Who Should the Chicago Bears Draft in the First Three Rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft?
The 2016 NFL Draft is in the horizon and all 32 teams will be putting all that intelligence gathering from scouts, the Senior Bowl, the NFL Combine and Pro Days on the line. We’ve already discussed how we think the first round will go in our Twitter Mock Draft (Part 1 & Part 2) and provided an update after the big trades. Now I’d like to focus on my team, the Chicago Bears, and who I think they should look at selecting in the first three rounds.
First Round – No. 11 Overall
Jack Conklin – OT OR Leonard Floyd – OLB
There’s two ways the Bears can go in the first round, and in my opinion, although it’s much more exciting to add skill position players like RB Ezekiel Elliott, neither of those options are at an offensive skill position.
On the one hand, there’s defense, since that was a serious issue for the Bears in 2015 (and 2014 for that matter), but they spent significantly to address that issue acquiring inside linebacker help in Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman.
On the other hand, the Bears appear committed to QB Jay Cutler, and for once, I feel like his progression in 2015 was for real. So keeping him healthy and upright makes a lot of sense, which means shoring up the offensive line at the tackle position. The Bears began to address that issue during free agency, picking up Bobby Massie to take over at right tackle, which should allow former first-round pick Kyle Long to return to guard, where he’s a more natural fit. Of course, that still leaves left tackle unresolved.
The Bears could go with more defense in the first round (on the line or at cornerback), but I think that defense is quite deep in this year’s draft. Jack Conklin is an immediate starter at left tackle, with the long arms (35 inches) and agility to protect Cutler. Plus he’s strong at run blocking, which should give the remixed Forte-less backfield some additional opportunities. So I think, assuming OT Ronnie Stanley isn’t available, Conklin is the best choice.
But I wouldn’t be completely opposed to looking to build more on defense either, particularly if OLB Leonard Floyd is available. He has incredible speed and has versatility around the defense, which could be incredibly imposing with Trevathan and Freeman. It would nice to see the “Monsters” back in the “Midway”.
Second Round – No. 41 Overall
Germain Ifedi – OT OR Hunter Henry – TE
If the Bears miss, or decide not to take, Conklin in the first round, then I’m pushing for a solid offensive tackle in the second round, and Germain Ifedi is likely to be the best left available of the bunch. Sure, he’s more of a fit at right tackle, but he was once thought to have left tackle skills and has shown versatility at guard. He’s very solid in pass protection, and can be an immediate impact player along the line. Perhaps he won’t be the answer at left tackle, but his versatility limits the danger that he’ll be a bust.
Assuming the Bears do get Conklin or another offensive tackle in the first round, then I like the idea of grabbing the best TE in the draft, Hunter Henry. Zach Miller was terrific last year, but he’s had a relatively extensive history of injuries. Past injury does not predict future injury, but without any depth now that Martellus Bennett is gone, leaves the Bears relatively vulnerable at the position. Henry was a terrific blocking and catching TE in college, who didn’t have a single drop his senior season. Having another solid option at TE will provide insurance for Miller while accounting for the long term future of the offense.
Third Round – No. 72 Overall
Joshua Perry – OLB OR Artie Burns – CB OR Braxton Miller – WR
At this point of the draft, I think the Bears should take advantage of the particularly deep defensive talent in the draft, which is why I preferred shoring up the offensive line earlier.
If the Bears decided not to take Floyd in the first round, or another OLB prior to the third round, I like taking Joshua Perry. Perry won’t be a high profile pickup, but he was the core of the Ohio State Buckeyes’ National Champion defense in 2014, leading the team with 124 total tackles (which was an amazing 32 tackles more than the second leading tackler on the team). He followed that up in in 2015 with 105 tackles, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors. He plays hard, works hard and has a big motor. He’d be a nice core addition to the defense.
If the Bears already have an OLB and OT from the first two rounds, I like taking CB Artie Burns. The Bears secondary could use a boost, and what better way than adding this speedy track star who broke a 38-year-old American record (amongst athletes under the age of 21) with a time of 7.68 seconds in the 60-yard hurdles in 2014. But he’s not only fast, as he also led the ACC in interceptions last year (6). He’ll be a little bit of a work in progress, as he’s far better in man press coverage than anything else, but he’s a worthy addition to a building Bears defense.
Assuming the Bears didn’t take a TE or WR in the first two rounds, I also wouldn’t mind taking a swing at the upside encompassed by WR Braxton Miller. His move to WR was almost seamless in college, and aside from some questionable route running, he thoroughly impressed onlookers by finishing fourth on the team with 26 catches for 341 yards and three touchdowns, adding 260 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries. The upside is certainly there, and the mental toughness was clearly demonstrated by his commitment to a position change one year after being one of the most highly touted QBs in college football. There’s a lot to like, but I’m assuming many other teams will feel the same way, so the 72nd pick might be a little too late. If not, this would be a very interesting development.