Chicago Bears 2018 Draft: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
The 2018 NFL Draft is complete, and teams are celebrating their incoming players. There are always good and bad things the come out of the draft, however. What are those for the Chicago Bears?
The NFL draft is now behind us. As the smoke clears from the battlefield, it is time to review what happened. Today we’ll be looking at the Chicago Bears draft from all angles. We will attempt to evaluate what is good, what is bad, and what is worrisome about in the upcoming season.
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Ryan Pace‘s 2018 Draft can be summed up a few different ways, but I do not think there is any better way than to say that he played it safe. He took what was there and let the draft come to him. The only exception is the trade up to get Anthony Miller.
Pace drafted what should be three starters in the first two rounds. He also added a number of good talented developmental projects in the later rounds as well. Roquan Smith should help to ensure that the run defense continues its solid play. James Daniels, likewise, should be an early starter and fill the hole left by Josh Sitton when the Bears cut him.
Anthony Miller is the most controversial pick of the three, but he is one of the most talented receivers overall from this year’s draft. He has the potential to play in the slot, but also to play on the outside as well. He’s a bit undersized, and his speed is only average, but he did well in the agility tests and has the production to back up the pick.
The rest of the picks fit Pace’s usual mold. They’re ultra-athletic and fast. They should also add a great deal of value to the special teams’ units. Everyone is talking about how excited Vic Fangio should be, yet it is Chris Tabor who likely came out with the largest score.
It’s hard to fault Pace for the players picked.
While it is hard to find fault with the players picked, a question remains as to the positions selected. Was guard really a bigger need than a pass rusher? If so, then the Bears have a much greater faith in Aaron Lynch than anyone else does.
Roquan Smith will make the defense better, there is no question about that. The question is, will he make a bigger impact than if we had traded down for Marcus Davenport and picked up a third-round pick and maybe a pick next year? Possibly, but saying so really devalues Nick Kwiatkoski. If he isn’t worth playing, then we should be looking to trade him. If he hasn’t earned the right to play by this point, then the Bears are better off to let him go and look for another younger player whom they can develop to replace Danny Trevathan.
Another thing is that the Bears attempted to get back into the first to select Calvin Ridley, and ended up trading back up to take Anthony Miller. This trade up (or 2nd round advance pick) cost them another player. Is it worth it, possibly, but what it means is that once again the Bears did not get over the seven pick total that they started with.
2015 gave us 6 players. 2016 gave us 8 players. 2017 gave us 5 players. 2018 gave us 7 players.
With these player counts, Pace drafts 6 players a year on average. New England, for comparison, drafts an average of 8 players per year. Pittsburgh likewise drafts an average of 8 players per year. The best way to beat the numbers is the draft is to pick more players. That is what it truly means to build through the draft, and it’s where the Bears need to be.
The phrase “Injury concerns” should make every Bears fan cringe. Injuries have not decimated another team in the league in the way that they have the Bears the last few years. Yet the fact is that you can’t complain about the number of injuries you’ve had when you continue to bring in players with injury histories or who are injury risks.
Last year the Bears took only one player recovering from an injury. In this case, they managed to thread the needle and get lucky. Eddie Jackson stayed healthy the entire season. Now, however, the Bears have added three players with injury concerns. Two of them will likely start next season.
James Daniels has had issues with his knee. In fact, a few of the “experts” labeled his knee as problematic. He was the third center drafted overall despite being ranked number one or two in ability. It is fair to conclude, though we will never know, that some of those concerns may have let him slip into the second round.
Anthony Miller lost an entire season in 2014 to a shoulder injury that he received in pre-season training. It appears that this injury healed based upon his productivity at college, but injuries always leave some structural weakness. He also had a foot injury that led to his non-participation in the Senior Bowl. It was this injury that led a number of teams to put the dreaded red-flag on him for injury concerns.
Kylie Fitts has a pandora’s box of injuries in his past. He may only be a sixth-round pick, but in 2016 he played in only two games before he suffered a season-ending foot injury. In 2017 he missed four full games and parts of others due to various injuries.
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The Bears 2018 Draft Class is very solid talent wise. In fact, it is fair to wonder if this is the single most talented class that Pace has drafted to date. If all of these players live up to their projections and potential, then this will be the class that opens up the new Chicago Bears Super Bowl window.
The other side of that coin, however, is that you have to tag the above paragraph with, “if they all stay healthy.” Once again the Bears have drafted talent over durability. This is great when it works out like it did with Eddie Jackson. It’s also really frustrating when it works out like it did with Chris Williams.
Will the Bears ever reach a point where they can pick up free draft picks like the Patriots did in their trade with the Bears? That will only come if the Bears can establish a clear pipeline of prospects who work out. The best way that they can do that is to continue to take the maximum number of swings each year at the draft. More picks = More hits = More compensatory picks = More Picks (and on and on in that cycle). The hope is that the Bears can get here one day and stay here like the Patriots have.
– Overall, I feel like this draft needs two grades. One based on potential and one based on the concerns. So I will grade the draft as a range. Think of it as a ceiling and floor evaluation. The high-grade is what this draft class could be if everything goes right, the floor is what it could be if some of the concerns play out.
2018 Draft Class Grade: A through B-
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