The Chicago Bears’ offseason of talent acquisition has one more, very important step: The 2018 NFL Draft.
After GM Ryan Pace made moves to add Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, Aaron Lynch, and others in free agency, the organization’s focus now shifts to adding more young talent to the roster through the draft.
Despite an active free agency period, the Bears still have many needs. We’re going to look at some of the best prospects at various positions of interest leading up to the draft.
Today: Running back
Currently on the Roster (2017 Pro Football Focus Grade):
- Jordan Howard (73.6)
- Tarik Cohen (76.3)
- Benny Cunningham (57.2)
- Taquan Mizzell (59.2)
Pro Football Focus’ Top-5 Prospects:
- Saquon Barkley, Penn State
- Ronald Jones II, USC
- Rashad Penny, San Diego State
- Nick Chubb, Georgia
- Sony Michel, Georgia
Best of the Rest: Derrius Guice, LSU; Royce Freeman, Oregon; Kerryon Johnson, Auburn; Kalen Ballage, Arizona State; Bo Scarbrough, Alabama
The Bears have a load-carrying back in Jordan Howard, whose power and speed allow him to run outside and between the tackles to the tune of back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons behind a make-shift offensive line and in a scheme deemed predictable by his own standards. The team also has an excellent pass-catching back in Tarik Cohen, who appears to be a mismatch waiting to happen now that he’s in a new scheme. What the Bears don’t have is a running back who has a little bit from Column A and a little from Column B. So while that seems like a luxury for a team with other needs, teams churn through running backs like it’s nobody’s business. Having depth at a position with such a short shelf life wouldn’t be a bad thing.
Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:
GM Ryan Pace has taken a late-round running back in each of his first three drafts, so why not keep with the tradition for a fourth straight offseason. San Diego State’s Rashad Penny fits the bill as a middle-round pick who is a smooth, speedy runner. Royce Freeman is another prospect to keep an eye on in this regard, especially since new OC Mark Helfrich was Freeman’s head coach at Oregon.
The Bears Have Reportedly Met With…
Mike Boone, Cincinnati; Jarvion Franklin, Western Michigan; Michael Isaac, Michigan; Ty Isaac, Michigan; Ronald Jones II, USC; Ryan Nall, Oregon State
If I Had to Pick One:
If Saquon Barkley is on the board when the Bears are on the clock, they shouldn’t hesitate to draft him. Run to the podium, make the pick, and don’t think twice. Barkley is the top position-player prospect in this class. And if anyone has any problems with it, you point out what the Saints did with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara last season.