(CBS) — For the first time in a decade, Halas Hall will be mostly silent during the opening night of the NFL Draft.
Currently without a first- or second-round pick, the Bears will be in a holding pattern until their 87th overall selection pops up in the third round. Unless, of course, general manager Ryan Pace reverts to his wheeling and dealing ways. Pace has pulled the trigger on eight trades during the his previous four Bears’ drafts.
Thanks to his shrewd moves (namely trading for Khalil Mack), the reigning NFC North champs can afford to be really picky this year, CBS 2’s Ryan Baker reports.
“There’s no pressing, huge needs. … We can honestly select the best players, and that’s a great spot to be in,” Pace boasted at his pre-draft media briefing.
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Not getting on the clock in the draft until late Friday night may be a stroke of luck for the Bears. A prime-time pick brings the pressure of having to be steak with some sizzle. The meat and potatoes of a team are usually served up in the later rounds.
For example, 2018 pro bowlers Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen were fourth-round finds in 2017. Bilal Nichols is a promising defensive lineman taken in the fifth round last year. The Bears may not need to upgrade their roster with college talent this week to fuel Matt Nagy’s quest for the Super Bowl.
With five total draft picks in the third, fourth, fifth, and seventh (2) rounds, here is a list of possible targets:
Running back: He wasn’t an ideal fit for Nagy’s system, but let’s not forget that as a fifth-round pick, the departed Jordan Howard had back-to-back 1,000 yard rushing seasons, and three straight years with well over a grand from scrimmage. Pace needs to hit on another diamond in the rough, capable of Howard-like production.
Tight end: Pace gambled on Adam Shaheen in 2017, using a second-round pick on the Gronk-esqe tight end from tiny Ashland University. Shaheen is approaching bust territory. Pace probably needs to hedge his bet and find a possible replacement.
Offensive/defensive line: The Bears are stacked on both units, but a team can never have enough big bodies up front.
Kicker: Well, ya know. Robbie Gould’s yellow brick road back home to the Bears may not be paved with enough green. The Bears might have to safeguard themselves with a strong, young leg that is still available late in the draft.