Getting to Know the NFL Draft’s Top LB Prospects, Potential Bears Targets, and Fits

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Getting to Know the NFL Draft’s Top LB Prospects, Potential Bears Targets, and Fits

Chicago Bears

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.

Previous: Quarterback, Running back, Wide receiver, Tight end, Offensive line, Defensive line/interior defender, Edge defender/pass rusher

Today: Linebacker

Need: Medium-high

Currently on the Roster (2017 Pro Football Focus Grade):

  • Danny Trevathan (84.7)
  • Nick Kwiatkoski (82.3)
  • John Timu (74.5)
  • Jonathan Anderson (38.0)

Pro Football Focus’ Top-5 Prospects:

  1. Roquan Smith, Georgia
  2. Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
  3. Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
  4. Rashaan Evans, Alabama
  5. Skai Moore, South Carolina

Best of the Rest: Josey Jewell, Iowa; Shaquem Griffin, UCF; Jerome Baker, Ohio State; Malik Jefferson, Texas;  Darius Leonard, South Carolina State

Team Fit

The Bears don’t have a bigger need at any position more than the one at outside linebacker/edge defender/pass rusher. Leonard Floyd and Sam Acho are returning starters, while Aaron Lynch joins the team on what is essentially a one-year prove it deal. Beyond that, the depth is limited and so is the upside. Chicago needs a difference-maker at this position in the worst way.

Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:

There’s a case to be made for either Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds being off the board when the Bears go on the clock with the eighth pick. Both players could be in play for the Indianapolis Colts, who have the sixth pick in the draft and might have an eye for improving the second level of their defense. It would be a surprise if both were gone before it’s Chicago’s time to choose.

The Bears Have Reportedly Met With…

Nick Horne, Eastern Illinois; Darius Leonard, South Carolina State; Roquan Smith, Georgia

If I Had to Pick One:

The toughest decision the Bears might face on Day 1 of the draft could come down to choosing between Georgia’s Roquan Smith and Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds. Smith is a polished player with speed to burn, a skilled tackler with good instincts, and a highly regarded football IQ. Edmunds has elite size and speed, plus the desired versatility to play inside a majority of the time and occasionally as a pass-rusher. Because of his upside and versatility, I find myself leaning toward Edmunds.

(Photo by Michael Shroyer/Getty Images)

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.