With the 2017 NFL Draft quickly approaching, the Chicago Bears find themselves in an interesting position. As the current holders of the third overall selection, they have a realistic shot at any player in the draft, with the likely exception of Texas A&M star Myles Garrett. Without a doubt, the Bears are in a position to land a blue-chip, franchise-changing contributor, but the question is, which direction will the team go on draft day?
Chicago Bears Draft Options At Third Overall
Jamal Adams or Malik Hooker
In recent weeks, LSU’s Jamal Adams has emerged as a favorite to be the Bears’ selection at third overall, but don’t discount Ohio State’s Malik Hooker as a possibility either. These two players are unquestionably the draft’s top safeties and the Bears have a clear need at the position. Adams projects as a strong safety at the next level, whereas Hooker looks the part of a ball-hawking free safety. The Bears are likely to have their pick of either player, and it’s probable that any decision they make would be based on need, rather than a discernible talent gap between these two dynamic young men.
Jamal Adams = Eric Berry
Malik Hooker = Earl Thomas https://t.co/TDPaCVSDSG
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) January 18, 2017
Cornerback is less of an area of need for the Bears in the aftermath of the Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper signings, but in the modern NFL, it is necessary to have an abundance of quality contributors at the position. Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore has emerged as the highest-ranked corner in this draft, and if he sits atop the Bears’ board when they’re on the clock, they likely won’t hesitate to make this move. With a rare blend of size and speed to go along with high-end coverage skills, Lattimore is a very intriguing prospect and the team has shown plenty of interest in him up to this point in the draft process.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 3, 2017
Jonathan Allen or Solomon Thomas
With 2016 first-round pick Leonard Floyd emerging as a potential star at outside linebacker, the Bears could use some quality defensive line help to bolster their front seven. Fortunately, the franchise has a couple of quality options available to them at the top of the draft.
Alabama’s Jonathan Allen is an interesting case. Long viewed as a likely top-three pick, his draft stock has faltered a bit recently, due to some lingering injury concerns that may or may not have been overblown in an attempt to depress his market. Regardless, the defensive end is a difference-making talent that is effective both as a pass rusher and against the run, and his versatility will be an asset to any team that drafts him.
Stanford’s Solomon Thomas is a draft riser and has emerged as a potential Bears target as well. While his future role on an NFL defensive line has yet to be determined, his unique skill set and sterling character have put him in a position to be a very high pick in 2017. There is little doubt that he is on the Bears’ radar with draft day approaching.
— CollegeFootball 24/7 (@NFL_CFB) February 10, 2017
The Bears just awarded former Miami Dolphins tight end Dion Sims a three-year, $18 million contract, and the dependable Zach Miller remains in the mix. Clearly, the position is not a pressing area of need for this franchise, but it’s possible the Bears will find O.J. Howard too promising to ignore.
The former Alabama star has been shooting up draft boards in recent weeks, and is now a legitimate contender to be an extremely high pick. This one feels like a bit of a long shot, but it remains a possibility nonetheless, especially considering that Howard has already met with the team. A simple glance at Howard’s athletic profile illustrates what a special player he could become.
A look at TE O.J. Howard compared to his 2017 draft class peers.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) March 15, 2017
Yes, the Bears recently signed Mike Glennon to a three-year, $45 million contract, but it’s entirely possible that the team could look for a franchise quarterback of the future in the draft. The nature of Glennon’s shorter-term deal will allow the organization to move on from this contract in the not-too-distant future if they choose to do so, and if the team finds a young passer to build around, that could very well end up being the case
— Bears Talk (@CSNBears) March 3, 2017
The reasoning behind listing this option as “quarterback” instead of any specific player is simply due to the fact that depending on the Bears’ preference, they could go in any number of directions to address the position. While recent speculation indicates that North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky is emerging from the pack as the draft’s most coveted signal caller, the organization could just as easily be smitten with Clemson’s Deshaun Watson.
Other passers like Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer, or California’s Davis Webb aren’t strong candidates to be selected as highly, but could be realistic picks if the Bears were to explore the final possibility on this list.
This is an option that may not appeal to a lot of Bears fans, but it merits a measure of discussion. This is a rebuilding team, and moving back a few slots to obtain more assets for said re-tooling could prove beneficial in the long run. A glance at the list of players that could draw the team’s interest demonstrates that the franchise has many areas of need, and there is an abundance of quality players available at the top of the draft. If the organization can snag one of its desired targets while still adding resources, it would be foolish not to consider the possibility.
Whatever the Bears decide to do on Thursday, April 27th in Philadelphia, it is clear that this is an important moment in the team’s history. Hitting a home run with this draft is a must for a franchise that staggered to a 3-13 record in 2016. After an active free agency period, this organization is in a position to take a significant step forward if it can produce a quality draft class, and that all starts with the third overall pick.