Even though we might have been convinced the Chicago Bears were going to pick a defensive stud at the top of a draft class loaded with defensive playmakers in 2017, we kept an open mind to the possibility of the team selecting a quarterback.
With that in mind, we’re keeping a close eye on what happens to signal callers this year. Not because the Bears are going to take one, but because where they go in the draft will directly impact who the team can (and will) take when GM Ryan Pace goes on the clock.
- Chris Emma of 670 The Score/CBS Chicago writes that the great quarterback rush of 2018 could end up being huge for the Bears come draft day. The Bears’ bold move to trade up and draft Mitch Trubisky is paying off in multiple ways. Trubisky’s presence has made the Bears a more desirable destination compared to last season. We’ve already heard from a head coach, several assistants, and the new No. 1 receiver who have noted that Trubisky’s presence were key to their coming to Chicago.
- Oh, and you can add Taylor Gabriel to that mix, too:
“I’m glad I’m bringing #TurboTime to Chicago.”
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) March 23, 2018
- Those good vibes should continue into the draft because of how the Bears are now positioned to attack. Emma mentions four teams (Browns, Giants, Jets, Broncos) that could draft a quarterback before the Bears get their chance to choose with the No. 8 pick. A fifth team (the Bills) could trade up ahead of the Bears and take a quarterback they like, too. If five quarterbacks are drafted before it’s Chicago’s time to choose, the Bears could be in a position to draft a top-5 non-quarterback prospect. Pace would be looking directly at an opportunity to add a Day 1 playmaker at an impact position without even having to move up.
- Then again, if their interest in Bradley Chubb is what it should be (he is the draft’s highest-graded pass-rusher) then perhaps trading up for the third straight year is in the cards. And while it doesn’t appear like the Bears have the draft capital to make it happen, I’m not ruling anything out because this front office has pulled a rabbit out of its hat before – and frankly – I like surprises.
- Outside of Chubb, the prospects Emma has an eye on include ever-popular Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Alabama do-it-all defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, versatile Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and blazing fast Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward.
- Even though Nelson is garnering attention from a couple of teams drafting ahead of the Bears, SI.com’s Albert Breer’s has the All-American guard sliding to the Bears with the No. 8 pick in his latest mock draft. Breer had the Bears taking Ward in his previous installment, but thinks that Nelson will be available and that new OL Coach Harry Hiestand will be pounding the table to bring his former pupil at Notre Dame into the fold in Chicago. Considering how the NFC North’s top two teams have significantly improved the interior of their defensive lines this offseason, a logical countermove is to do so with the interior offensive line in the draft.
- Not mentioned among the possible draft targets is Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, who Tom Fornelli of CBS Sports has going to the Bears with the eighth pick in his most recent mock draft. Smith is the draft’s best inside linebacker prospect. He is a tackling machine with a non-stop motor with good fundamentals, instincts, and playmaking ability. While Edmunds is an athletic freak with versatility and upside, Smith is further along on a developmental level and is believed to be more NFL-ready. The Bears can’t go wrong with strengthening the middle of their defense with their first-round pick.
- The Bears seem set at starting cornerback with Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller returning on multi-year deals, but the team went out and signed a familiar face to be a part of the position group’s depth. Marcus Cooper is expected to re-sign with the team on a one-year deal at a fraction of the cost of what his original deal with the team was. If you’ll recall, the Bears released Cooper earlier in the month.
- Re-signing Cooper came as something of a surprise, but Pro Football Weekly’s Arthur Arkush seems to have an idea why the move was done. Arkush guesses the Bears were comfortable with knowing what they had in Cooper’s size, durability, and price compared to the unknown of a similar free agent they were unfamiliar with that was currently on the market. Unless the top two corners get hurt, Cooper projects to be a back-end depth piece and special teams contributor. If he excels there, it will go a long way toward him earning his new salary.