The Chicago Bears are a team with needs.
Plenty of them.
And even with the first few waves of free agency in the rear-view mirror, the Bears still have holes to fill on their roster. To be clear, they aren’t alone. But at a time when GM Ryan Pace and Head Coach Matt Nagy figure to be working to keep their respective gigs, we haven’t seen the Bears connect on a priority target. Unfortunately, that’s left the Bears fan community with a bitter taste in its collective mouth.
But here’s the good news: The 2021 NFL Draft is less than a month away.
Do you want more good news? Cool. Let me hit you with it. The Bears have eight picks in the upcoming draft, including their selections in the first and second round for the first time since 2018. That means Chicago should have ample opportunity to improve its roster at multiple levels.
Craving even more good news? Alright, I’ll share. NFL Network Draft/college prospect guru Daniel Jeremiah has a newly released list of top-50 prospects. And it is LOADED with players who could fit needs:
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 29, 2021
Think the Bears should prioritize the offensive line? Nine prospects land in Jeremiah’s top-50, including seven offensive tackles. Rashawn Slater (Northwestern) checks in as OT1 and Jermiah’s No. 9 overall prospect. If you’ll recall, the Bears were out in full force for Slater’s Pro Day earlier in March. Meanwhile, Alijah Vera-Tucker (USC) is the highest-ranked interior lineman to make the cut. Vera-Tucker is a good one, though. He checks in as Jeremiah’s 15th overall prospect.
Linemen who could be in line for the Bears to take with one of their first two picks include Michigan’s Jalen Mayfield (27th overall), Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins (34th), Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw (36th), Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg (41st), Wisconsin-Whitewater’s Quinn Meinerz, and North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz (47th).
There are seven cornerbacks in Jeremiah’s top-50, four of which come in as top-30 prospects. In other words, there are four cornerbacks who essentially have first-round grades. Patrick Surtain II (Alabama) is at the top of the list and is Jeremiah’s 10th ranked prospect. Following Surtain II among those who earned top-30 prospect status are Jaycee Horn (South Carolina, 16th), Caleb Fairley (Virginia Tech, 17th), and Greg Newsome II (Northwestern, 28th). This leaves Kentucky’s Kelvin Joseph (45th) and Washington’s Elijah Molden (49th) on the outside-looking-in, but still among the premier cornerback prospects.
Considering how much receiver talent this draft class has, I’m a bit surprised only seven make the top-50. Then again, that there are seven receivers in this group says a lot about the incoming talent. The Bears don’t figure to be in a position to take either of Alabama’s studs (Jaylen Waddle, DeVonta Smith) or WR1 Ja’Marr Chase (LSU), but they won’t leave the first-round empty handed if they seek a talented receiver with that first pick. Florida’s Kadarius Toney (who we discussed at length here), LSU’s Terrace Marshall, Ole Miss’ Elijah Moore, and Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman are other headliners at the position with top-50 status.
And then there are the signal callers. Navigating quarterback situation is tricky, but worth digging into for all the obvious reasons. Trevor Lawrence (1st), Zach Wilson (4th), Trey Lance (7th), and Justin Fields (8th) are the top four quarterbacks in this class. And if any are available starting at pick No. 4, the Bears should be willing to risk it all for one of those premier talents. As for Mac Jones, he comes in as QB5 and 32nd among overall prospects. There’s been plenty of recent buzz that Jones could go early in the first round. However, if Jones slides to where Chicago’s spot in the Draft, I don’t think I’d be too upset if he was the pick.