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This was one of the deepest NFL drafts in years and it shows in the amount of talent still available after the draft. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock said that there is another round and a half of players still available that would have been drafted last year. The Bears addressed some needs in the draft but still need help in the defensive backfield, at linebacker, and at wide receiver in my opinion.
I’ve listed my top ten rated players that are still available below and then fifteen more UFA targets that I like for the Bears.
Top Ten Graded Players Available:
LB Christian Jones, Florida St (6’3, 240): Great athlete with good size and speed who is improving as a football player but still has to improve his technique and play recognition skills. Jones has been moving up draft boards quickly and has the versatility and size to play either inside or out.
CB Rashaad Reynolds, Oregon St (5’10, 189): Started 38 consecutive games, so durability isn’t an issue. Reynolds is a cover corner with good instincts who makes up for a lack of top-end speed with flawless technique. Reynolds, a three-time state wrestling champ in high school, has good strength for a corner (20 reps), good agility (6.72 3-cone), sticky hands (6 INTs) and is a willing tackler. His lack of elite size or athleticism will probably drop him to the middle rounds, but he’s good enough to contribute right away and I think he will be a starting NFL corner by year two.
ILB Shane Skov, Stanford (6’2, 245): Plays with a ferocity and toughness that a lot of defenses could use. Skov was the emotional leader of a very tough Stanford defense last year. His pregame speeches are legendary for inspiring teammates, but more importantly his on the field play set the tone for Stanford’s fierce, hard-hitting defense. Skov is a sure tackler who can lay the lumber on opposing running backs or receivers crossing the middle. His blitzing instincts are so good that he is in the backfield so quick it looks like he is off-sides. Skov has barely enough speed for MLB in a 4-3, but makes up for it with great overall instincts. His man coverage needs work, but Skov plays very well in zone coverage. He’s a better fit in a 3-4, but can play either and worst case he will be a 2-down run stuffer.
DE Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas (6’3, 247): He’s a little light for a DE, but has quickness off the edge and displayed an intriguing mix of pass rush moves in college. Jeffcoat struggles at time to shed blockers and will have problems against the run until he gets stronger. After four years of lining up with his hand on the ground I don’t think it will be a smooth transition if he’s asked to play OLB, which limits him to 4-3 teams. He is the son of former NFL player Jim Jeffcoat who had 103 career sacks and two super bowl rings with the Cowboys.
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SS Craig Loston, LSU (5’11, 217): Great athlete and big hitter, who is a little raw technique wise but has a ton of potential. Loston will be a force against the run from day 1, but his coverage skills need some work. He has the natural athleticism to become proficient in coverage and could eventually develop into a pro-bowl caliber strong safety.
CB Marcus Roberson, Florida (6’0, 191): Roberson had a bad combine and didn’t do much better at his pro day, but the tape doesn’t lie. He was one of the better cover guys in the country last season and has the potential to be a lock-down corner. Roberson is a non-factor against the run, but should improve the pass defense wherever he ends up.
T Antonio Richardson, Tennessee (6’6, 336): Massive tackle prospect with surprisingly light feet for his size. “Tiny” struggled in pass pro as a left tackle, but he could step in on the right side and could become a force quickly and with some technique improvement could eventually become a stud at left tackle as well.
DT Kelcy Quarles, South Carolina (6’4, 297): The more I watch tape on South Carolina, the more that Quarles stands out. Quarles is a well-rounded prospect who holds the point well against the run and shows enough quickness to generate an interior pass rush (9.5 sacks last year). DTs that are good against the run and can get to the QB are rare.
DT George Uko, USC (6’3, 275): Would have been a much higher pick if he had stayed in school another year, but is an explosive DT prospect who has starter potential once he gets stronger and puts on some weight. The more I watch Uko, the more I like him. He has a ton of potential.
SS Dion Bailey, USC (6’0, 201): Bailey switched between OLB and safety in college and played well at both. He is a sure tackler with great instincts and enough speed to be adequate in coverage. Bailey showed good hands in college with 11 career interceptions and could become a versatile play-maker at the next level.
On the next page I have fifteen more UFAs that I think the Bears should target.