The Chicago Bears can’t fill all the holes on their roster in free agency and will need to make the most of the NFL Draft, particularly when they go on the clock with the eighth overall pick.
So while the Bears will presumably have some important needs to fill come draft day, at least GM Ryan Pace should have plenty of top talent to choose from – especially if three or four quarterbacks come off the board in the first seven picks. However, what constitutes “best player available” is open to interpretation at this point of the process.
For example, The Athletic’s Chris Burke unveiled his most recent big board of draft prospects and goes out on a limb by putting Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson as its No. 1 player. As we recently discussed, guards rarely get that kind of love and the Bears could be tempted to take Nelson despite the hang-ups that generally come with drafting an interior lineman with a top-10 pick. Burke calls Nelson “an All-Pro waiting to happen” and described his performance for the Fighting Irish in 2017 as “almost flawless.” That’s high praise for anyone, more so for an interior offensive lineman.
Burke’s mold-breaking analysis doesn’t stop there. While early draft chatter has suggested there is no receiver worth taking with a top-10 pick, Burke seems like the type who would disagree based on his placement of Alabama wideout Calvin Ridley as his eighth best prospect. Burke expects defenses to challenge the 6-1, 180-pound receiver with press coverage early, but Ridley’s route-running and ability to get off the line is so refined, he could force opponents to quickly make adjustments of their own.
And yet, when it comes to his most recent mock draft, Burke sends the Bears in a totally different direction. Nelson is long gone by the time the Bears pick and rather than select Ridley, Burke has the team plucking linebacker Tremaine Edmunds from Virginia Tech.
Edmunds is a talented linebacker who Burke believes could play outside opposite of Leonard Floyd, giving the Bears the kind of pass-rushing duo it sorely needs to compete against quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Matthew Stafford. If not, Edmunds is skilled enough to slide inside and play alongside Danny Trevathan, solidifying the middle of the defense and playing the role Jerrell Freeman would have played had it not been for injuries and a suspension.
Burke has three quarterbacks coming off the board in the first six picks, which would leave the Bears in a winning position. How they go about taking advantage of it remains to be seen, but right now, it would be difficult to choose a wrong path.