Mel Kiper Jr. is the foremost authority on the NFL Draft – at least, in my opinion.
The long-time draft guru has been at it, well, a very a long time (go figure) and I respond to the unveiling of his first mock draft every year the way most do when their favorite artist drops a new single. There’s anticipation and excitement, even if you know there’s still so much more to come in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
And for what it’s worth, Kiper nailed the order of the first three picks in the 2017 NFL Draft with Myles Garrett, Mitch Trubisky, and Solomon Thomas going in order. He just didn’t have Trubisky and Thomas going to the right teams, but we won’t knock him for that one bit.
With that said, Kiper’s first mock draft of 2018 takes an obvious, but exciting, route with the Bears’ first-round selection, sending Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley to Chicago with the eighth overall pick. Ridley’s name has been tied to the Bears for some time now, and it’s likely to be as more mocks are released this offseason.
“Chicago has to add weapons for Mitchell Trubisky, and Ridley is the best receiver in this class by a mile,” Kiper writes. “If the Bears can get a pass-catcher here – and don’t upgrade in free agency – Ridley makes the most sense. If he had played in a better passing offense, he could have been a Biletnikoff winner. He’s extremely talented.”
Considering the Bears’ needs (yes, plural) at the position (some of which we touched upon here) Ridley was an obvious choice. It comes as no surprise that Kiper would try to fill the team’s most obvious need with a first-round pick who is believed to be the best player in his class at the position. It all seems so logical. But after GM Ryan Pace used his first pick on Kevin White, many Bears fans will feel uneasy (to say the least) about taking another receiver this high. White and Ridley aren’t necessarily two peas in a pod, but there’s something there (even if it’s a post for another day).
After all, with needs at other spots on the gridiron, the Bears could pass on drafting a riskier first-round receiver in favor of a safer pick, like a top offensive lineman, pass rusher, or cornerback. To be sure, the Bears will be linked to a ton of names between now and draft day. So much like Chicago’s weather, if you don’t like it, just wait a few minutes and it will change.
But how about that description of Ridley? Encouraging, right?
While the Bears had been connected to Ridley previously, not every draft-scout/guru was certain he was the top receiver in his class (Courtland Sutton, to name one, is often listed right up there too). But the way Kiper sees it, Ridley’s not just the best, he’s the best by a mile – and, of course, Kiper believes he could’ve been even better on a different team/in a different offense.
Given how much we value Kiper’s opinion around these parts, you can bet our interest in Ridley just ticked up a few notches, and yours should too. We’ll have to wait and see how reviews and mocks evolve over the winter and spring, but as of now, it sounds like the Bears might be in a position to take the best overall receiver in the draft – which could be ideal. Stay tuned.
Michael Cerami contributed to this post.