With so many offseason moves made by the Chicago Bears thus far, the prediction of what they will do with their 11th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft is up in the air. Chicago has already addressed their inside linebacker position with the signings of free agents Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. In between inking deals with Trevathan and Freeman, the Bears added right tackle Bobby Massie to their offensive line, allowing Pro Bowler Kyle Long to slide back to his original position of right guard. And the latest outside signing Chicago conducted was with defensive end Akiem Hicks.
As far as tending to their own, the Bears kept seven players on the roster. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery signed his franchise tender tag deal, while six other players re-signed, including tight end Zach Miller and cornerback Tracy Porter.
All of these moves have given the Bears much flexibility when deciding on what to do with their first-round pick in the upcoming draft. With needs at defensive end, cornerback, offensive tackle, and quarterback, general manager Ryan Pace has the luxury of taking the best overall player that is on the board once Chicago is on the clock. In doing so, Pace could still be fulfilling a need at the same time. Here are the five players that I feel the Bears should seriously consider using their first-round pick on this April.
Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida:
The re-signing of Porter, who will be 30 at the start of the regular season, doesn’t do much about the cornerback spot for the future. Vernon Hargreaves III is the top cornerback in this class of rookie prospects, and just might go in the top 10. However, if he is dangling in the face of the Bears once they are on the clock, don’t be surprised if Pace snatches him up. Having Hargreaves in Chicago’s secondary could be just what Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller needs in order to fully live up to his first-round billing. The two could potentially be one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama:
A’Shawn Robinson is a 6-foot-4, 307-pound defensive tackle that has played in Alabama’s 3-4 alignment, and can play any spot along the defensive line. With Jarvis Jenkins now with the New York Jets, Robinson could not only help fill that void, but also could use his versatility to help the depth along the D-line. He could be a player that could take advantage of one-on-ones when Hicks and nose tackle Eddie Goldman are facing double teams.
DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon:
Just like Hargreaves, DeForest Buckner is a talent that can possibly be long gone once the 11th overall pick rolls around. But if by chance Buckner is available, adding the freakish 6-foot-7, 291-pound defensive end would only improve an already bolstered defensive unit. A team can never have too many pass rushers. Buckner, who had 10.5 sacks in his final year at Oregon, would only improve the Bears’ pass rush that is led by Pernell McPhee, Lamarr Houston, and Willie Young.
Shaq Lawson, DE, Clemson:
The chance of seeing Shaq Lawson on the board once the Bears are set to choose in the first round seems more realistic. Despite a shoulder injury, Lawson is still considered one of the best defensive ends in this year’s draft. His presence in the front seven won’t only help on passing downs, but also when blowing up running plays behind the line of scrimmage. Lawson led the nation with 25.5 tackles for loss in 2015.
Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame:
Most of the Bears’ upgrades were on the defensive side of the ball so far this offseason. Looking to sure up the offense definitely could make things go more smoothly in 2016. Having already added Massie to the right side of the offensive line and putting Long back at his rightful place, Chicago could strengthen their O-line even more with the selection of offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. The Notre Dame product is athletic enough to beat speedy edge rushers to the point of attack, and could be an upgrade from Charles Leno Jr. at left tackle. Protecting Jay Cutler’s blindside will be huge in making sure that he repeats the productive season he had in 2015.