The build up before the NFL Draft comes with more plot twists than your favorite M. Night Shyamalan flick. And because there are so many highly qualified analysts with different perspectives on prospects, fits, and how to build a winning team, there will be times where building a consensus is difficult.
That will likely be the case with this year’s crop of receivers.
ESPN’s Todd McShay published his position rankings on Monday and, notably, exactly zero wide receivers made the top 10. In fact, McShay lists only two receivers in the top-25 of his rankings altogether. Alabama’s Calvin Ridley is the top-rated wide receiver (16th overall) and “the clear No. 1 receiver in this class,” according to McShay, who claims that Ridley’s speed, quickness, and acceleration should make him “a nightmare in the open field.”
HOWEVER, McShay throws caution behind his take by adding that he is unsure Ridley is a No. 1 receiver at the next level. UGH. That’s a bit of a gut-punch for a Bears team with a top-10 pick and a big, glaring, obvious need at receiver.
But do we buy it? After all, Ridley didn’t often get a chance to play to his potential over the years, because Alabama’s run-first offense limited his touches. Further, quarterback Jalen Hurts’ frequent inaccuracy also kept Ridley from the kind of breakout season that would have secured his name into the top-ten conversation.
And yet, Chris Trapasso of CBSSports.com has Ridley as an ideal fit for the Bears with the No. 8 pick in his most recent mock draft.
“In Kansas City, Matt Nagy had two players who could consistently get separation in Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce,” Trapasso writes. “That’s Ridley’s specialty, and he’s what Mitchell Trubisky needs.”
Well, then. It appears the Bears could find themselves in quite the conundrum on draft day.
By drafting Ridley, the Bears could add a top prospect at a position of need who can help get the offense up to speed. We saw the kind of impact a reliable pass catcher with speed to burn in the open field could make in a big game. But drafting Ridley might come at the risk of passing on a player with higher upside at a different position (Michael: The classic draft-day dilemma – team-need vs. top talent available).
On the other side of the equation, the Bears could go in a different direction and hope to land a top receiver elsewhere in the draft. Chicago has so many needs, it’s easy to argue against drafting a receiver early. Then again, the more you avoid addressing the receiver position with a high-upside pick, the more likely it is for Trubisky’s growth to be stunted by having a lackluster group of pass-catching options. Head -> spinning.
We’ll likely get a clue about how the Bears will approach the draft by how the team goes about attacking free agency. If the front office dives into the deep end and comes away with a big-money receiver (or two) early in the process (there are some options out there), the chances of drafting a receiver with the eighth pick take a hit. But frankly, the Bears would probably be wise to use both free agency and the draft to fill holes at receiver – it’s a plan that worked well enough for teams like the Rams and Eagles in 2017 – but we’ll see what they do.