As the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings prepare for their respective Divisional Round playoff showdowns this weekend, we are left to figure out what the next move is for a Chicago Bears team that didn’t live up to its preseason promise.
And while free agency is going to be an area where some landscape-shifting moves can take place, the real team-building comes by successfully nailing the NFL Draft. So with that in mind, now is the time to get a head start on the possible prospects who could be available in the upcoming draft and lend a hand upon arrival.
Recently, I found myself down a rabbit hole thumbing through Dane Brugler’s updated top-100 NFL Draft Board over at The Athletic.
There is an obvious focus on finding quarterback help this offseason, and rightfully so. Unfortunately, the Bears aren’t in a position to find a top-tier replacement because they aren’t sitting at the top of the draft. But at least the top-end of this class of draft-eligible prospects appears to be loaded at a variety of other positions of need on Chicago’s checklist.
Let’s do a quick rundown here.
There are 11 offensive tackles who crack Brugler’s top-100. So while the Bears don’t have a clear path toward cutting ties with left tackle Charles Leno Jr. or right tackle Bobby Massie in a way that isn’t damaging to their salary cap situation, it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have their eyes on possible replacements. And if they go this route, it would mark a change in draft philosophy, as the Bears have drafted just one offensive tackle (Tayo Fabuluje) since GM Ryan Pace was hired in 2015.
If Pace feels it necessary to bring on some help opposite Khalil Mack, it is worth knowing there are 14 edge defenders ranked among Brugler’s 100 best prospects. And all of them are within the top-80. That’s welcome news. This draft class looks to be particularly deep at this position, with 11 edge rushers checking in among the top-60, including five in the general vicinity of where the Bears will be picking. Ain’t that convenient?
Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller have striating jobs locked down at wide receiver. Beyond that, the position group is filled with question-marks. In other years, the need at receiver would be concerning. But not this year. This edition of Brugler’s big board includes 18 wide receivers in the top-100. Nine of those receiver prospects land among Brugler’s top 42 players. The Bears don’t have a pick until No. 43 (thanks, Raiders!), but it is conceivable that one (if not several) of those top receiver prospects could be available when Chicago goes on the clock with the first of its two second-round selections.
And then there are the quarterbacks. Long have we heard about there being five top-50 draft-worthy quarterbacks in this class. And it turns out, that number was hit right on the head by Brugler’s count.
There are 5 quarterbacks within the first 50 players on Brugler’s big board.
So while you can wave goodbye to the dreams of Joe Burrow and Tua Tagovailoa saving the day in Chicago, there is one quarterback who stands out as someone who could be on the Bears’ radar. Washington’s Jacob Eason is QB5 on Brugler’s board, and his 46th overall prospect. And here’s what he had to write about him: “Eason is a challenging evaluation because it is tough to gauge where he is in regards to his mental development. He has outstanding size and a power arm to put the ball anywhere he wants on the field, but his slow feet and struggles vs. pressure are an anchor on his draft grade.”
Without diving too deep into Brugler’s description of Eason, just know these are the types of projects the Bears are going to be dealing with should they target a second-round quarterback to draft. So with that in mind, maybe the Bears are better off using the draft to fill in spots around the gridiron. In any case, give Brugler’s big board a browse and start highlighting your favorite prospects now. There are 103 days until the 2020 NFL Draft.