The early reviews are coming in regarding the Chicago Bears’ three picks in the first two rounds and they are absolutely glowing:
No team has improved more this offseason than the @ChicagoBears
It’s not even close.
Most exciting time to be a Bears fan since height of Lovie Smith era. pic.twitter.com/0aVYdsBZl2
— Kyle Brandt (@KyleBrandt) April 27, 2018
Love what Chicago has done. Roquan Smith, James Daniels, Anthony Miller? Three of my favorite players in this draft. #Bears
— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) April 28, 2018
The Bears have now drafted the #2 player on my board (Roquan), #20 player (Anthony Miller) and #27 player (James Daniels). Ryan Pace is killing it.
— Jon Ledyard (@LedyardNFLDraft) April 28, 2018
— Charley Casserly (@CharleyCasserly) April 28, 2018
Cardinals, Giants, Packers and Bears have had great drafts so far.
— J.R. (@JReidDraftScout) April 28, 2018
Charley Casserly on the NFL Network loves the Bears offseason. Roquan Smith is his Defensive ROY next year. Likes the James Daniels pick, too.
“You continued with what you started in free agency, you’ve got three good picks and suddenly your offense looks good.”
— The Ten-Yard Line (@TheTenYardLine) April 28, 2018
- What stands out most from the last two days is how Pace’s plan of attack for draft has been strikingly similar to what it was during free agency. Urgency, aggressiveness, and conviction are the words that come to mind when I think about this offseason, and each term goes defines what the Bears have done in free agency and through two days of the draft.
- We won’t know how well the Bears drafted until these players get on the field, but there is something to be said about how the team was able to address needs at premium positions with highly graded prospects. Chicago has used a pick on Pro Football Focus’ top-rated linebacker prospect (Roquan Smith), second-highest-graded center (James Daniels), and sixth-ranked receiver (Anthony Miller). Let’s put it in a different light: Chicago has drafted three top-60 prospects with their picks. And if we’re looking only at what went down Friday, the Bears drafted two of the top-20 available players when Round 2 opened up. That feels like a winning formula.
- Games aren’t played or won on paper, but if you write it all down, it’s hard to say the Bears aren’t the most improved team in the NFC North. In fact, they can make a strong case for being the NFL’s most improved team. Think about it. The Bears have upgraded coaching on the offensive side of the ball, three wide receiver spots, tight end, and inside linebacker. They have also maintained continuity on the defensive side of the ball by retaining their defensive coordinator and the team’s top three starting corners. It’s hard to imagine the offseason going any better than it has so far.
- As a believer in the idea that good process leads to good results, all signs point to the Bears going through “good process” right now.
- And to think, there are still other places where the Bears can improve. Pace dropped a nugget on Friday night when he said Cody Whitehair was staying at center and that Daniels would be trained to play guard. As we noted when the pick was made, Daniels has experience as a guard from his time at Iowa and it wasn’t much of a stretch to think that it could be his position in the pros. Replacing Josh Sitton isn’t going to be easy, but Daniels staying healthier than Sitton did during his two years in Chicago would go a long way toward doing so.
- You can see why the Bears might like Daniels’ upside moving forward:
Do your feet move that fast? We didn’t think so.
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 28, 2018
- If it turns out that Daniels is the Bears’ long-term solution at center, it’s worth noting that he and quarterback Mitch Trubisky already have something of a history. The two Ohio high school football products squared off against each other in the playoffs when Daniels was a sophomore at Harding High School in Warren and Trubisky was balling out for Mentor back in 2012. “He tore us apart,” Daniels said, via NBC Sports Chicago. “He had like 500 total yards against us and we lost like 42-35. Pretty close. Trubisky threw for 344 yards and added 73 on the ground in a 45-35 win. That’s a pretty good memory, which bodes well for a guy who is about to learn a brand new playbook … right?
- Doing deals with Bill Belichick is never easy to swallow, but this is what it looked like when the Bears and Patriots came together on a deal:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) April 28, 2018
- The one pick that has come with a bit of push-back is the selection of Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller. And it’s not because of Miller as a player. In fact, drafting Miller has come with a wide amount of praise. It’s the trade of a second-round pick in 2019 that has some folks in an awkward place regarding the deal. That second-rounder could be quite valuable next year if the Bears flounder in 2018. I won’t go through the doomsday scenarios, but a third straight last-place finish in the NFC North would put the Patriots in a position to turn this into an absolute steal.
- On the other hand, what if Miller is everything the Bears want and need out of a wide receiver? Should Miller pan out, we might not even be thinking about wide receiver as a need next season. Miller was a stud at Memphis, posting back-to-back 1,400-yard receiving years. He operates inside and out, has reliable hands, and showed an ability to make big plays after the catch. If the Bears’ scouts hit on this pick, then it’s an absolute steal for Chicago. In the end, this could be the type of deal where both teams get something each desired. And while it’s nice to “win” the trade, it’s best for business when both sides have something to be excited about.
- There is a popular belief the Bears wouldn’t have needed a receiver if they would have just matched the Saints’ offer sheet for Cameron Meredith or placed a higher tender that would have kept teams from offering a deal. I understand where that is coming from and can appreciate some good banter. My gut says the Bears probably would have made this move anyway. The need to draft and develop a homegrown receiver was there even before Meredith’s departure. And because the team didn’t have a third-round pick, it was always a possibility that Pace would get creative enough to move back into the third round. That he was able to get back into the second is deserving of a tip of the cap. Landing Miller is just the icing on the cake.