Two of football’s most well-renowned prospect analysts have revealed their initial list of top draft-eligible players and the names at positions of need for the Chicago Bears should leave fans encouraged.
Mike Mayock recently released his position rankings, while Bucky Brooks did the same earlier in February. Here are the highlights through the lens of the Bears’ biggest positional needs.
Brooks believes this class of receivers lacks star power (boo!), but he also notes that several players are well-polished and could contribute immediately (hooray!). Adding pass-catchers who can start or play a significant role in the offense from the get-go could go a long way in aiding Mitch Trubisky’s development.
Both Brooks and Mayock have Calvin Ridley (Alabama) and Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) as their top receivers. The two also both have James Washington (Oklahoma State) and Courtland Sutton (SMU) in their top five. If Chicago can find a way to land at least one of these targets in the first two rounds of the draft, they would provide an instant lift to the passing offense. Brooks lauds Ridley’s hands and route-running skills, notes Kirk’s playmaking ability in the slot and as a returner, and calls Washington “the most explosive vertical threat” among this crop of receivers. In short, each prospect brings something to the table that the Bears offense sorely lacked in 2017.
Should the Bears choose to address the cornerback position, know that Mayock and Brooks each have the same five – but in different relative orders. Denzel Ward (Ohio State) is the consensus top corner, while Josh Jackson (Iowa), Isaiah Oliver (Colorado), Mike Hughes (Central Florida), and Jaire Alexander (Louisville) round out the rest of the group.
Outside of Ridley, Ward is the one most-often mocked to go to the Bears with the eighth overall pick this April. There was also a good case to be made for Jackson, an Iowa product who could be a fit for Vic Fangio’s defensive scheme.
INTERIOR OFFENSIVE LINE
When it comes to interior linemen, both have Quenton Nelson (Notre Dame) at the top in the least surprising ranking ever. Both Mayock and Brooks have Will Hernandez (UTEP), Isaiah Wynn (Georgia), James Daniels (Iowa), and Billy Price (Ohio State) in the top-5, too. Brooks says this class of interior linemen is “loaded with tough guys” who have high IQs, which is good news for a front office that could ultimately use the draft to replace Josh Sitton and fortify the line.
This is where Brooks and Mayock seem to have a disagreement. While both seem to think highly of Roquan Smith (Georgia) and Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech), there isn’t a consensus when it comes to position. Brooks has Smith as this class’ best inside linebacker and Edmunds as its top outside linebacker. Mayock lumps all the linebackers together, but ranks Edmunds above Smith. Edmunds is seen as the more versatile player with more upside, while Smith is a more prototypical inside linebacker who projects to be a plug-and-play Week 1 starter. In either case, we’ll be following both as the Bears could be in the market to draft one or the other in April.
You can check out Mayock’s position rankings here and compare them with those belonging to Brooks here. It will be notable to follow how both pundits’ lists evolve in the weeks leading up to the draft.