Finding Potential Bears Targets and Fits Among the NFL Draft's Best Linebackers

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Finding Potential Bears Targets and Fits Among the NFL Draft’s Best Linebackers

Chicago Bears

It’s time for the next step of the Chicago Bears’ offseason of talent acquisition: The 2019 NFL Draft. We’re going to look at some of the best prospects at various positions of interest leading up to the draft.

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Need: Low

Currently on the Roster (2018 Pro Football Focus Grade):

  • Danny Trevathan (73.7)
  • Roquan Smith (67.4)
  • Joel Iyegbuniwe (63.8)
  • Nick Kwiatkoski (56.1)
  • Josh Woods

Pro Football Focus’ Top-5 Available Linebacker Prospects:

  1. Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame
  2. Blake Cashman, Minnesota
  3. Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
  4. Vosean Joseph, Florida
  5. Ben Burr-Kirven, Washington

Team Fit

Roquan Smith is the present (and future) at the position, but who will line up next to him moving forward is a bit up in the air. Danny Trevathan is a glue guy in the middle of the defense, while Nick Kwiatkoski has proven to be a versatile fill-in when called upon. But both players are free agents after the season. Joel Iyiegbuniwe has upside and excelled as a special teams ace as a rookie, but he played just 24 defensive snaps in 2018. Inside linebacker is a position Bears fans hold to a high standard, and everyone in the organization knows it. But with needs elsewhere, Chicago is unlikely to use one of its early mid-round picks at that position.

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

Any number of linebacker prospects could be on the board whenever the time for picking comes, it’s just that the position isn’t a premier need. Then again, the Bears have drafted fourth-round linebackers in two of the last three drafts. There must be something about that spot where the organization sees value in that particular position.

The Bears Have Reportedly Met With…

Malik Fountain, Central Michigan; Rickey Neal, Northern Iowa; Richard Olekanma, Toledo

If I Had to Pick One:

We previously discussed Sutton Smith (Northern Illinois) as an ideal late-round draft target for the Bears. Smith starred for the Huskies as a pass-rusher, collecting 29 sacks and 56.5 tackles-for-loss over the last two seasons, but doesn’t have the desired size of a tradition pass-rusher. Because of that, it’s likely that Sutton will have to move inside in order to stick in the NFL. A player capable of putting up high-end production – no matter his school’s conference affiliation – should be able to find a home in the league. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to use a seventh-round selection on being the team that develops Smith at the next level.

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)


Author: Luis Medina

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