In most years, a team would relish the opportunity to pick a top-3 talent in the draft while standing pat with the No. 8 pick.
However, the 2018 NFL Draft doesn’t look like “most” years.
ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson as the third-highest-ranked prospect in his latest big board and position rankings. And as we all know by now, the Chicago Bears have quite the need along the offensive line, specifically at left guard after not picking up the third-year option on Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton.
So, GM Ryan Pace should channel his inner Taylor Gabriel or Tarik Cohen to turn in his team’s draft card as fast as he can if Nelson is there when the Bears pick eighth … right?
“If you’re picking eighth and you get one of the [three best] players in the draft, you’re ecstatic,” Kiper said while on a conference call with reporters, according to Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times. “Plus he fills a need. Plus he maybe can play tackle. And he’s helping your quarterback, [Mitchell] Trubisky – that inside pressure is the toughest thing on any quarterback. I don’t know how you pass on Nelson if he’s there.”
Top interior line talent has dropped in the draft before, but Kiper doesn’t see it happening with Nelson, a player the long-time ESPN pundit has heard is viewed as the draft’s best player.
Kiper has four quarterbacks going off the board in the first five picks, which would push a top-five non-quarterback prospect into the Bears’ laps. But it would also leave Pace and the front office with a tough decision to make.
Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith ranks fourth overall on Kiper’s prospect hot sheet, and he would be among the players the Bears would pass on in order to take Nelson. Other top defensive studs such as Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Florida State safety Derwin James, Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, and Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea are among the highest-ranked players at their respective positions the Bears would be looking past to draft Nelson. That’s not going to be an easy decision to make by any stretch.
Picking a top-3 talent while drafting in the back-end of the top-10 should be viewed as a steal. But because of traditional position rankings, it won’t be. But if Nelson lives up to the hype and helps Trubisky do the same, then there probably won’t be much beef with taking an interior lineman at that point in the draft.
And if he doesn’t, then I have the feeling the Bears will have bigger issues on their hands anyway.