As I wrote earlier in the month, I participate in a yearly mock draft with representatives from the 31 other teams. Though not any better than most mock drafts in terms of the specifics, this draft has annually done a pretty good job of predicting general trends in terms of what kinds of players will go where.
The initial draft was run in late March just before my post and indicated that four quarterbacks would go before the Bears pick at #8 overall. This would have been an ideal scenario for the Bears. Unfortunately, die to events that took place just after that time, it was decided to re-draft. Although the results weren’t quite as good for the Bears, it is still of interest to take a good look at what happened. Here’s the way the first 7 picks broke down:
||New York Giants
||New York Jets
||Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This did not leave me with a lot of palatable choices.
The way I see it, this draft has three really good players: Barkley, Chubb and Nelson. The best of all worlds is if one of these guys falls to the Bears. That’s unlikely to happen, even if four quarterbacks do go in the top seven, which didn’t happen here. The best chance the Bears have is that the teams in front of them decide they don’t value offensive guard enough to take one that high and Nelson drops to them. I’m not holding my breath.
The rest of these non-quarterbacks from about the 4th best player to about the 15th best are the same guy – talented but very flawed.
I considered three players at this pick. Ultimately I went with Tremaine Edmunds. Edmunds is big and athletic and, at only 19 years old, he has a ton of upside. With a father that was an NFL All-Pro tight end, he also has the blood lines. The drawback is that he wasn’t all that productive in college, having only 5.5 sacks last season. That’s a little disturbing if you are drafting him as an outside pass rusher, which I am.
Many will argue that I should have taken Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith here and I did think about it. Smith has good speed and good instincts and he’s a particularly popular pick amongst members of the local media. What few of those media members point out is that Smith played last year at 225 pounds. That’s really small and it showed in his play as he had a hard time taking on blocks against the run. And that was in college. In fairness, he’s gotten himself up to 235 pounds but he’s still going to be very under-sized and I couldn’t bring myself to take a risk on him.
The third guy I considered was Alabama safety Minka Fitzpatrick. Not taking Fitzpatrick may have been a mistake on my part because I like him a lot. He played at Alabama with current Bears safety Eddie Jackson and, like Jackson, is probably as pro ready as you can be. I think Fitzpatrick has the highest floor of the three players I seriously considered.
There were two drawbacks:
- Like Jackson, he’s really a free safety. I still think either he or Jackson would be an upgrade over strong safety Adrian Amos. But Fitzpatrick isn’t a perfect fit.
- He’s not known for having good ball skills, having had only one interception in 2017.
I had something special in mind when I considered Fitzpatrick – the big nickel defense. This is a nickel defense but with a third safety instead of a third cornerback. Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio had good success with this formation when he was with the 49ers. At the time he had Jimmy Ward to play that third safety spot but he really hasn’t had anyone like that since he’s been with the Bears. Fitzpatrick might fit this defense to the as the versatile third safety.
In the end, I kept it simple and went with the best player at a position of need: Edmunds. But it wasn’t a slam dunk.
Other interesting things to come out of this draft that fans might want to keep an eye on Thursday night:
- Our reps avoided drafting quarterback Josh Allen like he had the plague. He dropped to the Redskins at #13 overall. I get it. The lack of accuracy is scary. But I’ll be surprised if this guy doesn’t go in the top 6 picks.There is a reason guys like Allen rocket up the board the minute coaches start to get involved in the draft process. The scouts look at the whole package and evaluate what they see. But there’s no doubt about the fact that there are all kinds of coaches in the league who are saying, “Look at that arm! I’m a great coach and I can fix the rest.” In fact, if I read Cleveland head coach Hue Jackson right, he’s pushing for Allen as we speak. I can’t see general manager John Dorsey letting him have his way with Sam Darnold on the board, though.
Football coaches are not known for their humility. Four quarterbacks in the first six picks. It may take at least one trade for it to happen but it still looks to me like it’s practically a lock.
- Five guards went in the first round, which is practically unheard of. Admittedly the position has become increasingly important as coaches have given more value to the idea that quarterbacks have to be able to step up into a clean pocket. I’ll be interested to see if Isaiah Wynn, James Daniels and Will Hernandez find their way into the first round. It seems to be a high position of need for a lot of teams.
- Only two defensive tackles, no tight ends and, even more surprising, only one offensive tackle in the first round. Again, practically unheard of. These are evidently extremely weak positions in the draft along with wide receiver. Lots of teams with big needs here are going to come up short unless there’s a lot of talent in the later rounds that I’m not seeing.
- It’s going to be really interesting to see where Denzel Ward falls. Out mock has predicted the Packers at 14. That’s pretty low. Most seem to think he’s going in the top ten. I have my doubts. At 5’11″ you’d really like him to be a couple inches taller.It says here Josh Jackson goes before Ward. We’ll see.
- Courtland Sutton went ahead of Calvin Ridley, who dropped to the Seahawks at #35 overall. This is going to be another interesting situation to watch. At one point, Ridley was going to the Bears at #8 in a lot of mocks. I wonder if his fall in our mock reflects how our respective teams actually feel.The wide receivers in this draft are really weak. It doesn’t look like any of them really has the stuff to be a #1 guy. I think we’ve valued them correctly and some people are going to be surprised.
- Vita Vea went to the Dolphins at 11. For the Dolphins that’s a reasonable pick because they’re going to need a run stuffing defensive tackle without Ndamukong Suh. But having said that, he brings very little pass rush having made only 3.5 sacks in 2017. I wonder how many teams are going to want to draft a guy like that in the first round. He’s going to be a guy to watch.
- Marcus Davenport fell to the Lions at #20 overall. I saw him going earlier than this. He’s raw and from a small school but see my comment about coaches in comment #1 above. I’ll be surprised if he gets that far.
Should be a great night.