CHISportsNation

With the 2016 NFL Draft less than 2 months away and the Combine complete, analysts are creating mock drafts and fan forums are buzzing with speculation. There is no clear-cut answer for the Bears’ roster needs. Like every NFL Draft, the picks will depend heavily on who the preceding teams select. Although, there are many options on the table that could potentially make an immediate impact on the Bears’ 2016-17 season.

There is always the possibility that the Bears will choose a player that doesn’t necessarily fill one of their needs, but is too great of an opportunity to pass up. However, there are plenty of other glaring holes in the roster to be considered: outside linebacker, defensive tackle, cornerback, offensive tackle, inside linebacker, and even quarterback (at rounds 2+).

This is a list of potential draft selections for the Chicago Bears at each position mentioned above. Some players have been omitted from the list since they are likely to be gone before the Bears’ first selection.

  • Outside Linebacker                                                                                                                                                                       
    • Myles Jack, UCLA (6’1″, 245 lbs.)     jackMost would consider Jack the number one prospect at outside linebacker, or even the number one prospect overall. There is a very good chance that he will be off the board before the Bears’ 11th pick. He showed his versatility at UCLA by playing on both offense and defense. Unfortunately, his junior season was brought to a halt after only three games due to a knee injury. Despite the injury, I’m sure Chicago would be more than happy to use their first selection to pick him up.
      • 2014 stats: 87 tackles, 8 tackles for losses, 1 interception, 113 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns on offense
    • Noah Spence, Eastern Kentucky (6’2″, 251 lbs.)SpenceSpence had a stellar sophomore year at Ohio State before failing two drug tests and seeking treatment for drug addiction. After his recovery, he transferred to Eastern Kentucky and showed he was still a viable first-round draft pick. His versatility means that he can be considered a “hybrid” between defensive end and outside linebacker.
      • 2015 stats: 63 tackles, 22.5 tackles for losses, 11.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries
    • Leonard Floyd, Georgia (6’6″, 244 lbs.)floydFloyd had an impressive showing at the combine. His height helped him place among the top performers in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump, and broad jump. In 2015, he was one of the finalists for the Butkus Award (The annual award for the top collegiate linebackers.)
      • 2015 stats: 74 tackles, 10.5 tackles for losses, 4.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery
  • Defensive Tackle                                                                                                                                                                       
    • A’Shawn Robinson, Alabama (6’4″, 307 lbs.)   robinsonRobinson is widely considered the top prospect for the defensive tackle position. Many mock drafts have the Bears selecting him with their first round pick. He is unusually athletic and has a body shaped more like a linebacker than an interior lineman. Expect him to be one of many ‘Bama defenders to go in the first and second round.
      • 2015 stats: 46 tackles, 7.5 tackles for losses,3.5 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery
    • Andrew Billings, Baylor (6’1″, 311 lbs.)                         Andrew BillingsBillings may not be as tall as most NFL defensive linemen, but what he lacks in height, he makes up in work ethic and aggressiveness. He is one of the younger players entering the draft, but you wouldn’t know it by watching him play.
      • 2015 stats: 39 tackles, 14 tackles for losses, 5.5 sacks, and 1 forced fumble
    • Sheldon Rankins, Louisville (6’1″, 299 lbs.) rankinsRankins is another defensive tackle that may be considered undersized for the NFL. However, he is explosive with outstanding footwork for a “big man.” His flexibility means he could fit into a five-technique or a three-technique format. Last year, he had his best season and made a spot for himself among the top DT prospects.
      • 2015 stats: 58 tackles, 13 tackles for losses, 6 sacks, and 1 fumble recovery
  • Cornerback                                                                                                                                                                                 
    • Kendall Fuller, Virginia Tech (5’11”, 187 lbs.)fullerSomething tells me Fuller would fit in with the other cornerbacks on the Bears’ roster. That may just be because his brother, Kyle, is going into his third year in Chicago. Kendall began college with big expectations, and he lived up to them. That is, until he sustained an unfortunate knee injury which led him to forego his junior season and enter the NFL draft.
      • 2014 stats: 54 tackles, 4.5 tackles for losses, 13 passes defended, 2 interceptions, and 47 interception return yards
    • Vernon Hargreaves III, Florida (5’10”, 204 lbs.)   hargreavesHargreaves is a high profile draft prospect just behind Jalen Ramsey of Florida State in most rankings. There must be something in the water down in Florida because Hargreaves earned first-team all SEC honors in all 3 of his collegiate seasons. His vertical jump is among the best, allowing him to go up for jump-balls and consistently come down with them.
      • 2015 stats: 33 tackles, 1 tackle for a loss, 4 passes defended, 4 interceptions, and 152 interception return yards
  • Offensive Tackle                                                                                                                                                                       
    • Laremy Tunsil, Ole Miss (6’5″, 310 lbs.) tunsilTunsil has had a plethora of issues in the last few years. He has had to deal with injuries, domestic assault charges (dropped), and an NCAA suspension. However, that hasn’t changed his ranking as the number one offensive tackle in the draft. Some mock drafts have Laremy being selected at number one overall.
    • Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame (6’6″, 312 lbs.)  stanleyMany were expecting to see Stanley in last year’s draft, but he decided to play college ball for one more year instead. Notre Dame didn’t live up to their potential in 2015, but Ronnie did his job well. He is built to be a star NFL lineman and will likely be gone before the second round.
    • Jack Conklin, Michigan State (6’6″, 308 lbs.) conklinConklin will probably be the third offensive tackle drafted, but don’t let that fool you. He started at the bottom with no scholarship offers from division-1 schools. When Michigan State realized his potential, they allowed him to be a walk-on. He was an integral part of quarterback Connor Cook’s success, and he could likely be the same for Jay Cutler.
  • Inside Linebacker                                                                                                                                                                    
    • Jaylon Smith, Notre Dame (6’2″, 223 lbs.)smithSmith was undoubtedly the top linebacker prospect a few months ago. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL and MCL in the Fiesta Bowl versus Ohio State. Despite the obvious risk, some teams are still showing interest in him. He may be a top-20 pick. Other teams’ skepticism could be an opportunity for the Bears.
      • 2015 stats: 115 tackles, 9 tackles for losses, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries
    • Reggie Ragland, Alabama (6’1″, 247 lbs.)    raglandRagland is top-notch when it comes to young linebackers. He was a pivotal part of the intimidating defense that we saw from the Crimson Tide in 2015. Earning SEC Defensive Player of the Year and winning a national championship is no mean feat.
      • 2015 stats: 102 tackles, 6.5 tackles for losses, 2.5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles
  • Quarterback (These are not necessarily the top prospects at QB, they are the picks that I think may be realistic for the Bears after the first round.)
    • Paxton Lynch, Memphis (6’7″, 244 lbs.) lynchIf Lynch is still on the board for the Bears’ second or third pick, it could be a great selection. He surprised everyone last year with an 8-0 start to the season, beating some very good teams along the way. Yet, there was a lull in his performance towards the end of the season. In spite of this, he is still expected to be drafted in the first or second round.
      • 2015 stats: 66.8% completion, 3778 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 4 interceptions
    • Connor Cook, Michigan State (6’4″, 217 lbs.)cookCook’s senior stats were not outstanding, but when you watch him play, it is clear that he’s built to be an NFL-style quarterback. In 2015, he led the Spartans to a College Football Playoff spot before losing to SEC powerhouse Alabama. His capacity to learn and improve could prove to be invaluable to Chicago’s offense.
      • 2015 stats: 56.1% completion, 3131 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions
    • Christian Hackenberg, Penn State (6’4″, 223 lbs.) hackenbergLike Cook, Hackenberg did not have a standout season last year. Additionally, that season ended with a shoulder injury. Despite the downsides, he is still recognized as a potential star. Many have doubts that Christian can make it as an NFL quarterback, but it’s possible the Bears staff will see potential in him.
      • 2015 stats: 53.5% completion, 2525 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions

Check back here on chisportsnation.com for any updates on potential draft prospects for the Chicago Bears.

2 Comments

  1. TJ

    March 8, 2016 at 5:32 AM

    Nice article! It will be interesting to see where some of these guys will end up for sure.

  2. Martin

    March 8, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    Lots of info in your article. It is written very well with a lot to look forward to.

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