Chicago Bears 2018 NFL Draft Hits and Misses

By Ha Kung Wong 

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

Round 1 – No. 8

Roquan Smith (OLB, Georgia)

University of Georgia Stats
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Fumb
Year G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk PD FF
*2015 10 9 11 20 1.5 0.0 0 0
*2016 13 52 43 95 5.0 0.0 1 2
*2017 15 85 52 137 14.0 6.5 2 1
Career 146 106 252 20.5 6.5 3 3

At the 8th Pick, this is just about perfect for Chicago.  Roquan Smith was predicted as the Bears first pick in our Annual Mock Draft, and we still feel the same way.  He was the 2018 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, was a consensus All-American and Butkus Award winner and he showed it on the field anchoring Georgia’s national runner-up defense, and he’s a perfect complement for Danny Trevathan.

In addition, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has been known for coaching big time inside linebackers like Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman in San Francisco, so he understands how best to implement inside linebackers like Smith in his 3-4 defense.

The Bears defense was underrated in 2017, quietly being 14th ranked per DVOA.  Smith gives the Bears an opportunity to continue down that path and provide a solid base limiting opponents’ scoring opportunities and taking the pressure off the relatively young re-built offense headed up by second year QB Mitchell Trubisky.

Round 2 – No. 39

James Daniels (C, Iowa)

After trading the farm away in 2017 to get Trubisky, it makes sense to protect that investment with help along the offensive line.  James Daniels will help that happen.  The Bears needed help inside when Josh Sitton left during the offseason, so this pick makes sense.  The Bears have a QB that can run in Trubisky, and an incredibly talented backfield in Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen, so taking advantage of new head coach Matt Nagy’s inside-zone run schemes will require better run blocking inside. In 2017, the Bears had the third-fewest rushes (266) between the tackles in the NFL and also allowed the highest sack rate (8.1%) in the NFC.  Daniels should be instant impact in correcting those issues.  Again, another solid pick, but one which brings with it some risk from Daniels injury history and position shift.

Round 2 – No. 51

Anthony Miller (WR, Memphis)

University of Memphis Stats
Rece Rece Rece Rece Rush Rush Rush
Year G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds TD
*2015 12 47 694 14.8 5 9 54 2
*2016 13 95 1434 15.1 14 12 69 1
*2017 13 96 1462 15.2 18 10 25 0
Career 238 3590 15.1 37 31 148 3

I love what the Bears have done so far with the re-built receiving core.  They signed free-agent WRs Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel and TE Trey Burton to pair with 2nd year Adam Shaheen.  That alone has me excited, not to mention the return of former first round pick Kevin White (even with the injury history and uncertain role).  But Anthony Miller is the icing on top.  The Bears did have to trade their 2019 second-round pick and pick 105 in this year’s fourth round to New England to move up and draft Miller, who still carries some risk after missing time in the offseason due to a fracture in his right foot. But Miller should play right away, health permitting, and looks to be a nice target lining up inside or outside for Trubisky.

Round 4 – No. 115

Joel Iyiegbuniwe (LB, Western Kentucky)

Western Kentucky Stats
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Fumb
Year G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk PD FF
*2014 1 1 0 1 0.0 0.0 0 0
*2015 9 14 5 19 1.0 0.0 0 0
*2016 13 39 25 64 10.0 3.5 3 1
*2017 13 54 63 117 11.5 2.0 1 2
Career 108 93 201 22.5 5.5 4 3

Here’s where I start to question the Bears picks.  It’s clear that the Bears think that defense is still a priority, particularly at linebacker with the departures of Christian Jones, Jerrell Freeman, Willie Young and Pernell McPhee in the offseason. I personally don’t see Joel Iyiegbuniwe as a standout, but I suppose every 4th round pick is a gamble of some sort.  His college numbers, unfortunately, don’t show much impact play with only 5.5 career sacks at Western Kentucky, most of which were in 2016.  And all his Combine numbers were either dead set in the middle, or near the bottom half among linebackers.  The Bears appear to be set at inside linebacker now that they have Roquan Smith, so perhaps he plays backup or situational outside linebacker while also playing special teams.

Round 5 – No. 145

Bilal Nichols (DT, Delaware)

Bilal Nichols played at FCS school Delaware, but did standout as second team all conference as a Junior and first team all conference as a Senior.  And he did manage a 4.95 40-yard dash and had 29 Bench Press reps at the NFL Combine, placing him in the top half for defensive lineman on both.  It’s unclear where he fits with the Bears, or how he will acclimate to play in the NFL, so he may be more of a project or possible special teamer.  I suppose having extra defensive linemen to rotate in is always helpful, but this might be more of a roll of the dice.

Round 6 – No. 181

Kylie Fitts (DE, Utah)

UCLA & Utah Stats
Tack Tack Tack Tack Tack Def Fumb
Year School G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk PD FF
*2013 UCLA 1 1 0 1 1.0 0.0 0 0
*2015 Utah 12 20 20 40 7.0 7.0 10 4
*2016 Utah 1 2 2 4 3.0 1.5 0 0
*2017 Utah 8 14 9 23 3.0 3.0 1 1
Career Overall 37 31 68 14.0 11.5 11 5

Kylie Fitts is the type of pick I like to see late.  Someone who had really high potential in college, but was derailed due to no fault of his own.  He originally signed with UCLA as a four-star recruit and top 10 defensive end prospect nationally but transferred after one lackluster season there to Utah. He earned a starting spot for 11 games played in 2015 and excelled with 41 tackles, 8 for a loss, and 7 sacks, and ranked 9th in the FBS with 4 forced fumbles. All indicators were pointing up for Fitts going forward, but a foot injury in 2016 and various other injuries in 2017 limited his effectiveness.  Assuming he’s healthy now, I think this could be lightening in a bottle.

Round 7 – No. 224

Javon Wims (WR, Georgia)

University of Georgia Stats
Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year G Rec Yds Avg TD
*2016 8 17 190 11.2 1
*2017 14 45 720 16.0 7
Career 62 910 14.7 8

This is another potential steal.  Javon Wims has an interesting story, including breaking his ankle while playing football and working at a clothing store before going to community college and becoming a top-five JUCO receiver prospect.  He signed with Georgia for 2016, and was an instant contributor catching his first touchdown in the team’s bowl game. Wims led the Bulldogs with 45 receptions for 720 yards and 7 touchdowns in the team’s SEC championship season, having the 7th most receiving touchdowns in the SEC.  His potential is off the charts, and he’s just beginning, but there’s tons of risk here.  But that’s type of pick you want to make in the 7th round of the draft.  If he can make a quarter of the highlight reel catches he made in his senior season, he’s going to be a steal.  He shows amazing drive and effort, and has no problems going up to high point 50/50 balls.  If nothing else, the Bears could use a solid WR4/5 in their rebuilt core.

Bears 2018 Draft Grade: B+

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