The Bears almost certainly have their own big board made up and, while we have no idea who is on it or where they land, this is my best guess.
First, a few things I considered:
• Every GM says they’ll take the best player available and I’m sure they intend to do just that. But in their ideal world the best player available would also fill a need. So, yes, need was a priority.
• I don’t pretend to be a scout, so most of these ranks are based on consensus combined with what I know about what the Bears prefer.
• The Bears prefer players with long arms. Look at pretty much every player they have brought in. Arm length is a big deal to them. Players who might be rated highly, but would have to be exceptions for the Bears include Shaq Lawson and Vernon Hargreaves. Maybe they’d make an exception for either of those players but I’m not betting on it.
• Ryan Pace always talks about explosive playmakers, so I gave preference to guys who either hurt the other team’s quarterback or help the Bears.
• I hate when people say he’s not going to be there but, for the purpose of this, I eliminated players who pretty much everyone thinks will be picked before the Bears are on the clock. They include: Laremy Tunsil, Joey Bosa, Myles Jack and Jalen Ramsey.
Without further adieu…
Bears Big Board
1. DeForest Buckner, DL, Oregon. There isn’t a more perfect fit for what the Bears need and want right now. He’d give them three good defensive linemen who can stop the run and provide at least some pass rush.
2. Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State. We learned the Bears are in the running back market when they went after C.J. Anderson. Elliott is this year’s “best running back since Adrian Peterson.” He is the complete package.
3. Emmanuel Ogbah, Edge, Oklahoma State. Dude put on a show at the combine, forcing people to take a closer look. The consensus opinion seems to be he’s going to be able to get after the quarterback, but may not be an every down player. Sounds a lot like Aldon Smith coming out.
4. Leonard Floyd, Edge, Georgia. There is no consensus on Floyd. Some don’t think he’s strong enough and compare him to Dion Jordan. Others say he got after the quarterback when asked, but showed versatility, running with wide receivers down the field. Might be a bit slender for the Bears, but could be a great chess piece for Vic Fangio.
5. A’Shawn Robinson, DL, Alabama. Robinson is like an Algebra equation. The known variable is that he can step in and stop the run from Day One. The question is if he can get after the quarterback. Some question his athleticism but those same questions were raised with Eddie Goldman. The comparison is valid because like Goldman, Robinson is going to be just 21 years old as a rookie. The Bears have one of the best defensive line coaches in the NFL. If anyone can coax pass-rush out of him, it’s Jay Rodgers.
6. William Jackson III, CB, Houston. I have no idea if the Bears value the cornerback position enough to take one in the first round, but if they do, WJ3 could be their guy. He’s raw, but he has everything you could want in terms of athleticism and ball skills. The Bears have one of the best secondary coaches in the league in Ed Donatell and he could make Jackson elite. Fangio hasn’t typically valued this position.
7. Jason Spriggs, OT, Indiana or Jack Conklin, OT, Michigan State. The consensus second tackle is Ronnie Stanley, but I’m not sure the Bears will like him as much as Spriggs or Conklin due to his lack of power and questions about how much he loves the game. The Bears are content with Charles Leno Jr., but they’d like an upgrade and don’t want him matched up against Clay Matthews, Ziggy Ansah and Everson Griffen for six games every year. Conklin and Spriggs are raw, but great athletes.
8. Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson. Has the size and length the Bears want. Not a great athlete, but good enough. Big enough to play any number of positions, especially with the Bears size on the defensive line and speed at linebacker.
9. Sheldon Rankins, DL, Louisville. Doesn’t have ideal height, but has exceptionally long arms for his size. A penetrator who could fit well with their bigger defensive linemen.
10. Carson Wentz, QB, One of the Dakotas. Hey, it’s possible. And if they’re going to grab a QB, they might as well grab one with elite physical skills. Wentz could sit behind Cutler for a couple of years and step into a good situation once they have the rest of their team built.