As hoped, the Bears benefited from a run on quarterbacks ahead of them in the 2018 NFL draft. But perhaps that opportunity worked out even better than expected.
Indeed, NFL.com college football writer Chase Goodbread recently ranked the top 100 rookies of the 2018 season, based on who will provide the biggest impact, and guess what? Bears first-round pick Roquan Smith is featured quite prominently.
Goodbread ranks the Bears’ newest inside linebacker – selected 8th overall – as the projected fifth best rookie of this class, behind only Saquon Barkley, Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb, and Derwin James. A top five projected talent taken at the back end of the top ten? Yes, please.
Blessed with high-end athleticism, speed, and an impressive football IQ, Smith figures to be an integral piece in the middle of Vic Fangio’s defense. He’s expected to supplant Nick Kwiatkoski as the starter, where he’ll be teamed with the strong and steady presence of Danny Trevathan.
But while Smith is the headliner of the Bears draft class, he isn’t their only player to make the top 100.
Guard James Daniels ranks 51st and is in line to make the transition from starting center at Iowa to left guard in the NFL. Daniels will compete with Eric Kush for the starting job in camp, a position he is likely to win if he stays healthy and progresses as expected. While at Iowa, Daniels was quick learner who started at guard as a true freshman in the Hawkeyes’ Rose Bowl appearance before sliding over to full-time starting center responsibilities as a sophomore.
Wide receiver Anthony Miller also cracks the top 100, coming in at No. 62. Miller is one of 12 receivers to make the cut, which says a lot about the depth at the position in this class. Miller is one of a handful of new wideouts brought in this offseason as part of the drastic overhaul at the position. The Bears’ selection of Miller bumped Kevin White off the starting line at the “Z” receiver position, which should make for an interesting training camp battle for the last few spots on the roster.
Because the Bears-Packers rivalry figures to heat up after Chicago’s aggressive offseason, it’s worth noting that Green Bay also landed three rookies in the top 100. I suppose the battles between Miller and cornerback Josh Jackson could be fun to watch. Meanwhile, the Lions and Vikings each came away with two draftees who made the list.