Combine Week kicked off today. And even though the Bears aren’t in the market for a high-profile draft splash, there is still plenty to sort through as we make our way to April.
For example …
- Drafting a kicker early is risky business:
Attn #Bears: NFL Network's @MoveTheSticks on drafting a kicker: "I wouldn't wanna use a high resource on a placekicker." Said Day 3 might be a different story. Said Roberto Aguayo, who flamed out after being picked 59th overall, might have spooked teams.
— Patrick Finley (@patrickfinley) February 25, 2019
- I totally understand that Bears fans are so ready to move on from Cody Parkey that they’re willing to see their team select a kicker as soon as possible. Believe me, I get it. I’m there with you. But for GM Ryan Pace, that would mean taking a kicker with the 87th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. I’m not so comfortable with that idea, and I can’t imagine you are either. There are obvious risks that come with drafting a kicker that early. Then again, there is a risk-reward calculus that comes with every pick. I suppose one could make a case for Pace plucking a kicker in the third round if the Bears had no other needs entering draft weekend. But because there’s depth to be added everywhere at any given moment, taking a kicker at the end of Round 3 doesn’t feel like the best way to use that particular selection.
- This post about what kickers and punters do at the Combine was written at this time last year by Alex Martin Smith and shared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, but it’s worth re-visiting. Earlier in the offseason, we took a look at which specialists were attending the Combine. It’s good to have an idea of who is out there because, in addition to Parkey being on his way out, punter Pat O’Donnell is an unrestricted free agent and long snapper Patrick Scales is a restricted free agent. It’s possible (though, I would guess unlikely) that the Bears would be replacing three specialists from last year’s team. Talk about turnover.
- So what should the Bears do with that third-round pick? SBNation’s Dan Kadar sends Iowa safety Amani Hooker to Chicago with the No. 87 pick in the 2019 draft. Hooker did a bit of everything for the Hawkeyes last year, picking up 65 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss, four interceptions, seven passes defended, and a sack. That kind of playmaking versatility figures to translate well to the next level. And considering the Bears’ potential needs at the position, nabbing Hooker in the third-round looks like a good value on paper.
- Again, it’s not like the Bears have a ton of draft capital to work with:
Distribution of the 2019 NFL Draft picks as of right now (incl. the Flacco trade although it is not official yet).
I calculated the value of all draft picks per team using the Jimmy Johnson & Chase Stuart value charts.
Sorted by the @fbgchase model 👍🏼
► https://t.co/0QtiAYXqyl pic.twitter.com/flBcE1sxDg
— René Bugner (@RNBWCV) February 25, 2019
- The Bears rank dead last in draft capital, while the Raiders rank first. But would you rather have Khalil Mack for the prime of his career during a Bears competitive window or draft capital? Ideally, you could have both because teams like the Patriots and Colts both rank in the top third in the league in draft capital after playoff seasons. Maybe the Bears should angle for more compensatory picks. Of course, for that to happen, they’ll need to draft better and not be so reliant on free agency. Remember, to accrue compensatory picks in the draft, a team has to lose more free agents than it signs. Perhaps that happens next year if the Bears allow Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos to walk away. Then again, it’s tough to imagine the team letting those guys go without a fight for the sake of adding draft picks.
- It’s also worth noting that it’s probably not a coincidence that the two other teams who traded away their 2019 first-round picks – the Cowboys and Saints – rank 30th and 31st in available draft capital. I’d be curious to see how many Saints and Cowboys fans would give up a playoff appearance to receive a first-round pick.
- So what are the Raiders doing with these picks? Ryan Wilson’s latest mock draft at CBS Sports has them taking Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, South Carolina receiver Deebo Samuel, and Michigan linebacker Devin Bush with their first-round picks. That’s certainly one way to draft your way out of a hole you’ve created.
- Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski ranks the top-50 players attending the Combine in Indianapolis. Among them are some players I believe could fall to the Bears in the third round if things shake out in a certain way. That group includes Wisconsin offensive lineman Michael Deiter, Temple cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, and Iowa State receiver Hakeem Butler. Of course, things could change rather quickly. For example, Washington State tackle Andre Dillard was pegged to be a middle-round pick who could jump onto the Bears’ radar back in January. But after a stellar showing at the Senior Bowl has elevated his stock and moved him into Sobleski’s top-20 prospects at the Combine.
- Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network has an updated top-50 prospects list, which features some names Bears fans are already growing accustomed to seeing connected to them during the mock draft portion of the offseason. Florida Atlantic running back Devin Singletary (43), Alabama State tackle Tytus Howard, and Iowa State running back David Montgomery (50) make the cut and are worth keeping an eye on. Lists like these will change. But if the Bears can land a top-50 prospect with the No. 87 pick, that would be a winning scenario.