Former Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel takes a “first look at the 2016 NFL draft”. It is, in fact, more of a look back at 2015:
“In the 2015 Draft, the Bears got four players who already have given strong contributions to this team. That is a very high number for any draft. As we all know, first-round pick Kevin White has not played, so he will in essence be a bonus addition to the next draft class.
“Second-round pick Eddie Goldman is the starter at nose tackle and has had an excellent season to date. He is, in fact, a better inside pass rusher than was predicted. Third-pick Hroniss Grasu is the starter at center and, while his play has been up and down, he has a bright future. He just needs to add some strength and bulk. That should happen this coming off season.
“Fourth-round selection Jeremy Langford has started some games at running back and right now is splitting time with Matt Forte. He looks like a legitimate NFL running back. Fifth-round selection Adrian Amos has been a starting safety all season and his play has been a pleasant surprise.”
If there was ever a reason for optimism amongst Bears fans, it was the under the radar success of the 2015 draft.
Unfortunately, the only playmaker in the group above is (arguably) Goldman. And that’s projecting a bit. Though all of the players above are valuable contributors, even if White turns out to have the goods the Bears didn’t hit the jackpot with many impact players. Grasu needs to develop, Langford has been good but not dynamic, Amos almost never shows up around the ball in coverage.
That all has to change this year. The Bears have needs all over the field and they are likely to truly take the best available player at their draft position. General manager Ryan Pace will have had an entire season and offseason to prepare for the draft. All-in-all, I think the odds are as good as they will ever be that the Bears will select more elite talent. They’d better.