Matt Nagy’s running back usage (especially late in the year) and rumors of the team lingering on the periphery of the Le’Veon Bell sweepstakes provide reasons to believe the Bears are searching for help in the running back department.
With that in mind, NFL Network draft guru Daniel Jeremiah offered up a pair running backs who could be there for the Bears on draft weekend and added to Chicago’s backfield before next season: Penn State’s Miles Sanders and Stanford’s Bryce Love.
Both players figure to be connected to the Bears from now until the time they are drafted, and for good reason. Each provides a unique skill set that could help round out the Bears’ running backs room and could be around by the time the Bears go on the clock. As for a desirability factor, well, clearly, both have done enough to merit consideration from Jeremiah.
We discussed Sanders as a possibility in earlier posts here and here, and there’s a lot to like about the Penn State running back – for one, he doesn’t have the wear-and-tear other rushers do, because he spent two years behind Saquon Barkely on the Nittany Lions’ depth chart before breaking out with a big 2018 season. It’s entirely possible – of course and unfortunately – that Sanders has a big-time showing in pre-draft workouts and gets dragged out of the Bears picking window, but the feeling for now is that the middle rounds of the draft are his most likely landing spot.
Love isn’t someone we have discussed much (yet), in part because he suffered a season-ending ACL injury in his final game at Stanford. Prior to that, however, Love seemed destined to be a top running back prospect after finishing as the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Baker Mayfield in 2017. Jeremiah believes Love could be a bargain late-round draft pick because of his injury status, which is something a team like the Bears (without high draft picks) should be itching to jump on given their limitations (indeed, they’ve done it before with Eddie Jackson). And if Love can recapture the magic that made him a collegiate star in 2017 at the pro level, then he’d be a steal no matter where he was taken.
To be clear, there there isn’t a desperate need at the top of the position group. And yet, there has been ample smoke regarding a need at the position. The Bears’ running back tandem of Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen combined for 2,249 scrimmage yards and 17 touchdowns last year. At the peak of their powers, the two provided a thunder-and-lightning combo that was difficult for defenses to stop. But wouldn’t it be nice to have one more element to throw at opposing defenses?
Let’s keep our eyes and ears open to some draft weekend possibilities who could be fits for Chicago’s evolving rushing attack.