The Chicago Bears don’t have a ton of roster needs heading into the 2019-2020 season, but that’s a good thing, because they don’t have a ton of obvious avenues to add to that roster, either – there’s not a lot of salary cap space in which to operate and they don’t have a pick in the first two rounds of the draft. They’ll have to be creative to round out the roster this offseason, and the success of that creativity might well dictate their success on the field.
But again, the Bears don’t have a ton of big needs. The team that won 12 games and the NFC North in 2018 en route to securing a home game in the playoffs will find themselves mostly in tact when the league calendar flips to 2019, but it doesn’t mean the same Bears that took the field against the Eagles on Wild-Card Weekend will be the same one that suits up in Week 1.
For the Bears to get back to the playoffs and advance deeper into the tournament next time around, GM Ryan Pace will need to use what he does have in the draft effectively.
Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski offers up the prospect each NFL team needs to target in the upcoming draft. From a Bears perspective, I found myself intrigued by Sobleski’s suggestion of Maryland defensive back Darnell Savage Jr.
Beyond having a name made for headlines, Savage is billed as flexible enough to fill the potential vacancies at safety or slot corner should Adrian Amos or Bryce Callahan not return. As far as I’m concerned, you couldn’t create a better draft prospect for the 2019 Bears.
Here’s part of what Sobleski had to say about the Maryland product: “Savage started three seasons at safety yet presents position flexibility after covering the slot on a regular basis. The 5’11”, 200-pound defensive back is heady in coverage and a more-than-willing tackler when asked to play in the alley.”
Savage displayed the attractive jack-of-all-trades traits as he came away with 52 tackles, 5.5 tackles-for-loss, and four interceptions last season en route to being named to the All-Big Ten second team in 2018. So while we don’t know exactly how new Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano will apply his principles as a game-caller to the talented Bears defense, doesn’t it seem like Savage would fit right in? A three-year starter in the Big Ten with big-game experience, coverage skills, and a willingness to tackle sounds like a possible plug-and-play prospect who can contribute immediately. Where do we sign up?
Well, Sobleski hints at the possibility that the Bears might need to move up in the draft to take him. WalterFootball.com has Savage ranked as the site’s 17th best draft-eligible safety at this point in the process and projects him to be taken between the third and fifth rounds.
Based on Pace’s history, there seems to be a knack for finding value players in the secondary where it’s least expected. The Bears plucked Amos (fifth-round pick, 2015) and Eddie Jackson (fourth-round pick, 2017) as late-round picks who quickly grew into Day 1 starters. And to a lesser extent, the team unearthed Bryce Callahan (undrafted free agent, 2015) and Cre’von LeBlanc (waiver claim, 2016) to take over the nickel in Vic Fangio’s defense. These findings are a testament to good scouting, drafting, and development, which the Bears need to continue in order for their success to keep rolling along.