A mad rush for quarterbacks at the top of the upcoming NFL Draft should leave the Chicago Bears in a prime position to pluck one of the best non-quarterback prospects available.
Arthur Arkush of Pro Football Weekly shared his first mock draft, which features two quarterbacks trading up to select quarterbacks. In fact, Arkush’s draft has three quarterbacks going off the board within the first five picks. That would leave the Bears sitting pretty at No. 8, with a number of options.
But because Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson and Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward are off the board (in that mock), Arkush projects Chicago to go in a different direction: selecting UTSA edge defender Marcus Davenport with the eighth pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
With North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb off the board, Davenport is believed by many to be the second best pass-rusher in this particular draft class.
Much like each of GM Ryan Pace’s first three picks, Davenport has tremendous athletic upside. Listed at 6-6, 264 pounds, Davenport has the athletic build to go with the necessary tools that could make him the kind of stud pass rusher the Bears could stick opposite of Leonard Floyd. Davenport has experience as a defensive end, but played his junior season as a stand-up rusher in UTSA’s scheme, showing off some versatility.
Over the last two seasons, Davenport has come away with 15 sacks and 27.5 tackles-for-loss in 24 games. Still, Davenport is something of a work in progress. While playing for the University of Texas-San Antonio, Davenport didn’t often get opportunities to go up against premier college talent. And he still has some catching up to do regarding the learning curve that comes with his position.
If you find yourself reading Davenport’s NFL.com draft profile, you might come away feeling the same way you did when you were learning about Leonard Floyd in 2016. That’s not a bad thing, but surely the Bears would prefer a more developed prospect when they go on the clock with a top-10 pick. Then again, getting Vic Fangio’s hands on Davenport could accelerate the learning process and give the Bears the type of pass-rushing playmaker the defense needs.
The Bears will be in the market to draft a pass-rushing outside linebacker/defensive end after releasing Willie Young and Pernell McPhee in the offseason. Davenport would fit the bill, but Chicago could ultimately pass because he is a bit rough around the edges and the team could find a similar player in Round 2. In any case, we’ll continue to keep an eye on which pass rushers the Bears could have their eyes on as draft weekend approaches.