Welcome back to uh, football season? With the uncertainty of COVID 19’s impact on the logistical aspects of the upcoming NFL season (not to mention everyone’s life), this league year is off to the most unique start any of us have ever seen. I’m not going to wax poetic about how this unique situation is allowing teams to manipulate players with the rescinding of contracts that were agreed upon in principle, my condolences to Leonard Floyd.
I’m a big fan of the NFL Draft, mostly because a majority of my Bears fandom since my birth in 1986 has found the Bears drafting fairly high in the first round. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years reading mocks, dreaming of the perfect draft scenarios that would allow the team to select whoever it was that I had fallen in love with during the process. Of course, I am almost always wrong and I’d like to once more extend my condolences to Leonard Floyd.
The last two seasons, however, I haven’t been as in love with the draft because I have no idea how to scout or watch tape on players in the top 50, compared to the top 15. The national media doesn’t spend as much time looking at the differences between Jeremy Chinn and Antoine Winfield Jr as they did looking at the differences between Malik Hooker and Jamal Adams, the ladder comparison being irrelevant since the Bears would end up drafting our savior Eddie Jackson in the 4th. However, I’ve been doing some research on a lot of the players being mocked to the Bears and I think I’ve got some takes on who might be available in round two.
This year, like last year, the Bears are without a first round pick. However, unlike last year, the Bears are in a unique position, if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly. I have a feeling that lots of teams will be putting forth effort to compile picks for next year’s draft. With the pandemic shutting down various pro days and private workouts, teams are going into the later rounds with less of a feel for those late round gems simply due to a lack of exposure. I believe the Bears can use this to their advantage.
Ryan Pace never stays put in the draft, and he has to know how hesitant other teams will be to invest capital into players they haven’t seen personally. Is this the time to try to move up with some of those later round picks? Currently, the Bears hold picks 43, 50, 140, 163, 196, 200, 226, and 233. I believe that they can maximize their picks by moving up and sacrificing some of next year’s mid to late round draft capital. I keep hearing about the quality of depth in this draft, and I would be thrilled if the Bears maneuvered their way into getting 5 picks in the top 150.
I have confidence in Pace’s ability to find gold in the later rounds of the draft, but if you’re like me and you think the Bears are 3-4 impact players away from seriously competing for a championship, it might be worth it to sacrifice quantity for perceived quality. If the Bears find 3 above average starters in this draft, the value of next year’s sacrificed picks also goes down by way of being lower in the draft order.
This week, I’ll be looking at several of the players being mocked to the Bears at 43 or 50, in the hopes that not only do the Bears stay put, but they land two instant contributors and those players fill those spots admirably. The players we’re going to take a look at will be:
Xavier McKinney (S, Alabama)
Antoine Winfield Jr (S, Minnesota)
Lloyd Cushenberry (IOL, LSU)
Brandon Aiyuk (WR, Arizona)
Jaylen Reagor (WR, TCU)
Cesar Ruiz (OL, Michigan)
Jeremy Chinn (S, SIU)
Michael Pittman (WR, USC)
We’ll break them up into two different articles, one looking at offense and one looking at defense. On a side note: it’s good to be back and I hope you and yours are safe in this crazy ass time.