The 2018 NFL Draft is just under a month away, which means that Draftmas is back. Draftmas will take a look at each NFL team heading into this year’s draft, what their needs are and who they could be targeting. Draftmas continues today with the Chicago Bears 2018 NFL Draft profile.
The Chicago Bears enter draft season with an entirely different outlook after free agency. Despite a 2017 season that ultimately ended John Fox’s time with the Bears, there are some promising signs for this team moving forward. However, that only happens if general manager Ryan Pace is able to land impact players in the 2018 draft. The Bears are teetering on relevancy for another season, picking in the top 10.
First and foremost, the development of Mitch Trubisky is vital to any future success the Bears might have. Pace ensured this by trading up last April to grab his favorite quarterback in that draft, and after a rather typical freshman season, it’s time for Trubisky to take a jump in year two.
Fortunately, the Bears went out and grabbed a number of offensive free agents to help ease Trubisky into new coach Matt Nagy’s system. Acquiring Allen Robinson was a huge step in the right direction for a wide receiver group that caught four touchdown passes all of last season. Add speed demon Taylor Gabriel and the versatile Trey Burton to the list of signings, and the Bears have the start of something.
As for the rest of the team, it’s still going to be a work in progress. It’s no secret the Bears have little to offer at outside linebacker, and if one position of need sticks out, it’s an edge rusher. The offensive line also needs some help due to the ongoing health-related problems with Kyle Long and the release of Josh Sitton. If the Bears wish to compete in 2018, Pace has to hit on impactful players in the draft.
Picks and Needs
The Bears have seven picks in the 2018 draft.
First round (1 pick): 8
Second round (1): 39
Third round (0):
Fourth round (2): 105, 115
Fifth round (1): 145
Sixth round (1): 181
Seventh round (1): 224
Offensive line – One unit that had plenty of promise heading into last season that did not live up to expectations was the Bears offensive line. Injuries and regression plagued the line last season, and despite a solid pairing of Long and Cody Whitehair inside, the Bears need to touch up the tackle position and secure Whitehair’s spot at center. Jordan Morgan is still a question mark, and Charles Leno Jr. is already signed through 2020 and looks to have another effective season. If the Bears have a shot at the golden boy prospect, Quenton Nelson, it’s hard to see Pace passing even with a need on the edge.
Slot receiver – Yes, the Bears brought in two wide receivers and a pass-catching tight end this free agency, but there is still a missing piece in the slot. Looking at this draft, a particularly strong area is the slot receivers, especially value picks that will go on day two and three. The Bears needed an overhaul to the worst wide receiver group in all of the NFL in 2017, and a player like Christian Kirk or Anthony Miller would do the trick.
Outside linebacker – As alluded to earlier, outside of Leonard Floyd, the Bears have little to no pass rush on the edge. Pernell McPhee and Willie Young were promptly cut, saving the Bears some money to buy free agents, but leaving a gaping hole at linebacker. Luckily, Akiem Hicks alleviates some of that concern, but the Bears need some new pass rushing blood more than ever.
Cornerback – The Bears cornerbacks were one of the most underrated units in all of football last season. The resurgence of Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara fueled a total turnaround for a young Bears secondary. However, with Fuller signing an offer sheet and Amukamara back for a couple more years, it would be a good time to add depth and find the next potential starter.
Pick No. 8: Tremaine Edmunds, OLB, Virginia Tech
The Bears won’t likely win the Quenton Nelson or Bradley Chubb lottery, even if there is a run of quarterbacks. But Edmunds would be an underrated, value pick at eighth overall. Looking back at what Pace’s prototypical prospect is, Edmunds fits almost perfectly. Edmunds has elite, athletic ability at 6-foot-5 and is still learning the game. He will continue to grow into whatever position he plays at the NFL level.
Edmunds is not that Week 1 impact player. He will take plenty of time to learn the game, but there is not a better coach to utilize his talents than defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. Two things are clear: he is raw and undefined as a defender. But with his frame and speed, there is a chance he develops into one of the most imposing defenders in football. Edmunds arguably has a higher ceiling than even Chubb and is considered one of the best raw talents in this draft.
However, this pick is going to be volatile towards draft day. It is a quarterback-driven top of the draft, and with so many moving pieces, Quenton Nelson could end up being the pick. It is likely that Nelson is the first player on Pace’s draft board, but based on previous drafts and characteristics, Edmunds might be second.
Pick No. 39: Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
Pace has made it abundantly clear that this offseason’s sole purpose is to give Trubisky all the tools he needs to succeed as an NFL quarterback. Christian Kirk would cap off an addition to a now talented group of skill position players. The Bears need a slot receiver, and unless Nagy has ideas for Tarik Cohen in the slot, a player like Kirk would be a great addition.
Now, spending early draft capital on a position the Bears spent lavishly on in free agency might seem counterproductive and could lose out on more needy positions. However, Kirk would be an excellent value in the early second and would make an immediate impact on the field. On top of good football instincts, Kirk runs a fast 40-time and has excellent ball skills. Another dangerous weapon to add could help push this team into contention.
The Bears might be just out of the picture of getting Nelson, but Edmunds is nothing to be upset about and brings much-needed help to the pass rush. Kirk would cap off a great supporting cast for Trubisky to work with.
Make sure to tune in tomorrow for the San Francisco 49ers 2018 Draft profile.