It’s fair if you envisioned (or even dreamt on) the Chicago Bears drafting Quenton Nelson with the eighth overall pick in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft – especially after learning about the team’s decision to not pick up the third-year option on Josh Sitton’s contract.
But perhaps we should pump the brakes on this scenario in the wake of Dan Pompei (The Athletic) offering up the idea that the All-American Notre Dame guard might not be the perfect pick for the Bears when they’re on the clock.
Pompei unearths a draft day quote from Bears GM Ryan Pace when the team chose Kevin White with the seventh pick in 2015: “Stay true to our board, take the best player available, and let’s get a playmaker. Whether it’s defense or offense, let’s get a playmaker in the top 10 and that’s what we did.”
While the results haven’t been there for White, at least the process was made sense. Because as we ramp up toward free agency, we’re learning that the only thing more difficult than finding an impact playmaker at a skill position is acquiring one in free agency – they rarely make it there.
Based on the team’s recent history, the Bears’ decision-makers view the draft as an opportunity to strike and acquire athletic, high-end talents at skill positions that would otherwise not be available via other avenues. This is the line of thinking Pace has used in the drafts that came after White, when choosing a pass-rusher with upside (Leonard Floyd) in 2016 and the quarterback-of-the-future (Mitch Trubisky) in 2017. If history is any indication, the Bears will follow that path again.
And if that’s the case, Nelson – an interior lineman – isn’t going to fit the bill. That isn’t to say Nelson won’t be an impact player, but the top-10 is the best place to find a high-end pass-rusher, top-notch cover corner, and a playmaker on offense. The Bears lack playmakers throughout their roster and can ill-afford to pass up a golden opportunity to draft and develop one in 2018. Unfortunately, it could come at the risk of passing on the draft’s best offensive line prospect.