Ryan Pace’s third draft as general manager of the Bears concluded this past weekend and has left a various range of emotions in its wake. From the trade up from number three overall to a few project players there has been a lot of dissatisfaction with Pace’s 2017 draft but there has also been many who have been defending Pace telling the more skeptical lot to believe. After all, there were those who doubted Pace after selecting Leonard Floyd and now the linebacker looks like a future star.
Standard letter grades will be assigned to each Bears pick from the 2017 draft along with short analysis and a look at their potential.
1st round #2 overall: Mitchell Trubisky, Quarterback
I won’t lie I have very mixed emotions on this. Ryan Pace gave up a lot of capital to get Trubisky, trading the third overall pick, 2017 3rd and 4th rounders, and a 2018 3rd rounder to San Francisco for the opportunity to move up a spot to second overall in order to get his quarterback of the future. That’s a lot of assets for a rebuilding team to give up. But on the other hand if in a year Trubisky takes the reins of the offense and leads the Bears back to relevance then who cares. Further to that point Todd McShay said too “I think they gave up a lot to go get him but if they develop him properly and he’s the guy for a decade no one is going to care…if he winds up being a good starter then it’s worth it.”
Could the Bears have spent the picks they gave up on defensive playmakers sure but everyone knows you can’t go anywhere in the NFL without a good quarterback and Trubisky has the makings of a very good quarterback. He has the size at 6′ 2″ 220lbs, is mobile, and has an elite arm capable of making all types of throws. The only real knock on him is he sometimes gets frazzled in the pocket but with a year of working under Mike Glennon and Mark Sanchez that can be ironed out. I’m strapped in on the Trubisky train and so should you.
2nd round #45 overall: Adam Shaheen, Tight End
Baby Gronk. That’s what Adam Shaheen is being called.
At 6′ 6″ and 278 lbs it’s not hard to see why. Watch some of Shaheen’s tape and you see how athletic he is for his size. Shaheen has decent speed and although by no means a “burner” he can probably outrun most linebackers and some corners. Shaheen had almost 2,000 receiving yards over the past two seasons at Ashland and his ceiling is as a Pro Bowl, all around tight end that is a reliable target for Mitch Trubisky when the time comes. This pick will be knocked because he comes from a division II school but Shaheen fits the mold of a Pace pick. Ultra athletic with huge potential albeit somewhat of a project. Like Trubisky give him a year Bears fans and then wait for the fireworks. Todd McShay said “He’s a project but I think he can be an impact starter. You give Trubisky a security blanket to grow old with.”
With a secondary that needs so much work a defensive player again might have been the better pick here but Shaheen will be invaluable in a couple years. Todd McShay said “He’s a project but I think he can be an impact starter.”
3rd round: traded to San Francisco
4th round, #112 overall: Eddie Jackson, Safety
In the 4th round the Bears finally addressed the defense and addressed the weakest position of safety. Mel Kiper Jr said Jackon has “excellent cover skills as a former corner…he can be a great punt returner.” Those skills alone fill two of the Bears biggest weaknesses especially on special teams. But with Jackson there arguably could have been a better pick. From Alabama Jackson comes with the pedigree of a Nick Saban program but has also dealt with injuries throughout his career, suffering a broken leg just last year. If Jackson can stay healthy, and that’s a big if, then he can potentially be a future starter at free safety but as of right now he’s a big question mark.
4th round, #119 overall: Tarik Cohen, Running Back
This pick may seem silly with budding star Jordan Howard on the roster already but Cohen fits quite nicely. Howard is a bruising runner who will wear defenders down so Cohen can come in and break some ankles. Nicknamed “The Human Joystick” Cohen is great and space and Mel Kiper Jr. describes him as “”the fun player to watch” out of the Bears’ picks. But at just 5′ 6″ Cohen needs to stay healthy and and prove he can capitalize on that potential. Kiper said of Cohen’s size “he’s short but he’s not small…a real dynamic player he runs with determination.”
Cohen’s ceiling is the next Darren Sproles his floor is a change of pace receiving back. Pace could have continued addressing the defense but if Cohen does become the next Sproles then this looks like a brilliant pick.
5th Round, #147 overall: Jordan Morgan, Offensive guard
With statistically one of the better offensive lines in the game Pace selecting a lineman was a bit questionable but he clearly saw something in Morgan while at the senior bowl. Another division II player Morgan will get knocked like Shaheen but think about this, he was DII lineman of the year. That’s pretty impressive and makes Morgan an intriguing developmental piece for the future. He played tackle in college but probably fits better as a guard in the NFL. If Charles Leno Jr fails to continue developing though Morgan could get a look at tackle. Desmond King the corner from Iowa went just a few picks later and would have filled a major need so that is a bit disappointing but clearly Pace saw something in Morgan to pick him.
Recap: In three drafts as the Bears general manager Pace has consistently picked the same typed of players. Good athletes with lots of upside, just upside that may take some time to capitalize on. Project players. Eddie Goldman. Adrian Amos. Leonard Floyd. Jordan Howard.
Ryan Pace has earned the fans trust even if the on field product isn’t quite there yet. We might look back on this draft in two years and wonder why we ever worried.
That being said though, the picks used on Cohen and Morgan could just as easily been used on defensive players and arguably should have been. However remember that the Bears did attack the defense in free agency and clearly Pace is confident in the players they got through the market. Still, a team can never have enough athletes on defense and the Bears only took one defensive player.
Overall grade: C+