The Chicago Bears’ front office would be wise to enter the 2018 NFL Draft with Mitch Trubisky’s development in mind. Knowing that, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller lines up an impact player to aid in Trubisky’s growth as a quarterback.
With the sixth pick in the draft, Miller has the Bears taking University of Texas left tackle Connor Williams. This isn’t the first time Williams has been connected to Chicago via an early mock draft and won’t be the last if the team’s pass protection continues to struggle. Trubisky has been sacked on 9.6 percent of his drop-backs and has been taken down at least twice in five of his seven starts. Still, the front office should ensure the knee injury that caused Williams to miss time this season isn’t something that will flare up and keep him off the field during his rookie season. We discussed that in an early November mock draft that sent Williams to Chicago.
Of course, drafting Williams and putting him at left tackle isn’t that easy. The Bears gave Charles Leno Jr. a pay raise and an extension prior to the season, and the 26-year-old left tackle has responded with his best year, by Pro Football Focus’ grading standards. Leno Jr.’s 78.3 grade ranks 20th among 80 qualifying tackles and is on the fringe of moving out of the “average” category and into being graded as “above average.” He was a surprisingly excellent pass blocker in 2016 and has improved his run blocking, where his 80.2 grade ranks 16th best at PFF.
Chicago could stand to improve on the right side of the line, where right tackle Bobby Massie owns a “below average” 68.1 grade. The Bears could view Massie as replaceable, especially if a player with Williams’ upside is brought into the fold. They could also move Leno Jr. to right tackle and install Williams as the new blindside protection.
For what it’s worth, Leno Jr. received reps at right tackle back in 2015, but never panned out at the position and has since performed better on the left side. In any case, solidifying the offensive line should be a priority going into 2018.
So should finding pass-catching help for Trubisky.
In addition to sending Williams to Chicago in his mock draft, Miller suggests the Bears target a wide receiver like Simmie Cobbs Jr. of nearby Oak Park.
Cobbs Jr. just wrapped up his senior season at Indiana and checks in at 6-4, 220 pounds. He put together a 60-catch, 1,035-yard season as a sophomore in 2015, missed all but one play of the 2016 campaign with an ankle injury, but returned with a 72-catch, 841-yard, 8-touchdown senior season. With his size, Cobbs Jr.’s frame could help Trubisky cut down on some of the misfires by providing a wide catch radius.
The Hoosiers have put out some quality NFL talent in recent years, such as Pro Bowl running back Jordan Howard (yeah, that guy) and Los Angeles Chargers guard Dan Feeney.