Which 10 Bears would you “protect” for an expansion draft?

Nov 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace smiles prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 1, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace smiles prior to the game against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports /

With the NHL having an expansion draft and the talk around each team being about which players should and should not be protected, it feels like a good chance to run a similar exercise with the Chicago Bears.

In the NHL, teams are allowed to protect 10 players that the expansion team the Las Vegas Knights cannot select. Sure, in the NFL there is a different process to an expansion draft, but it is an interesting question deciding which ten players to protect. It would be too hard to rationalize and understand what rookies are worth in value to keep them in the exercise so we will assume you can keep your 2017 draft picks.

On offense, two obvious names would be Jordan Howard and Kyle Long. Howard is 22, on a rookie contract and averaged over 100 yards per game, and Long is still 28 and signed on for the long term. Those two make the Bears offense tick and are what the team would have to build around.

On defense, the slam dunk that has to be kept is Leonard Floyd. You cannot dangle out a young pass rusher who had a productive season in the way that Floyd did. Jerrell Freeman would be the next player to keep, even though the issue with his suspension last season is not the most ideal. He should still be in fine shape, and when he is on the field he does not just win with strength and speed but smarts and savvy. Akiem Hicks is another player that the Bears would have to keep. He is in the heart of his prime and is coming off of his best season of his career. Hicks makes the defensive line what it is and it would be little without him.

Of the last five, Josh Sitton, Cody Whitehair, Eddie Goldman, Pernell McPhee, Danny Trevathan, Willie Young, Prince Amukamara, Quintin Demps and Marcus Cooper are the first names that stand out as worth keeping. Amukamara, Demps, and Cooper are obvious because they were just acquired

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this year. However, Amukamara and Cooper are here because other teams did not want them. Demps has the most starter experience and likely is the most talented of the three. His track record stands the firmest and he would be the first kept.

Goldman, McPhee, and Trevathan all bring talent to the front of the defense that is needed. However, all three have major red marks on their medical records, and if the team dangles any of them, they may get passed over anyways. Still, of the three, the ceiling is the highest for Goldman. McPhee has a longer injury history, and Trevathan has a more serious injury than Goldman. Goldman is also the youngest and the first of those three worth keeping.

The last three have been with the team and have relatively good health track records. However, in the case of Sitton and Young, they are both over the age of 30. In the case of Whitehair, they are looking at a rookie who was not slated to start but turned out a good season. The one-year wonder questions are there, but his value as a potential long-term center boosts him above the other two.

This now leaves Sitton, Young, McPhee, Trevathan, Amukamara, and Cooper for the last two spots. Amukamara is only signed for one season, so he is out. Trevathan has a huge cap hit and with his injury history will likely get passed over so he is out. Having kept two interior linemen already it is tough to make a case for Sitton. However, he was great last season and with an offense built around Howard and those big boys up front, he has to stay. For the last spot, we have two outside linebackers and a cornerback.

Of the two outside linebackers, McPhee is younger with a higher ceiling, but Young has suited up for seven more games over the past two seasons. When comparing Young to Cooper, a pass rush can make a cornerback better. A good cornerback cannot make a pass rush better. The team needs to keep a partner for Floyd, and a veteran who can help Floyd along the way. This is enough value to make Young the tenth selection. To recap, the Bears should keep:

1. Jordan Howard
2. Josh Sitton
3. Kyle Long
4. Cody Whitehair
5.Akiem Hicks
6. Eddie Goldman
7. Leonard Floyd
8. Willie Young
9. Jerrell Freeman
10. Quintin Demps

Next: What if 2017 Bears stay healthy?

Who are the ten players that you protect?