Don’t get it twisted, my friends. Drafting Justin Fields is a big freaking deal. And even though I’m still riding the wave in the wake of the trade and selection, I know that Ryan Pace’s job isn’t done. Because while drafting Fields is a first step toward rebuilding the Bears, the team still has needs throughout the roster.
If Chicago’s front office has learned its lesson from prior mistakes, it will double down on backing up the Fields pick by bolstering positions of need elsewhere. With that being said, let’s discuss what Pace might be looking for in prospects who might be high on his board and circle who could be on the Bears’ wish list.
Best available tackles: Teven Jenkins (Oklahoma State), Dillon Radunz (North Dakota State), Jalen Mayfield (Michigan), Liam Eichenberg (Notre Dame), Samuel Cosmi (Texas), Walker Little (Stanford)
Best available interior linemen: Creed Humphrey (Oklahoma), Landon Dickerson (Alabama), Wyatt Davis (Ohio State), Quinn Meinerz (Wisconsin-Whitewater), Aaron Banks (Notre Dame), Trey Smith (Tennessee), Josh Myers (Ohio State), Kendrick Green (Illinois), Ben Cleveland (Georgia)
I was surprised at how few offensive linemen went off the board in Round 1. But to me, that just means the Bears have ample opportunities to add multiple linemen in Day 2. In fact, I’d go as far as suggesting to execute a trade to add a Day 2 pick in order to capitalize on the volume of intriguing offensive line options. For what it’s worth, in two drafts in which Pace has traded up to take a player in Round 1, he has followed with a trade back in Round 2. Let’s keep that in mind as we roll toward opening this round of picks.
There are so many quality linemen available, I’d be willing to go out on a limb and say there’s really no wrong way to go here. Six of our top-10 tackle prospects remain on the board. And all but one of our top-10 interior offensive line prospects remain. This doesn’t even take into consideration the 10 other offensive line prospects who received top-10 consideration from the publications we used to compile our composite rankings.
History suggests Pace values versatility in his Day 2 offensive line picks. I’ll point to Cody Whitehair and James Daniels as prospects with prior experience at multiple positions before being drafted by Chicago in 2016 and 2018, respectively. With that in mind, players such as Teven Jenkins (right/left tackle), Jalen Mayfield (right/left tackle), Kendrick Green (center/left guard), and Trey Smith (left tackle/right guard) should be high on the watch list.
Best available: Terrace Marshall Jr. (LSU), Rondale Moore (Purdue), Elijah Moore (Ole Miss), Dyami Brown (North Carolina), Tutu Atwell (Louisville
Based on our BN Composite Ranking for prospects, five top-10 receiver prospects are still available entering Day 2. That’s good news for a Bears team that should be targeting pass-catchers with either of Day 2 pick. The best of the bunch might be Terrace Marshall Jr., Elijah Moore, or Rondale Moore. Each snagged recognition as a top-5 receiver prospect from the four publications we used to compile our rankings. For example, Marshall was a top-5 prospect at ESPN and The Draft Network, as well as our WR5. Meanwhile, ESPN listed Elijah Moore as its WR5. And finally, Rondale Moore was Pro Football Network’s WR5. Landing any of those prospects would make for a nice addition to Matt Nagy’s offense.
If Pace tabs a receiver on Day 2, it’s likely he’ll be looking for a playmaker whose speed and route-running ability stand out as plus traits. Nagy’s offense requires discipline from receivers to run sharp routes. You can see that in how things work well when players such as Allen Robinson II – one of the crispiest route-runners in the game – shake defenders and get to their spots.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) May 3, 2020
The addition of a receiver with speed is also high on the priority list. Ideally, someone who can take the top off a defense would be a fit here. Nagy’s offense has shown it can scheme players open deep from time to time. Look no further than Darnell Mooney for how it’s done.
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) October 28, 2020
Best available cornerbacks: Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State), Kelvin Joseph (Kentucky), Tyson Campbell (Georgia), Aaron Robinson (UCF), Ifeatu Melifonwu (Syracuse), Elijah Molden (Washington)
Best available safeties: Trevon Moehrig (TCU) and everyone else on our top-10 safeties list is available.
It’s not that I want to ignore needs on the defensive side of the ball. But I wouldn’t mind kicking the can down the road a bit. Chicago could come away with a great value pick if it shows patience in drafting a defensive back. But if Pace insists on alternating offensive and defensive picks, then it’s reassuring that plenty of prospects are available.
Safety Trevon Moehrig (TCU) is the best defensive back available. Seeing someone with a perfect score on our composite rankings still on the board would make me re-consider using the Bears’ first Day 2 pick on an offensive player. And I suppose an argument exists for picking up a top-5 cornerback prospect such as Asante Samuel Jr. (Florida State).
As for what the Bears tend to look for here, it’s physicality and ball skills. When I think of draft picks who had those traits, safety Adrian Amos and cornerback Jaylon Johnson come to mind.
All in all, Chicago seems to have Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft right where it wants…