Almost a week removed from the NFL Draft, I thought this week I would take a look at who the Bears drafted and signed and give my take on how I think the Bears did.
Round 1, Pick 8: Roquan Smith (Linebacker, Georgia)
As I mentioned in my brief draft update last week, I was extremely skeptical that Quenton Nelson would fall all the way to the Bears at pick number 8. Sure enough, he went to the Colts at #6. That being the case, I love that they picked Roquan Smith. For a team that has historically been defined by excellent defenses, particularly by the middle linebackers who have been the face of them, I’m excited for Smith’s potential as a Bear. He was regarded by many as the best defensive player in this year’s draft (he won the Butkus Award as the nation’s top linebacker last season). ESPN’s Matt Bowen sees Smith playing every down this season, saying “I don’t think he ever comes off the field.” Mel Kiper went even further, saying he thinks Smith could lead the NFL in tackles as a rookie.
While it is natural to set high expectations for players drafted this high, all indications are that he has all the tools to be a great NFL player right away.
To get you pumped up for Roquan as a Bear, here’s some 2017 Roquan Smith Highlights.
Round 2, Pick 7: James Daniels (Center, Iowa)
The Bears offensive line certainly has some room for improvement. Yes, while having a quarterback as mobile and comfortable outside the pocket as Mitchell Trubisky takes some pressure off the O-Line I love seeing the team use the Draft to strengthen up front. An added bonus of Daniels is that in addition to playing center he can play at either guard position as well. This will be valuable if Matt Nagy decides to stick with Cody Whitehair at Center. Todd McShay said he believes, based on the Bears needs combined with Daniels’ ability, that this was the Bears best draft pick.
Perhaps the best part of Daniels being drafted came later, when he got a message from the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital:
Round 2, Pick 19: Anthony Miller (Wide Receiver, Memphis)
This entire offseason I’ve believed that the Bears should be signing literally every available wide receiver on the market. Thus, I was happy to see the Bears use one of their higher draft picks on a wide receiver. Yes, they’ve already signed Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel this offseason, but there was certainly room for more depth. Given the struggles of Bears receivers last season, I’m sure Trubisky will be thrilled with addition of Miller, who compiled over 1400 receiving yards in both his junior and senior seasons. Someone who will not be thrilled with this pick is Kevin White, who just had the option for the fifth-year option on his contract turned down by the Bears. Thus, White, the former first round pick who has appeared in just 5 career games because of constant injury issues, finds himself in a contract year surrounded by new talent.
Round 4, Pick 15: Joel Iyiegbuniwe (Linebacker, Western Kentucky)
Another linebacker? Sure, why not. With Leonard Floyd, Danny Trevathan, and Roquan Smith being penciled (sharpied?) in as three of the Bears four starting linebackers there is an outside linebacker spot up for grabs. Iyiegbuniwe will likely be competing with Sam Acho for the spot, but even if he doesn’t start having cover is good (as the Bears found out last year when Floyd got hurt and they struggled to fill his spot). As a junior last season, Iyiegbuniwe had 117 total tackles, by far his most productive season. Also, his name is awesome, and that counts for something right?
Round 5, Pick 8: Bilal Nichols (Defensive Tackle, Delaware)
Eddie Goldman pretty much has the nose-tackle spot nailed down for the Bears, so don’t expect to see a whole lot of Nichols this season. He was first team all conference in the Colonial Athletic Conference last season with 56 tackles in 11 games. When it comes to the defense, the more depth the better in my mind.
Round 6, Pick 6: Kylie Fitts (Linebacker, Utah)
Yup, another linebacker. Personally, I would’ve liked to see the Bears take a defensive back at some point in the draft but, hey, I don’t make these decisions. Fitts appears to have talent, recording seven sacks in his only full season at Utah. The fact that it was his only full season is the issue, as he had a lot of injury problems in college (foot, shoulder ankle). However, he’s confident his injuries are behind him. If he turns out to be able to stay healthy, maybe he’s a steal in the sixth round. If not, it’s only a sixth round pick.
Round 7, Pick 6: Javon Wims (Wide Receiver, Georgia)
Is there such a thing as too many wide receivers? Maybe? Wims had 45 catches for 720 yards for the Bulldogs last year, and the Bears seem to think he’s got a lot of potential upside. Time will tell I suppose, as after Robinson and Gabriel there should be plenty of opportunity to go around for guys to catch passes from Trubisky this season. If nothing else, he’s a buddy for Roquan Smith to make the first round pick’s transition to the NFL easier.
Dejon Allen (Center, Hawaii)
Abdullah Anderson (Defensive Lineman, Bucknell)
Rashard Fant (Cornerback, Indiana)
Garrett Johnson (Wide Receiver, Kentucky)
Michael Joseph (Cornerback, Dubuque)
Nyles Morgan (Linebacker, Notre Dame)
Ryan Hall (Running Back, Oregon State)
Elijah Norris (Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, UConn)
Nick Orr (Safety, TCU)
Olubunmi Rotimi (Defensive End, Old Dominion)
Kevin Toliver (Cornerback, LSU)
Andrew Trumbetti (Defensive End, Notre Dame)
Cavon Walker (Defensive End/Outside Linebacker, Maryland)
I am not going to take the time to break all these guys down, both because I don’t have the time and because only a couple of these guys will likely ever end up seeing game action for the Bears.
I’m glad to see a couple of corners and a safety on this list. DB was the one area I wanted to see the Bears strengthen in in the Draft that they didn’t, so at least they’re looking to add a little depth. I’m also glad to see some defensive ends and edge rushers, as the outside of the Bears’ defensive line is definitely an area where there could be an opportunity (currently projecting Jonathan Bullard as a starter? meh).
The only guys on this list I can speak about in any detail are, of course, Nyles Morgan and Andrew Trumbetti. Morgan was an anchor in the center of the Irish defense for the past couple of seasons, partnering with Te’von Coney (who led the Irish in tackles and elected to stay for his senior season). Coney is a potentially good depth piece at linebacker, but he’s got a lot of competition for a roster spot with all the linebackers the Bears have added in the last week.
Trumbetti is a big, strong defensive lineman (6’ 4”, 263 lbs) whose stat line doesn’t exactly jump off the page, which just 13 solo tackles in his final season for the Irish. However, I always felt he wasn’t given enough opportunity for playing time, so I’m glad to see the Bears giving him a look. His stats alone wouldn’t warrant being signed by an NFL team, so maybe the Bears agree he deserves a shot. He’s also a fellow Siegfried Rambler, so I’m a bit biased in my desire to see him succeed.
This is (probably) the last I’ll be writing about the Bears between now and the preseason. Maybe I’ll go down to Bourbonnais a day for training camp and write about that, but otherwise it’ll be baseball and soccer on the Chicago side of things for the next couple months.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I think the Bears will be a fun team to watch this season; will they be good? Who knows…
*header photo via the Chicago Tribune*