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Data Entry: 2018 Mock Draft

| April 24th, 2018

At long last, draft week is upon us. In just two short days, months of endless speculation will finally be rendered obsolete with an action-packed three days of actual picks taking place.

Before we head to the time honored post-draft tradition of arguing why guys you’ve never heard of are going to be great NFL players simply because your team drafted them (and your team obviously had the best draft of any team), allow me to add my personal contribution to the time honored pre-draft tradition of pointlessly trying to guess what’s going to happen before it happens. Please feel free to mock me next week once we know how hilariously wrong this was.

My main goal here is not to be accurate, per se, but to generate discussion about what types of options are likely going to be considered by the Bears at various points in the draft. The logic behind each pick is going to be explained based on Ryan Pace’s trends at various points in the draft (you can review day 1, day 2, and day 3 here) and what players who fit those trends are likely to be good fits for Chicago’s current offense or defense based on current roster needs. Let’s use this more as a starting point for some intelligent last-minute draft discussion than simply honing in on these seven names.

Also, I’m not projecting any trades, even though I think it’s likely at least one involving the Bears will happen.


Round 1, Pick 8

Tremaine Edmunds, ILB

I think this pick is Quenton Nelson if he’s still there, but I don’t think he will be. Tremaine Edmunds it is. Edmunds is the round one option who best checks both boxes for Pace in round 1: he’s an exceptional athlete with tremendous upside at a position where a high-profile veteran was recently sent packing (two other names to keep an eye out for in that regard are Derwin James and Marcus Davenport).

Edmunds steps in as an inside linebacker with the potential to develop into a star under Vic Fangio.

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My Five Favorite Players in the Draft

| April 23rd, 2018

There is now so much draft shit available it’s hard to make sense of any of it. Hell, even here there’s more than in the previous ten years combined thanks to the efforts of Data and Andrew. So I won’t pepper this yearly column with too much detail. Instead, here’s who I love in this year’s draft. If you look back historically, these guys usually tend to be pretty good in the league.


5. Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin

He’s battling a sports hernia, limiting his ability to do much for the pro scouts in draft lead-up, but the Aurora native should be healthy for the start of the 2018 season. This kid can play at the next level. He’s not going to be a star but he’s going to be a steady, tough contributor. He’s a poor man’s Heath Miller. And he’s going to fall too far in this draft.


4. Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

Simply love this player and this kid, as I wrote in a Saturday Scout column in November. If Pace is as enamored by athleticism as many believe, how can he not be enamored with a decathlete?


3. James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State

This is another player featured in a Saturday Scout piece last season.

I’m a firm believer that good football players don’t need excuses. Josh Allen and Sam Darnold have excuse makers littered throughout the football media but ultimately both just weren’t good enough in college.

Washington was great. 226 catches in four years. Nearly 4500 yards. 39 touchdowns. And he got better every season. Hopefully Washington ends up on a team with a strong-armed QB who will be able to utilize his ability to completely destroy the back-end of a secondary.

Side note: I’ve Tweeted several times that I don’t like the quarterbacks in this draft. That’s only semi-true. I like Mason Rudolph and Luke Falk as mid-rounders who’ll contribute in the league for a long time.


2. Quenton Nelson, Guard, Notre Dame

A few years ago I wrote that Aaron Donald was far-and-away the best player in the 2014 draft. That was based purely on his football playing, nothing else. Not cones or sprinting in spandex or his work on the pommel horse. When one watched him play, one saw an NFL star.

Nelson is exactly the same player on the other side of the line. If Chris Ballard lets him by the Colts at #6 Thursday night, he’s insane. (But don’t worry, his friends in the press will still celebrate him as a genius.) If Ballard passes, Andrew Luck should sucker punch him in the building Friday morning.

Nelson is the best player in this draft.


1. Roquan Smith, ILB, Georgia

  • Pursues the ball carrier like Harry Carson.
  • Ability to get sideline-to-sideline is Urlacher-esque.
  • Coverage ability reminiscent of young Derrick Brooks.
  • 6.5 sacks his senior year showed he can get into the backfield and wreck havoc.

The only player in the 2018 draft I’m hoping ends up in a Chicago Bears uniform. This kid is special.

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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:

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Audibles: First-Round Projections for the Bears

| April 13th, 2018

The draft is coming and the mocks are rolling in. Here are some projections for the Bears’ first-round selection. As has been proven in the Ryan Pace era, the chances of these being correct are not good.


Scott Wright, NFLDraftCountdown projects Quenton Nelson:

The Bears wisely noted a weak crop of wide receivers in the draft and instead used free agency to provide young quarterback Mitchell Trubisky with some weapons to throw to.  Now they are free to shore up the offensive line with Nelson, who I feel is the best prospect in this class, regardless of position.  It also doesn’t hurt that Nelson’s college offensive line coach Harry Hiestand now holds the same position in the Windy City.

Nelson is a mountain of a man with outstanding strength and power, but also surprising athletic and nimble when pulling and blocking in space.  What really sets Nelson apart though is his aggressiveness, nasty on-field temperament and desire to finish blocks.  I don’t throw my “Elite” grade around lightly and this year Nelson and Penn St. RB Saquon Barkley were the only two prospects to earn that label.  In fact, Nelson is the best true offensive guard prospect I’ve seen in my two decades of covering the NFL Draft.

If Nelson is gone or they want to go in another direction, keep an eye on Virginia Tech OLB Tremaine Edmunds.  The young, athletic, rangy ‘backer has actually been compared to Bears great Brian Urlacher due to his well-rounded skill set and upside.

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Data Entry: Establishing Ryan Pace’s draft profile, day 1

| April 3rd, 2018

 

Now that Ryan Pace has been here for a while, we can start to look at his past drafts to see what lessons we can learn from his approach. This can help us cautiously look ahead to the 2018 draft to see what he might be thinking.

With that goal in mind, I’m going to spend the next three weeks looking at how Pace has approached the three days of the draft, and then applying that approach to 2018 to see what players are likely being considered for the Bears this year. We’re starting today at the top of the draft. Let’s look first at the history, and then we’ll examine lessons learned.

Draft History

2015: Kevin White, WR, 7th overall

2016: Leonard Floyd, OLB, 9th overall (trade up from 11)

2017: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, 2nd overall (trade up from 3)

Trend 1: Go get your guy

The first thing we should observe is that Ryan Pace is not shy about trading up in round 1 to get the player he has identified as his main target. So keep that in mind as we look at mock drafts with players who might be good fits for the Bears but are projected to go higher than #8.

It’s worth noting that these have all been relatively minor trades just moving up a few spots, which keeps the cost down. Despite reportedly exploring moving up to the top of the draft for Marcus Mariota in 2015, Pace has not been willing to give up multiple high picks in these moves.

Trading up becomes a bit more difficult this year because the Bears are already without a third round pick due to trading up for Trubisky last year, but they do have an extra fourth round pick they could use.

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ATM: Three Reasons The Bears Shouldn’t Draft Quenton Nelson

| March 21st, 2018

Quenton Nelson is widely considered to be the best guard to enter the league in several years and the Bears have a big hole at that position. But here are three reasons they shouldn’t draft the Notre Dame guard with the eighth pick.

3. Generational prospects are rarely generational players.

It seems like we have a player who is considered a generational prospect every year, but those guys almost never pan out.

It’s too early to make a call on either of the last two drafts, but look at recent history. Jameis Winston isn’t a generational quarterback like he was thought to be. Jadeveon Clowney is terrific, but hardly generational. What about Reggie Bush? Ndamukong Suh? Even Andrew Luck has been brilliant when he’s on the field. But generational? No.

The guys who end up being generational players are the ones no one — or at least very few — thought would be. JJ Watt and Aaron Donald both went closer to the middle of the first round, Randy Moss barely cracked the top-20, Aaron Rodgers went 24th.

The draft is a crap shoot. There is no such thing as a sure bet. This isn’t even the first time this decade we’ve heard someone described as a generational guard. Remember Chance Warmack? He went 10th and he’s a backup for another team now.

Nelson is bigger, stronger and more athletic than Warmack, but their predraft profiles are almost identical. It’s so rare that players who have the predraft hype of Nelson actually pan out.

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