Across The Middle: Bears Big Board 2.0

| April 18th, 2018

I consider myself the top Ryan Paceologist on the Bears writer landscape. My resume:

Trying to figure out who they’re targeting in the 2018 draft has me stumped. I came to the three conclusions above by looking at all of the evidence I could find and asking what made the most sense.

Picking eighth, the Bears surely aren’t going to be able to get the player they surely want and need most, edge Bradley Chubb. One must also operate under the assumption that running back Saquon Barkley will be gone.

There seems to be a good chance that four quarterbacks go within the first seven picks, but if they don’t, the top guys on this list might be gone. It’s also possible that the Bears trade back, which is why the list is more than eight players deep.

There are some good players that are going to be available. The problem I’m having is that I can construct a really strong argument against all of the top candidates. Still, one sticks out as the most likely simply because it makes the most sense.

The list:

10. Lorenzo Carter, Edge, Georgia

A poor man’s Leonard Floyd because he’s so similar to the guy the Bears took ninth overall in 2016. About the same athleticism and production at the same school as Floyd. Probably not a guy they’d take eighth overall, but he could be in play if they’re able to trade back.

9. Josh Jackson, Iowa

Doesn’t have top-flight speed but has really good size and ball skills. A little lower on the list because I’m not sure where he’d play right away. Had a hard time getting on the field for Iowa.

8. James Daniels, Iowa

My dark horse. Daniels is the perfect center for the Bears because he can cover so much ground. He’d be considered a reach at eight, but he shouldn’t be. The best center prospect to enter the league in a number of years.

7. Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB, Alabama

Really versatile defensive back who made a ton of big plays on a big stage at Alabama. Would probably be higher but he didn’t test well at the Combine. We know Pace likes elite-level athletes early in the draft.

6. Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Va. Tech

Still kind of a mystery man to me. If the Bears see him as an edge, they might see a ton of untapped potential and go ahead and grab him. I don’t like him as much as a linebacker because I don’t think he has the instincts. He’s a ball of clay, the Bears need to decide if he can be shaped.

5. Marcus Davenport, Edge, UTSA

Edge is a significant need for the Bears, but I’m not sure the value is going to match the pick for them. The media consensus on Davenport is nowhere near a top-10 pick, but there are some who are really high on him. I don’t consider him to be close to the four players ahead of him on this list, but he does fit a need and the profile the Bears generally look for early in the draft.

4. Derwin James, DB, Florida St.

Just a special player. James can do whatever the Bears want him to do, whether it’s playing in the box to stick running backs, blitz or play the middle of the field in coverage. I really think he has been underrated and I doubt he even makes it to the Bears.

3. Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

The top guy on my list the last time I did this exercise and could easily be the pick. Smith flies over the field and is elite in coverage. My only reason he’s lower now is because I have a hunch the Bears are going to want to give Nick Kwiatkoski a legitimate shot.

2. Denzel Ward, Ohio State

I touched on Ward a bit last week. I think he’s a really good prospect who will add some much-needed speed to the Bears defense. He’ll play in the slot as a rookie before eventually taking over as a starter and giving the team a top cover guy for the first time since Peanut Tillman was in his prime.

1. Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame

I wouldn’t agree with it, but this is the guy I keep coming back to.

Look at all of the other positions and you’ll find guys the Bears have who can at least play at an adequate level, but they made no attempt to get a legitimate starting interior offensive lineman after letting Josh Sitton go.

I keep coming back to what Pace told SI’s Albert Breer about his goal this off-season:

So I asked Pace, is it too simplistic to say 2017 was about finding the quarterback for the Bears, and 2018 has been about building infrastructure around him?

‘No, that’s accurate,’ he quickly answered. ‘The hardest piece of this whole thing is to find the quarterback. We feel like we’ve done that. And so now, it’s surrounding your most important asset, your quarterback, with weapons so he can be successful and they can grow and develop chemistry together.'”

Pace spent big on receiving options, but he knows he has to protect his quarterback and have a long-term anchor on the line. Nelson gives him that.

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  • Irish Sweetness

    First to call bullshit on Nagy.

    Absolutely? Then why did the man delete mBearss from his Instagram?

    Nobody offered a first.

    • CanadaBear

      With that line of reasoning 90+% of the Bears roster was on the trade block.

      • Cam Meredith >/= Jerry Rice

        I too would be on Nagy’s trade block.

    • evantonio

      What’s the mBearss reference?

      • SC Dave

        Probably Howard’s Instagram account.

    • “Modestly” Huge Bears Penis

      not sure what you are talking about. Howards Instagram has all kinds of Bears pics on it.


      • Irish Sweetness

        It does NOW. It didn’t.

  • That Guy

    I really don’t think Pace passes up on the pick he really loves just because the team has a guy in that position. So I’m saying that Pace won’t pass up on Smith just to give Kwiatkoski another shot.

    Especially knowing that they’re 1 injury away from calling up One Play Shea’s agent, because Jones is gone, Freeman is gone, and the depth behind Kwiatkoski and Trevathan is basically dust bunnies.

    You know Pace is going to end up taking a TE in the first. You just know it.

    • Irish Sweetness

      This is the Eiger Sanction move on his part. The TE draft. Except that we’d know exactly who’s going to die.

  • Redflagdan

    I can see them picking James Daniels and moving Whitehair back to guard. The debate could be what is better? Nelson at guard and Whitehair at center, or Whitehair at guard and Daniels at center….

    • SC Dave

      Perhaps they think they could trade back in the first and still get Daniels?

      • AlbertInTucson

        I think there has to be a desirable QB available at 8 for someone to be interested in trading up there.

        Much speculation that Tampa would like to trade down which would likely hurt the Bears’ chances to move down.

  • Scharfinator

    Has anyone talked much about Isaiah Oliver? Size, speed, length, fluidity, apparently technique too. Built like Jalen Ramsey.

    • BerwynBomber

      He climbed but no way near as high as 8th.

      My guess he would only be a trade down proposition unless he lasts until R2.

  • CanadaBear

    Read a funny quote from Mark Potash at the ST’s. Talking about Foxy.

    “Nagy confirmed as much, acknowledging that Howard would be the Bears’
    featured running back in his offense — one of several direct answers by
    Nagy after Tuesday’s minicamp practice that John Fox would’ve fumbled,
    bumbled, misdirected and deflected, with a little condescension thrown
    in for good measure.”

    • I remember Lovie not being a charmer either. Think there was one press conference and a reporter asked him something or other, and Lovie just responded, ” you would like to know that wouldnt you?`

      • CanadaBear

        The difference is Lovie won a bunch of games with the Bears. Foxy not so much.

        • John F

          ………Lovie won a bunch of games with the Bears.

          Just never the really important ones …………

          • Scharfinator

            Better than never any of em per Fox…

          • John F

            Not much better ……..

          • CanadaBear

            Close but no cigar.

          • AlbertInTucson


            You have to win a COUPLE of important games to even get to a Super Bowl.

          • John F

            Let’s take a look:

            2005 Div Round of Playoffs – Lost at home

            2006 Div Round of Playoffs – Beat a team, in OT, whose RB had a broken foot and whose QB had a broken hand

            2006 NFC Championship – Barely leading a team full of rookies before opponent imploded in the 4th quarter

            2006 Super Bowl – Total face plant

            2008 Game 16 – Loses last game of regular season, misses playoffs again

            2010 Div Round of Playoffs – Beat a 7-9 team

            2010 NFC Championship – Fall behind early, screw up QB substitution, score meaningless TD with 4 minutes to go, Face plant against historic rival

          • AlbertInTucson

            I don’t need a look.

            All I said was, you had to win a couple important games to get to a Super Bowl.

            He did.

            YOU said he never won ANY important games.


          • John F

            “Just never the really important ones”

            You and I have a different definition of what “really important” is ………..

          • Cam Meredith >/= Jerry Rice

            In summary, the NFC Championship isn’t important?

          • AlbertInTucson

            Apparently, not.

          • AlbertInTucson


            Apparently, your definition is “The Super Bowl is the Only Really Impornt Win”.

          • SC Dave

            Haven’t you blocked that guy yet?

          • AlbertInTucson

            Sir Guy Of Gisborne (Basil Rathbone): “How is it you didn’t use a BLACK arrow?”

            Robin Hood (Errol Flynn): “That’s my court of last resort, Sir Guy. It’s verdict is always final.”

            THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1939).

  • CanadaBear
    • AlbertInTucson

      The film’s talented and very funny writer-director, Harold Ramis, died WAY too young.

      • CanadaBear


  • CanadaBear

    Saw the Andre the Giant doc that Jeff referenced in his twitter feed. Really good stuff. By far the funniest part of the doc was talking about his farts. He was a legendary eater and esp drinker so you can only imagine. Ric Flair had me howling talking about it.

    Ric Flair said one night he was buying and he looked at the bill the next day and Andre had 106 beers!!!!!!!!!!! Rob Reiner directed Andre in the Princess Bride and there was a bunch of cases of Beaujolais on the set. Apparently Andre would drink crazy quantities of alcohol and only be slightly tipsy. Reiner said Andre was completely hammered on the set by the end of the day. Reiner counted the empties. 20 bottles of Beaujolais!!!!!!!!!!

    It really was sad at the end of the doc when McMahon turned Andre into a heel at the end of his career so they could promote Hulkster. Andre was super sensitive and he loved being the friendly giant.

  • evantonio

    As a Bears STH, I’m offered a chance to buy tickets for a single game during a special pre-sale one hour before the general public can buy single game tickets. I’m not going to use the offer because of the aforementioned season tickets. Anyone want the code? First come first served. Let me know!

    Note: In the past, the offer came with the crippling “You must also buy preseason tickets” addendum. That message was not included in this year’s email, so there’s a chance they’ve moved past that garbage.

    Note 2: The email says the tickets will be sold at a Preferred STH Presale rate. Don’t know how much of a savings that is, but it seems like it’ll be something.

    • Irish Sweetness

      I’ll bet Devin still calls it in …

  • catfish44

    don’t hurt your arm jeff hughes patting yourself on the back.

    • Cam Meredith >/= Jerry Rice

      Jeff didn’t write this.

  • Irish Sweetness

    I just noticed Vita Vea is not on the list. No love? What’s the knock on him? Not a pass rusher and more of a run-stuffer?

    • Maybe cuz he’s a NT? I still contend we need one esp w how Goldman is worn down to a nub like Hicks. Vea would spell him, and could allow Goldman to kick out in jumbo packages.

      Goldman, Vea, Hicks could really keep the LBs clean to do their thing

      • Irish Sweetness

        Vea is 6’4, 340+ and fast. That’s a 3-4 end in my book.

        • 6’4 340 is NT in any D. However, gotta be careful w NTs. Rememember when everyone was blowing Danny Shelton?
          Even the athletic freaks like Poe are risky cuz they tend to be only two down guys.
          That being said, Goldmnan to me looks like a big 3-4DE to me. I feel like he should play the Justin Smith role in Fangio’s D , in which case a true bubble butt like Vea can anchor the middle.

          But for whatever reason, Fangio in this D likes the smaller (almost 3tech DT) REs.
          None have done shit. Unrein and Bullard were’nt exactly tearing it up.

  • Irish Sweetness

    I’ll skip “Paterno” then, Jeff, thanks. I was thinking about watching it.

  • Irish Sweetness

    In the immortal words of MB:”Is this thing on?”

    Stephen King does some pretty sweet tweets.


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