The Chicago Bears’ offseason of talent acquisition has one more – very important step: The 2018 NFL Draft.
After GM Ryan Pace made moves to add Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Trey Burton, Aaron Lynch, and others in free agency, the organization’s focus shifts to adding more young talent to the roster through the draft.
Despite an active free agency period, the Bears still have many needs. We’re going to look at some of the best prospects at various positions of interest leading up to the draft.
Today: Defensive line/interior defender
Currently on the Roster (2017 Pro Football Focus Grade):
- Akiem Hicks (87.1)
- Eddie Goldman (76.3)
- Jonathan Bullard (75.8)
- John Jenkins (75.4)
- Roy Robertson-Harris (50.0)
- Did not play in 2017: Nick Williams
Pro Football Focus’ Top-5 Prospects:
- Maurice Hurst, Michigan
- Vita Vea, Washington
- Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
- Taven Bryan, Florida
- RJ McIntosh, Miami (Fla.)
Best of the Rest: Tim Settle, Virginia Tech; Derrick Nnadi, Florida State; B.J. Hill, North Carolina State; Poona Ford, Texas; Da’Shawn Hand, Alabama
The Bears don’t appear to have a need along the defensive line on the surface, but there’s always more than what meets the eye. Jonathan Bullard is lined up to take over for Mitch Unrein, while Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman are set to resume their roles as the team’s top defensive linemen. Beyond that, the depth is minimal. John Jenkins returns as the team’s reserve nose tackle, while Roy Robertson-Harris is behind Bullard on the depth chart. If either of those two players takes a step back or someone gets injured, a strength could turn into a position with question marks.
Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:
Vita Vea would represent an outside-the-box pick in the top-10, though it would appear drafting him No. 8 would be a reach. He popped up as a possibility in an early April mock draft. Vea’s combination of size, power, and speed make him a prospect with upside.
The Bears Have Reportedly Met With…
Steve Richardson, Minnesota; Vita Vea, Washington
If I Had to Pick One:
North Carolina State’s B.J. Hill has the size (6-3, 311 pounds), but was an inconsistent performer for the Wolfpack. Hill could be available in the fourth round and put in a role where he is given time to grow as a rotation player behind Goldman and Jenkins before earning his way to bigger and better things.