When it comes to predicting what will happen in the NFL draft, nobody should ever speak (or write) in certainties. Crazy stuff happens. That said, there are a few moves the Bears should definitely consider, but very likely will not.
The reasoning varies from move-to-move, but one thing we have learned in free agency is that the Bears fully intend on winning a lot of games in 2020-21. Publicly, they’ll say their intent is to win a Super Bowl – and there surely is some truth to that – but the reality is Ryan Pace needs to put a winner on the field to keep his job.
The draft is typically used for future needs and Pace has often talked about taking the best player available – even if his practice in doing so is a little hit and miss.
With two second round picks, the Bears are in a position to do some interesting things, it just seems unlikely that they’ll pull the trigger.
Draft Akiem Hicks’ eventual replacement
Why they should: We saw last year how much the Bears struggled in all areas up front once Hicks was injured and, unfortunately, there is no guarantee that Hicks is going to be the player we’re used to seeing.
Forget about the elbow injury that cost Hicks most of the 2019 season. Before that ever happened he missed a game because of a knee ailment. He didn’t suffer a specific injury to his knee, and Matt Nagy described it as wear and tear. It doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that a soon-to-be 31-year-old who is having to miss time due to wear and tear is concerning.
The Bears might have thought they had Hicks’ eventual replacement in Bilal Nichols, but the Delaware product failed to produce in his second season. After showing promise with 20 solo tackles — five for loss — and three sacks as a rookie, Nichols dropped to 15 solo tackles — one for loss — and zero sacks, despite playing 117 more snaps.
It’s probably going to take one of their second round picks. With the draft being rich at receiver and offensive tackle, a first-round prospect like Marlon Davidson of Auburn or Justin Madubuike just might slip to them.
If nothing else, adding a talented defensive lineman will help the Bears limit the snaps Hicks plays and keep him fresh for a playoff push.
Why they won’t: With RRH, Goldman and Hicks, the Bears are set for 2020, barring injury. They aren’t likely going to give up on Nichols after a down season and, if he struggles again, Brent Urban showed he can at least hold his ground last year. They’ll just hope and pray that Hicks doesn’t get hurt.
Draft a Running Back
Why they should: It’s entirely possible that the most impactful player on the board when the Bears draft is at a position they probably aren’t even going to consider.
The team invested a lot in David Montgomery and he had a decent rookie year with 889 yards and six touchdowns, with offensive line play taking a lot of the heat for his 3.7 yards per carry average. He looked very much like he did in college, a solid back, capable of a lot of carries, versatile in the passing game and exceptionally elusive.
But he’s not special. The Bears really might have a chance to grab a special player.
In a lot of ways, it’s similar to what the Minnesota Vikings were facing in 2007. They had Chester Taylor, a back they invested in who had a good season. But they were looking at Adrian Peterson in the face and made the right call.
If Peterson were coming out in 2020, he might be a second round pick just like Jonathan Taylor of Wisconsin, a 225-pounder who runs a 4.39 40 and dominated at the college level. Or J.K. Dobbins, who dominated at Ohio St. Or Georgia’s D’Andre Swift. One of the three will certainly be available for the Bears and it’s possible all three are.
There’s much debate about if teams should invest in running backs (to be clear, nobody should ever pay a running back big money), but we have seen backs carry teams. We saw how much of a genius Sean McVay was when Todd Gurley was rolling vs. when he wasn’t. It was the running game that carried the 49ers to the Super Bowl. It was Derrick Henry who scared opposing defenses and made Ryan Tannehill’s life easier.
Running back might not be a positional need, but one could argue the Bears’ greatest need is to add at least one truly awesome player to their offense. They might have a chance to do that.
Why they won’t: They have solid players at the position and invested quite a bit in Montgomery. They’re just not going to give up on him after one year. They will surely add to the position either late in the draft or through UDFA, but they’re not going to take a stab at a potentially special player high.
Invest in Another Quarterback
Why they should: There are a couple of players who just might be too good to pass up.
With medical staffs not being able to examine Tua Tagovailoa, it’s entirely possible that he drops into the 20s. Would the Bears be willing to give up a 2021 first round pick and then some to grab him? Probably not, but they should.
If they can’t — or won’t — move up, they have a chance to be looking right at Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts, who looks an awful lot like Russell Wilson did coming out.
Listening to Pace and Nagy, it seems as if the Bears are set on having Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky battle with the idea that the winner will be the quarterback for at least the next two years. Foles is their reliable option and Trubisky is the wild card. It’s a logic that is easy to follow and inarguably makes sense, but so does adding another talented player at the game’s most important position.
The rookie quarterback would be afforded time to learn, but could also surge past the other two, take the job and finally solve something that has been an issue for 50 years.
I’m not arguing in the team taking a quarterback just to take one, but if they’re looking at a potentially special player, they have to pull the trigger.
Why they won’t: They still haven’t given up on Mitch’s potential. Pace said after the season that the sky is the limit for Trubisky and he’s not going to throw that away. Instead, they’re going to use the pick to help whoever the quarterback is. If it isn’t Trubisky, they’ll go back to the drawing board next year with Foles as the starter and a rookie behind him.