It’s time for the next step of the Chicago Bears’ offseason of talent acquisition: The 2020 NFL Draft. We’re going to look at some of the best prospects at various positions of interest leading up to the draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.
Today’s position: Tight ends
Currently on the Roster (2019 Pro Football Focus Grade):
- Jimmy Graham (58.0)
- Trey Burton (49.2)
- J.P. Holtz (66.9)
- Adam Shaheen (61.2)
- Ben Braunecker (55.7)
- Jesper Horsted (54.1)
- Eric Saubert (52.3)
- Demetrius Harris (45.3)
- Dax Raymond
- Darion Clark
BN’s Composite Ranking
Ranking prospects is difficult, in part, because no one publication has the same set of fundamentals or preferences. In an attempt to work through that noise, we’re using a composite ranking based on opinions from PFF, ESPN, CBS Sports, and Walter Football and adapting them to a points scale. The best of the top-10 prospects gets 10 points, the 10th ranked prospect gets 1, and prospects outside the top-10 get 0. From there, the prospects are ranked by total points.
Here’s how the tight ends stack up (points in parenthesis):
- Cole Kmet, Notre Dame (38)
- Adam Trautman, Dayton (36)
- Hunter Bryant, Washington (28)
- Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri (19)
- Brycen Hopkins, Purdue (15)
- Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic (14)
- Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt (tied) (13)
- Thaddeus Moss, LSU (tied) (13)
- Devin Asiasi, UCLA (11)
- Colby Parkinson, Stanford (10)
Best of the rest: Stephen Sullivan (LSU), Cheynne O’Grady (Arkansas), Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech), Jacob Breeland (Oregon), Mitchell Wilcox (South Florida)
Ignore the fact that the Bears have 10 tight ends on their current 90-player preseason roster. Alright, have you blocked that out? I hope so. Because even with 10 tight ends, the Bears still have a need.
Jimmy Graham is entering his age 34 season after two decline years in Green Bay. Trey Burton, Adam Shaheen, and Ben Braunecker are coming off season-ending injuries. Jesper Horsted and Eric Saubert were the last two tight ends called into action at season’s end because they needed bodies on the field. Demetrius Harris is strictly a blocking “Y” tight end. Dax Raymond isn’t even a year removed from being part of the draft process. Darion Clark was a college basketball player.
There are no long-term solutions in this group. Only short-term plug-in players and bridge pieces. At some point, the Bears need to identify, draft, and develop a tight end. The position’s importance in Matt Nagy’s offense is too much to ignore. It’s as simple as that.
Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:
It doesn’t look like a first-round tight end will emerge from this group, so everyone could be in play at some point in the draft for the Bears. Whether it’s Cole Kmet (Notre Dame) or Brycen Hopkins (Purdue) in the second round remains to be seen. But if it isn’t either of those prospects, then there appears to be a clump of players who could fit to be picked later in the draft.
While doing this exercise, I learned that 15 (!!!) players earned a top-10 positional prospect ranking from one of the draft analyst groups listed above.
The Bears Have Reportedly Met With…
- Jared Pinkney, Vanderbilt (Senior Bowl)
- Brycen Hopkins, Purdue (Senior Bowl, Scouting Combine, Video)
- Adam Trautman, Dayton (Senior Bowl)
- Dalton Keene, Virginia Tech (Scouting Combine)
If I Had to Pick One:
I am admittedly a sucker for prospects with NFL blood lines. So when I saw that Thaddeus Moss was entering the 2020 NFL Draft class, I figured he had a shot to land in this portion of our positional preview. And because I feel as if it might have been blasphemous to be intrigued by a tight end prospect named Adam who played his college ball at a small Ohio school that isn’t a football powerhouse, I figured leaning Moss was a better call anyway.
In addition to being the son of NFL Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss, Thaddeus played his college ball for the national champion LSU Tigers. Pro blood lines and a SEC pedigree are among the most intriguing things about Thaddeus Moss. But three nuggets in Moss’ NFL.com draft profile stand out most to me:
“Willing to get grimy as a run blocker”
“Treats run blocking with conviction”
“Tape study shows he’s actually more skilled as a run blocker”
That the younger Moss has two-way tight end potential puts him higher on my personal board than others might be comfortable with, but I am OK with that being the case. Modern NFL tight ends need to be able to block with authority and leak out into pass patterns. Otherwise, it will be easy for defenses to key in on particular offensive tendencies when certain tight ends and packages are in the game. Should Moss continue his development, he could be the type of hybrid tight end the Bears could deploy in a number of different ways.