The 2018 NFL Draft is now in the books. Now, we must all wait a year for Christmas to come around once more. Many teams had solid drafts. One of the best drafts came out of the Windy City. The Chicago Bears had a great draft. They were able to add a seven-player class while addressing needs and taking a Best Player Available (BPA) approach. They also made one trade. Here are the details:
Traded a 2019 second-rounder and 2018 fourth-rounder (No. 105) to the New England Patriots; received 2018 second-round selection (No. 51).
The Bears weren’t the only team to give up picks in exchange for a second-round receiver. As our own Alex Quiroga details in “San Francisco 49ers 2018 NFL Draft Review”, the 49ers and their general manager John Lynch gave a third-round pick to move up 15 spots in Round 2. Paying a hefty price for playmakers shows two things. One, both franchises are committed to their respective quarterbacks. Two, NFL teams valued the receivers more than we initially thought, especially after Round 1.
Let’s take a quick look at the Bears draft results before we dive in:
- Round 1 Pick 8: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
- Round 2 Pick 39: James Daniels, C, Iowa
- Round 2 Pick 51: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
- Round 4 Pick 115: Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB, Western Kentucky
- Round 5 Pick 145: Billy Nichols, DT, Delaware
- Round 6 Pick 181: Kylie Fits, LB, Utah
- Round 7 Pick 224: Javon Wimms, WR, Georgia
Chicago Bears 2018 NFL Draft Review
The Best Player: James Daniels, C, Iowa
Chicago seemed to select the BPA with each of their seven picks. Daniels was a brilliant pick in the second round. Mike Mayock of NFL Network had Daniels ranked 17th-overall on his “2018 NFL Draft Top 100 prospect rankings.”
Daniels also filled a need for the Bears. After cutting left guard Josh Sitton, and losing him to the Miami Dolphins during the NFL free agency period, Chicago has versatility on their offensive line. Their current center Cody Whitehair was drafted with the 56th-overall selection back in 2016. Whitehair was a guard coming out of college, so between he and Daniels, the Bears can fill two spots on their line with the one draft pick.
The Head-Scratcher: Why Not Take an Edge-Rusher?
Leonard Floyd was the team’s first choice in the 2016 NFL Draft. At No. nine-overall Floyd was a high pick. But Floyd has just 11.5 sacks in his two seasons and has played in just 22 games. Chicago also lost starting outside linebacker Pernell Mcphee to the Washington Redskins in free agency. In fact, Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune wrote that general manager Ryan Pace’s approach was a “doughnut hole.” It’s safe to say edge could have been addressed. But Pace must not have deemed it necessary, much like Lynch must have done the same in San Francisco.
The Surprise: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
The Bears signed three key play-makers during the 2018 NFL free agency period. I wrote about Allen Robinson hitting free agency here. Once Robinson was on the open market, the Bears struck quickly and fiercely, signing Robinson to a three-year, $42 million deal. They also signed Super Bowl Champion tight end Trey Burton from Philadelphia and wide receiver Taylor Gabriel from Atlanta, again showing commitment to Mitchell Trubisky and his development. Adding Miller provides depth and a future at an already strong position.
The Steal: Javon Wimms, WR, Georgia
Back in March, I tried my hand at a part-time job with Pro Football Focus. While it didn’t end up working out, I learned a lot and got to watch a few college games in detail. My first was the Oklahoma/Georgia bowl game from this past College Football Playoff. Javon Wimms really stood out. If I remember correctly, he caught the first pass on the game’s first play. Grabbing another talented receiver in the seventh round was great for Chicago’s short-term and long-term depth at the receiver position. But being Wimms, it became a steal.
Most Likely To Turn Heads in Training Camp: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
The 2017 Dick Butkus Award-winning linebacker was the 2018 NFL Draft’s eighth-overall selection. Roquan Smith is lightning fast, the reason he’s most likely to turn heads. One must wonder if those heads will be able to track him though.
Smith played at 225 pounds for the University of Georgia. Since the 2017 season, Smith put on 11 pounds of muscle. Now weighing in at 236 pounds, the 6-foot-1 linebacker has a better chance at stack-and-shed on the NFL level. But his 4.51 40-yard dash is most likely why he was drafted in the top-10. Today’s NFL linebackers must be able to play sideline-to-sideline. Smith probably also reminded Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio of his former pupil Patrick Willis from his time in San Francisco.
The Bears went heavy at linebacker, a strong position of need. After selecting Roquan Smith at No. 8 overall, they drafted Joel Iyiegbuniwe in the fourth round and Kylie Fits in the sixth. These picks give them a starter to place next to Danny Trevathan, pending a winnable camp battle against Nick Kwitkowski, and depth in case of another Trevathan injury.
Even though they didn’t grab an edge, the Bears drafted defensive lineman Billy Nichols in the fifth round. Per Patrick Sheldon of FanSided (dawindycity.com), Nichols will help the first-round choice, Smith. Here is a quote from Shedon’s piece:
The hope for the Bears is that Nichols, and the rest of the defensive line, can have the same effect. Nichols, who played tackle in college, will switch to defensive end in the 3-4 scheme. In doing so, he will join stud defensive end, Akiem Hicks, in an effort to solidify the defensive front. Ideally, Nichols will draw a lot of attention from opposing offensive lines and can engage multiple linemen.
The Last Word
The Chicago Bears added much-needed depth at linebacker while grabbing a future Pro Bowl starter too. They showed commitment to their young franchise quarterback by selecting two receivers, one in which they were willing to sacrifice high-value draft capital to obtain and one in which they stole in the draft’s final round. The Bears also got better in front of Trubisky, adding a potential starting guard/center that was considered a mid-first-rounder by Mayock- another steal. And finally, Pace helped his first pick out by adding quality depth along his defensive line, which should increase competition and put the best three players on the starting 3-4 defensive front.
Final Draft Grade: 8/10 (B-minus)