All the homework is done and the Bears are just left waiting to see who is there for them to pick. By now, they have a list of players they think might be available and have them ranked on their board, but nobody has access to that list outside of John Fox and Ryan Pace. So, here’s my best guess.
First, a few things I considered:
• The best player available thing is just GM talk. They look at positions of need and this list will reflect that.
• I won’t pretend to be a scout, so my “scouting reports” are based heavily on things actual scouts (current and former) have said. I do a ton of research on the draft prospects and put more weight on what those who do the job for a living say than the guy with 1,563 Twitter followers.
• That said, I have watched every single one of these players and every one of the projected first round picks and then some so my opinion is thrown in the mix with what the actual experts have said. I’m the GM, they are my scouts.
• The length thing is very, very real. I’ve already presented data from Fangio and Fox, but the guy who makes the call is right with them. No team Ryan Pace has been involved with has drafted a defensive lineman or edge player with arms less than 33 inches long since 2008. The average length of Pace, Fox and Fangio guys is a hair over 34 inches. That’s average. Combined, they have drafted two players with arms shorter than 33 inches. That’s two out of 21. Unlike my last big board, I’m not going to completely take them out, but they’ll be ranked appropriately.
• I subtracted some consensus top-10 picks including Laremy Tunsil, Joey Bosa, Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey. If any of them fall, assume the Bears will grab them. I went 10 deep in case of a trade back and the likelihood that some of the first guys on the list aren’t available.
Without further adieu…
Bears Big Board
1. DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon. Thought about subtracting him because it’s unlikely he’ll reach 11, but he’d be a perfect fit. The NFL out-lawing chop blocks makes him even more valuable because his height is no longer a disadvantage when rushing inside.
2. Emmanuel Ogbah, Edge, Oklahoma State. Scouting report reads almost identical to Aldon Smith’s. When is the last time a guy with Ogbah’s combination of size, athleticism and production didn’t end up being really good? The Bears reportedly visited with him twice.
3. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. Dropped a little bit because I don’t think he’s an ideal compliment to what the Bears already have. They like Jeremy Langford and want to see Langford grow. Elliott is too similar to Langford and I think the Bears would rather add a bigger, power back. Or a small, quick back.
4. Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida. Many consider him to be the best corner in the draft. I’m not sure if he has the length the Bears would like, but I could see him moving to safety or playing in the slot. Vic Fangio hasn’t historically valued cornerbacks, but I’ve been told not to put too much stock into that.
5. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame. Some were down after Stanley because he looked like poop at the combine. Turns out he was injured and looked much better at his Pro Day. Charles Leno is fine, they can win with Leno, but he’s not a franchise left tackle Stanley could make their offensive line elite. That said, the Bears have a QB who is elite at avoiding sacks and making big plays down the field, do they need to invest that much in the offensive line?
6. A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama. Draft Twitter hates him because he didn’t have a good combine, but Draft Twitter hated Eddie Goldman too. Robinson would immediately anchor the Bears run defense and collapse the pocket with Goldman. Robinson is a better prospect than Danny Shelton, who went 12th last year.
7. Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson. Has the size and length the Bears like. Was very productive. I consider him a defensive end, not a linebacker for the Bears.
8. William Jackson III, CB, Houston. WJIII has ideal measurable and made a ton of plays at Houston.
9. Shaq Lawson, Edge, Clemson. Would be an exception to the rule when it comes to length, with arms measuring just under 33 inches. Very strong and a very good athlete.
10. Darron Lee, S, Ohio State. The Bears visited with Lee even after the free agency period and my thinking is he just might be a safety in their eyes. Lee played deep a lot at Ohio State and really avoids contact, which makes him a poor fit in any team’s front seven. But he excels at accelerating and hitting once he has located his target. Fangio had Whitner in San Francisco and Fox had T.J. Ward in Denver, Lee isn’t all that different from them.