The 2021 NFL Draft is fast approaching. And it’s a big one for GM Ryan Pace, who enters the final year of the extension he signed in 2018. The same can be said for Head Coach Matt Nagy, the NFL Coach of the Year for his efforts in 2018, who aims to fix an offense that has been spinning its wheels since the start of 2019. Starting today, we’re looking at some of the best prospects at various positions leading up to the Draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.
Today: Defensive linemen and pass rushers
Need: Much like there is no such thing as having too much pitching, there is no such thing as having too many pass-rushers.
Currently on the Roster (2020 PFF Grade):
EDGE: Khalil Mack (92.5), Robert Quinn (61.6), James Vaughters (68.0), Jeremiah Attaochu (62.5), Trevis Gipson (46.6), Ledarius Mack (N/A), LeCale London (N/A)
DL: Akiem Hicks (65.2), Mario Edwards (90.1), Bilal Nichols (71.4), Eddie Goldman (N/A), Angelo Blackson (44.1),
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, The Draft Network, and Pro Football Network 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 they stack up (points in parenthesis):
1. Kwity Paye, Michigan (40)
2. Jaelan Phillips, Miami (Fla.) (34)
3. Azeez Ojulari, Georgia (32)
4. Jayson Oweh, Penn State (23)
5. Gregory Rousseau, Miami (Fla.) (22)
6. Carlos Basham Jr., Wake Forest (17)
7. Ronnie Perkins, Oklahoma (15)
8. Joe Tryon, Washington (14)
9. Joseph Ossai, Texas (8)
10. Payton Turner, Houston (3)
Best of the rest: Janarius Robinson (Florida State), Patrick Jones (Pittsburgh), Quincy Roche Miami, Fla.), Daelin Hayes (Notre Dame), Chris Rumph II (Duke)
1. Christian Barmore, Alabama (38)
2. Levi Onwuzurike, Washington (36)
3. Milton Williams, Louisiana Tech (30)
4. Alim McNeil, North Carolina State (26)
5. Tommy Gogiai, Ohio State (20)
6. Daviyon Nixon, Iowa (19)
7. Osa Odighizuwa, UCLA (12)
7. Jay Tufele, USC (12)
9. Tyler Shelvin, LSU (9)
10. Marvin Wilson, Florida State (6)
10. Marlon Tuipulotu, USC (6)
Best of the rest: Tedarrell Slaton (Florida)
This isn’t a position desperately seeking change, but it’s a spot where the Bears should be seeking depth with upside. Ideally, this is a position group Chicago addresses with a late-round find in the mold of Bilal Nichols. The perfect fit here is someone who can grow into a rotation player as a rookie, then contribute as a starter by Year 2. Between Akiem Hicks and Nichols being in the final years of their respective deals, Robert Quinn’s struggles in Year 1 with the Bears, and Khalil Mack’s maintenance years as he enters his 30s, the Bears could add along the defensive line and at pass-rusher without me batting an eye.
Most Likely to be Available When Bears Are on the Clock:
I don’t expect the Bears to attack either position group early. And because of Bilal Nichols’ success, I think Chicago could go to the well again with a versatile defensive linemen from a smaller school with upside. Perhaps Tarron Jackson (Costal Carolina) makes sense as a prospect target.
Chris Rumph II is a fascinating edge defender prospect. There is some versatility and upside in his game. His dad also happens to be the Bears’ new Defensive Line Coach.
If I Had to Pick One:
I’m a sucker for a good story. So if I had to pick any defensive line prospect for the Bears, I’d roll with Chris Rumph II. There isn’t an expectation that he’ll be picked early, so perhaps there will be middle-round value on a coach’s kid with pass-rushing skills and an ability to set the edge as a run defender. Besides, who *DOESN’T* love a good father-son football story?