Three weeks from today, we’ll be unpacking the Chicago Bears’ first-round selection and preparing for Day 2 of the 2018 NFL Draft.
In the meantime, here’s the buzz surrounding the draft.
- Ryan Pace has a type. Everybody does. But whether Pace will have a chance to draft the apple of his eye remains to be seen. Over at Da Bears Blog, Johnathan Wood breaks down the trends in Pace’s drafts and forecasts what that could mean for 2018. Wood highlights five players who fit the bill, and frankly, the Bears wouldn’t get much of an argument from me if they drafted from this top tier of prospects: Tremaine Edmunds, Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Derwin James.
- John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago explains the “cloud” concept Pace employs as a drafting template, adding his belief this year’s version will have “eight-ish” prospects the team will feel comfortable taking with the eighth pick. Mullins goes about eliminating some prospects, such as cornerbacks (despite Iowa’s Josh Jackson, Ohio State’s Denzel Ward, and Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick sitting at the top of their position groups), nose tackles (not like there’s one worth taking in the top-10 anyway), and quarterbacks (duh) are excluded from the cloud. From there, expect the Bears to take the best player available at a position not excluded from the group.
- So who’s in the cloud? Mullin has pass rushers (Bradley Chubb, Marcus Davenport, Harold Landry), linebackers (Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds), a wide receiver (Calvin Ridley), and an offensive lineman (Quenton Nelson). Depending on the scenario that unfolds on draft day, the Bears could stick with their pick or trade down and get someone in the cloud while also adding picks. Because of the Bears’ needs, it’s tough to pin down what position the team will prioritize with their first pick, and with their subsequent selections.
- The NFL owners meetings in Orlando brought us pictures of new coaches and general managers, as well as an updated (simplified?) catch rule. But did it also open a window to what teams picking in the top-10 were thinking? Adam Stites of SB Nation shares insight into what could be coming in the pipeline early in the first round. From a Bears perspective, Stites sees this comment from Matt Nagy as an indication he prefers a player he can plug into the offensive side of the ball:
#Bears coach Matt Nagy was asked if he'd prefer an offensive player with the No. 8 pick: "It would make sense, wouldn’t it? If you think I am going to tell you anything about where we’re going with this draft, you’re crazy. There are some special guys in that group there."
— Brad Biggs (@BradBiggs) March 27, 2018
- What else was an offensive-minded coach supposed to say? Does Nagy want an offensive player? Probably. Could this all be a big smokescreen? Definitely.
- Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly shared his second mock draft, but he doesn’t see the Bears going with a player on the offensive side of the ball. And while Arkush has three quarterbacks going in the top-5 to help the Bears’ cause, he sends Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to Chicago with the eight pick. Arkush seems hesitant to do so, suggesting he would rather draft a player with more proven production than a lesser-proven player with more athleticism and upside. However, Arkush notes Pace’s history in the first round and it leads him to the Bears taking Edmunds.
- PFW teammate Eric Edholm also has the Bears selecting Edmunds with the eight pick in his most recent mock draft. Like Arkush before him, Edholm cites Pace’s past in drafting “high-ceiling, athletically blessed projects” in the first round. Edmunds has as high a ceiling as any defensive draft prospect, according to Edholm. He also adds the comparisons to Brian Urlacher are “wholly unfair” because, well, duh.
- As a former league executive, Charley Casserly of the NFL Network knows a thing or two about how things shake down on draft day. Casserly has three quarterbacks going in the top five, but also has the Bears picking a defensive standout in his latest mock draft. Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward is the pick, with Casserly noting it gives the Bears a young, talented partner to pair with Kyle Fuller on the other side. Considering the financial investment in Fuller and Prince Amukamara in free agency, drafting a cornerback seems like a luxury. However, with teams running three receiver sets on more than 60 percent of offensive sets, having three capable cover corners really isn’t a luxury if you think about it.
- If you’re surprised we have gone this far without finding a mock draft that connects Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson to the Bears, you shouldn’t be. For as much as he’s a fit for the Bears, other teams could want him, too. For example, Richard Hesse’s mock draft has Nelson going to the Denver Broncos. Citing Denver’s signing of Case Keenum as a reason the team wouldn’t take the best available quarterback, Hesse’s mock has the Broncos going with Nelson … but only if Penn State Saquon Barkley is off the board. Hesse basically projects the Broncos’ interest to be an illusion and has the team taking Nelson with the fifth pick. Now, that would be one heck of a smoke screen.
- You can add the Buccaneers as one of the teams interested in Nelson after hosting him for a private visit on Wednesday, according to Trevor Sikkema of Pewter Report.
- We’ll leave you on something of a high note, with Pro Football Focus’ latest mock draft being one that sends Nelson to the Bears. Previous PFF mocks have linked Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams and Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson to the Bears, but this one isn’t like the others. And it comes with the twist of NC State pass rusher Bradley Chubb falling all the way to No. 10. So while Nelson seems like the perfect fit for the Bears at No. 8, I can’t imagine the team passing on him if Chubb is available.