The Chicago Bears have found some late-round gems in each of GM Ryan Pace’s first three drafts and the hope is that 2018 is no exception.
Delaware defensive lineman Bilal Nichols is lined up to be the Bears’ latest late-round find to make the climb from fifth-round pick to steady contributor in his rookie season.*
In a video posted on the Bears’ YouTube channel, radio play-by-play voice Jeff Joniak interviews Chris Prescott, the scout who was instrumental in the process that eventually led to the team taking the Blue Hens standout in the draft. And with a player like Nichols, the Bears had to look beyond the surface to see what he brought to the table. As it turns out, there was a lot to like beyond his size, strength, and speed once Prescott and defensive line coach Jay Rodgers were able to work out their prospect.
“You had an opportunity to really see him move around,” Prescott said, while noting how Nichols stayed true to his assignments in Delaware’s scheme. “I think in the workouts, you got to see the athleticism, you get to see some of the bend, some of the rush ability that he may have with his upside, which is what you saw at the East-West Game.”
Nichols sprung onto the national scouting radar with a standout performance in the East-West Shrine Game, which was a rare opportunity for the lineman who played his college ball at the FBS level to show his skills against a steady flow of high-end college competition. That’s something that happens from time to time, especially when it comes to small-school prospects who play in particular schemes.
Sometimes, you’ll see more in a private workout than you will in a game situation because of a player’s responsibilities. And it sounds like that’s what happened with Nichols and the Bears when he put together a solid workout.
Nichols is expected to play on all three spots on the defensive line and could be the primary backup at each both ends and at nose tackle, where he played while at Delaware. Further, Prescott would go on to add that the expectation is that Nichols can pick it up quickly and immediately help right away.
You can watch the video below for a full scope of Prescott’s analysis on the pick and the player below:
*It’s worth noting that the fifth round has been a place that has been quite fruitful for the Bears. In 2015, the team drafted safety Adrian Amos with the 142nd overall pick and all he has done is essentially been a solid three-year starter whose breakout season in 2017 landed him atop a list of the league’s best safeties. A year later, the team plucked running back Jordan Howard in the fifth round (150th overall) and watched him grow into the team’s feature back after consecutive 1,000-yard seasons to start his career. No pressure, Mr. Nichols. But Amos and Howard have raised the bar for fifth-rounders who make their way to Chicago.