We’re only a few hours away from the 2020 NFL Draft which was supposed to take place in Las Vegas but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, an unprecedented change had to be made. The NFL will have it’s first virtual draft from the home of Commissioner Roger Goodell. It’s like the ultimate “real life” fantasy draft, just think about it. Don’t worry about it, us fantasy players get it! The evening’s historic festivities begin with the Cincinnati Bengals picking first.
The first four selections seem to be locked according to several mock drafts starting with Heisman winning QB Joe Burrow of LSU. Two through four have EDGE Chase Young, cornerback Jeff Okudah (both from Ohio State), and Isaiah Simmons, a linebacker from Clemson going to the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, and New York Giants respectively. Simmons may slip from that fourth slot but the rest of the first round is murky and up in the air. With teams bound to make trades, wheeling and dealing, we’ll just have to see where the chips fall.
Bears and Draft Day
What will Chicago Do
The Chicago Bears and general manager Ryan Pace have an extra day to prepare as they have no first day selections. Remember the Khalil Mack trade in 2018 with the Oakland Raiders, (now Las Vegas)? If not, a quick refresher: Chicago’s first-round pick this year (19) was part of the deal; which was well worth Mack. Bears have seven picks in total this year with the first coming in the second round at 43rd and then 50th, they don’t pick again until the fifth round. So with that said Pace and the organization really need to make those first two picks difference makers.
What direction will the Bears decide to go? What direction should they go? The answer should be simple. Offensive line first, secondly wide receiver and a distant last, safety. Good thing the draft will be loaded at the most needed positions. Looking at the offensive line in 2019, besides quarterback, was the most inconsistent part of an offensive unit that failed to score a touchdown in the first half in 11 of 16 games. Chicago ranked in the bottom half of the league in all major offensive categories. 27th in rushing, 25th in passing, 29th in both total yards and scoring, 31st in yards per play and 32nd in yards per pass attempt.
Chicago’s line struggles can be attributed to injuries, pro bowl guard Kyle Long was lost to a hip injury after just 4 games, who has also since retired. Long was then replaced by Rashaad Coward who was a converted defensive lineman. Right tackle Bobby Massie suffered an ankle injury that put him on the shelf for the last five games of the season. Need we say anything more, to compete offensively in the NFL your foundation starts up front.
In regards to wide receiver, it appears that Taylor Gabriel didn’t quite fit the role the team was expecting him to. As evidenced by Pace releasing the six-year veteran. In two seasons in Chicago Gabriel had 96 receptions, 1041 yards, and six touchdowns. The Bears now need to add a speedy downfield threat to fill in that slot position. That would be a welcomed addition for Anthony Miller and Allen Robinson, who led the team with a career-best 98 receptions, 1147 yards, and seven touchdowns.
What Prospects Will the Bears Select?
At this point, it would be easy to say the best offensive lineman available but with the teams first pick not coming until Friday at selection 43, get the best value at positions in need. Unless there’s a player they’ve targeted that they believe will be there later, then they can work out a trade to move down and possibly get another pick, say, in the 3rd round. With that being said here are some players the Bears should have an eye on:
- Justin Jefferson WR LSU – Great hands, physical receiver, 4.4 speed
- Grant Delpit S LSU – Second-ranked safety prospect, value pick, good size, and coverage skills
- Cesar Ruiz OL Michigan – True Center would allow Cody Whitehair to move back to his natural guard position
- KJ Hamler WR Penn State – Second-fastest WR in the draft, strong for his size, 5’9 176lbs, downfield threat
Now time to see if any of these players will be the next Chicago Bear.