miller’s most recent mock draft has the Bears taking Nelson with the eighth pick. It’s a change from the last mock that had Chicago choosing Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, but it’s a change that would come with a smattering of applause from the offensive coaches and players. Miller believes Nelson has “the tools of an immediate blue chip starter” and that placing him in the interior of the Bears’ line could make for a potent offense. I guess if you put it in that light, it’s pretty tough to be disappointed with that line of thinking.
- The NFL shared analyst Lance Zierlein shared his third mock draft in style with video. You’ll want to fast forward to the 0:38 mark if you want to see who he has the Bears taking:
— NFL (@NFL) March 28, 2018
- Somewhere, the Bears’ general manager is probably nodding and smiling while looking over these mock drafts. As Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times reports, Pace is openly rooting for an early run of quarterbacks to go off the board before the Bears go on the clock at No. 8. “If four quarterbacks go in front of us, I’m all for it,” Pace said. “You see the value of that position right now when you see people posturing to get up in the draft and get a quarterback. It’s critical.” We have been thinking about something along this angle for quite some time.
- Seriously, let’s keep hyping these quarterbacks:
That's a pretty good QB, @Nate13Burleson 👀
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 26, 2018
- Now, think about these “what if?” scenarios:
The #NFLDraft can be crazy…
So we put together a couple of “what if” scenarios 🤔⬇️
📺: Path To The Draft pic.twitter.com/4UKVpISij7
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) March 25, 2018
- Because of their offseason spending spree, the Bears are no longer in a position to do what many feared: reach for a receiver in the first round. So while the team might miss out on a first-round talent early, the strength in this class of receivers isn’t in the top but instead in the depth. Among the most intriguing players who will be available after Round 1 is Iowa State’s Allen Lazard. Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register has the run down of Lazard’s “impressive” pro day. There is a lot to like about Lazard, who checks in at 6-4, 227 pounds with hands that measured at 9-7/8 inches, the largest measured at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Couple the measurables with a college career in which he scored 26 touchdowns, a positive showing at the Senior Bowl, and an impressive 4.55-second 40-yard-dash at the Combine, and we’re looking at a potential difference-maker for any offense.
- I don’t want to lose sight of players the Bears have been rumored to have eyes on for quite some time. For example, Calvin Ridley still intrigues me and that Kiper’s most recent mock draft has him falling all the way to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 26 really opens some eyes. Ridley might be the type of polished, pro-ready receiver who is ready to contribute right away despite having mixed reviews after the Combine. In the end, the falling stock of a player once believed to be “far and away” the best receiver prospect in this draft suggests some major values could be had in the second round.
- One of those values could be SMU’s Courtland Sutton, who isn’t even mocked to go in Kiper’s first round. If you browse the web for updated mock drafts, you’ll find enough that are higher on Sutton than Kiper seems to be. Sutton has a pro day coming up on Thursday, but he is already clearing time to meet with a pair of teams with late first-round picks. The Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, as well as the New Orleans Saints have scheduled to meet with Sutton before his pro day, according to Chase Goodbread.
- Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk was a playmaker in college as a receiver an in the return game, so it’s only fitting he capped it off with what is being described as an impressive Pro Day. Kirk performed in front of more than 40 coaches, scouts, and front office executives from the NFL and CFL. Additional eyes were on hand to see Johnny Manziel throw, but the Heisman Trophy winner also passed along some heady advice. “[Manziel said take the process step by step, don’t try to get too ahead of it, and just enjoy it,” Kirk said.
- All 32 teams were on hand to see Kirk … and Manziel:
Johnny Manziel threw at Texas A&M’s pro day today … this time in front of all 32 NFL teams. pic.twitter.com/GZxpRHu90e
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 27, 2018
- ESPN’s Matt Bowen has some video analysis of two of my favorite defensive prospects. First, Boston College’s Harold Landry, who might be the second-best pass-rushing prospect in this draft and might have been rated higher had it not been for a nagging ankle injury in 2017:
Boston College DE Harold Landry vs. FSU (‘16 tape)…There’s the speed off the ball. And the ability to turn the corner. That fits with Landry’s 10-yard split time (1.59) & 3-Cone (6.88). pic.twitter.com/VaKisHIQA2
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 25, 2018
- And finally, don’t forget about Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, who could be available for the Bears when they go on the clock at No. 8:
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) March 26, 2018