Welcome to Fixing the Franchises!
This is a brand new article series where I will move from division to division, giving you my takes on how the four teams may attack the NFL Draft.
I’ll talk about what I think each team’s draft strategy might be, team needs, players who I think fill those needs at the relative value and a perfect prospect fit for each.
I’m going to kick the series off with the NCF North, I will drop four teams each Saturday for you guys to enjoy! Let’s get to it!
Last season, it started oh so well for Chicago as they got off to a 5-1 start before a six game losing streak took them out of contention to win the NFC North. However, the Bears rallied and ended up in the new 7th playoff spot but a playoff exit at the hands of the Saints followed.
Questions have been raised about the offense, the defense, the coaching staff, losing six straight and why they were 1-7 against playoff teams in 2020. In short, that playoff berth was the equivalent of the plugging the leak with tape meme.
So… We now know why all Bears fans are desperate for Russell Wilson to exchange the Pacific Northwest for Chi-Town ever since Wilson named the Bears amongst four teams that he would play for.
So what do they need?
Well starting at the top, a quarterback. Mitchell Trubisky’s fifth year option was declined and as things stand, Nick Foles is the only QB on the roster. Are they going to roll with the QB who Trubisky beat out last year?
Could the Bears mount a raid on the Texans for DeShaun Watson or the aforementioned Russell Wilson?
I feel like they have to do something here because picking from 20th overall means they are going to be left without one of the big four QB’s on draft night unless they make a move up the board, however, Ryan Pace feels like he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place because 20th is a fair way back to trade up to be in striking distance for a rookie, especially since it is not unrealistic to think that the first three picks on draft night could be quarterbacks. The Bears will end up like the Squidward meme where he’s looking down at Patrick and Spongebob having fun.
Outside of a signal caller, the Bears also need offensive line help and a replacement for soon-to-be departed receiver, Allen Robinson.
Some help on the defensive line and a safety should also be on the shopping list too… So all in all, the Bears have their work cut out this spring.
What could the strategy be?
This really depends on what the plan is at QB. If they go after a veteran QB in a trade like Watson or Wilson, they won’t have the 20th pick… or the 52nd pick either, and probably won’t have their 1st or second round picks in 2022 either.
Alternatively, they could trade less to move up on draft night, but it’ll likely be for Trey Lance as likely QB and if Lance is around after the first 8 picks (after Carolina), the Bears will probably need to look to leapfrog San Francisco and get from 20 to somewhere between 9 and 11 in the draft order to do so. A move that’ll likely cost them at least their second and maybe even their third rounder. Which would be a poor strategy considering the Bears are already without a fourth this year, leaving them with Lance, a 5th and three 6th rounders.
However, they have Foles, he’s on a deal with an uncomfortable amount of deadcap this year which drops off after the 2021 season and makes him an easy cut.
Could they look to the next tier of QB’s at 20 in Mac Jones or even Kyle Trask?
I’ll leave you to stew on that one for a moment.
Outside of QB and assuming no big trade is swung, a day 2 run on offensive line could be a good way to go as they set about rebuilding the right side of their line, which I believe could be a nice sweet spot for a few guys. This would leave day 3 for picking up a defensive lineman, a safety and some depth on defense.
Picks available (Round) (all compensatory picks are projected, not confirmed):
Picks 20 (1), 52 (2), 82 (3), 161 (5), 201 (6), 215 (Comp 6), 220 (Comp 6)
Early Draft Business
I am going to assume that no trade for a QB of any description is made – As unglamourous as it is, I think the Bears roll with Foles as QB1 next season. He knows the system, he’s an experienced head and as previously mentioned, he’s an easy cut after the 2021 season.
They already have their bridge built!
I also feel it’s a reach and a poor use of draft capital to select a QB with a low ceiling at 20, such as Mac Jones or Kyle Trask (classic Spiderman-pointing-at-spiderman meme). If either of those guys are available at 52, I’d consider it but again, would they just be drafting another Nick Foles level QB?
I think at pick 20, they would be best served at either going after a top wide receiver to replace Allen Robinson or pick off any of the tackles that are on a little bit of a slide.
My picks here could be Rashod Bateman out of Minnesota or Jalen Mayfield out of Michigan.
Bateman isn’t the same build or type of receiver as Robinson but Matt Nagy is a disciple of the Andy Reid coaching tree, so he shouldn’t be over reliant on a taller receiver and a shifty route runner like Bateman, may be right up his street.
Whichever position they didn’t opt for in the first, they should attack in the second, so they may be looking at names like, Dyami Brown or Amon-Ra St. Brown at wide receiver or Liam Eichenberg or James Hudson at tackle.
In the third at 82, the Bears could consider continuing their offensive line rebuild or opt to flip over to defense where I think there is a sweet spot for safeties here.
In terms of an offensive line pick, the Bears could look in the Notre Dame pool again by taking Aaron Banks or Robert Hainsey (who I feel will be a safer bet at guard) to fill out the right side.
Safety wise, this may be a nice spot for a safety like Hamsah Nasirildeen from Florida State. Nasirildeen could play in the box with Eddie Jackson patrolling deep and in sub packages he could become another linebacker next to Roquan Smith, giving Chicago an uber-athletic linebacker pairing on passing downs.
Nasirildeen is one of the most interesting prospects to watch for in this year’s draft as he’s such a unique blend of size and athleticism – They just don’t make many like him.
Any late round gems that could take their fancy?
This year’s defensive line class is not the greatest in terms of top end talent, however that could mean that there are still a group of guys left at the beginning of day 3 who could make a difference for someone’s football team.
One of the draft’s biggest fallers feels like Jaylen Twyman of Pittsburgh. Twyman was one of the earliest high profile opt-outs and it feels like he’s got lost in the shuffle and has slipped down everyone’s boards.
Twyman is a pass rushing interior lineman who could add some interior pass rush to the Bears’ unit.
Perfect prospect fit?
If Trey Lance could fall all the way to 20, that would be a pretty perfect scenario for the Bears – They get tomorrow’s quarterback, today. They get to sit him behind a good bridge QB in Nick Foles and they don’t have to trade a thing to get him.
However, I don’t think there’s any chance that happens, so my perfect prospect fit for the Bears is Rashod Bateman. He gives the Bears a WR1 to complement Anthony Miller and Cole Kmet moving forward as Chicago’s pass catchers for the foreseeable future, which is a more than acceptable situation to come into for whoever is throwing the ball at Soldier Field in 2022.