Less is More: Chicago Bears 2019 Draft Analysis and Grades

By Ha Kung Wong

Twitter: @FBGarbageTime

Coming into the 2019 NFL Draft, the Bears had very little capital.  But that’s OK, as they gave up their 1st and 6th Round pick last year for Khalil Mack, who has been more than sufficient value, even with the 2020 3rd Round pick thrown in for good measure.  And the Bears also had given away their 2nd Round pick last year to trade up and get Anthony Miller, who has been a solid addition to an offense that needed more weapons.

So it was somewhat surprising for the Bears to give up even more draft capital to move up 14 spots in the 3rd Round:

Bears receive:
No. 73, No. 205

Patriots receive:
No. 87, No. 162, 2020 4th

With all the trading done, the Bears had only five total draft picks (3rd, 4th, 6th and two 7th), tied with the Jets and Eagles for the least total number of picks in the Draft, and the only one of the 3 without a 1st Round pick.

Having the least amount of draft capital of any team in the NFL is tough place to be, so was less actually more for the Bears in 2019 or was it a draft to forget?  Let’s take a look.

3rd Round – Pick 73

David Montgomery – RB – Iowa State

Rushing & Receiving Stats
Rush Rush Rush Rush Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
2016 12 109 563 5.2 2 13 129 9.9 0
*2017 13 258 1146 4.4 11 36 296 8.2 0
*2018 12 257 1216 4.7 13 22 157 7.1 0
Career 624 2925 4.7 26 71 582 8.2 0

With Jordan Howard traded to the Eagles, and to a lesser extent Benny Cunningham leaving in free agency, it was clear to me that the Bears would look to draft a RB.  And I previously noted on our Podcast that the 3rd Round is where they should get one.  So I had the pick and position right, but I didn’t predict the actual player, who ended up being David Montgomery.

Montgomery took over as the lead back at Iowa State in 2017 and 2018, totaling a whopping 2,362 yards and 24 TDs on 515 carries.  He also caught a total of 71 passes for 582 yards over his three year college career, his highest single season being 2017 with 36 receptions for 296 yards.  His career long 4.7 yards per carry and 8.2 yards per reception averages demonstrate solid and consistent efficiency running and catching the ball.

He has good size (5′ 11″ and 216 lbs.), vision, toughness and physicality to be a an every down back in the NFL.  His vision allows him to quickly find gaps and his power allows him to run through linebackers.

There’s some concern over his usage (2nd and 1st most carries in the Big 12 in 2017 and 2018, respectively) and his lack of breakaway speed based on his uninspiring Combine performance (4.63 second 40-yard dash which was 7th worst among RBs).  But the upside is definitely there, particularly for a 3rd round pick.

Pro Football Focus graded Montgomery as the second best RB in the draft behind only Josh Jacobs and went further by noting that he was the hardest RB to bring down in the FBS over the past two seasons forcing the most missed tackles of any RB (185) over the last two seasons.  And he has amazing ball security even after contact, with only 3 fumbles in 695 touches over two seasons.  Put that all together and you have a solid RB with good instincts that won’t put the ball on the ground.  He’ll be a big addition to Tarik Cohen and Mike Davis and will immediately vie for starting snaps.

GRADE: B+

4th Round – Pick 126

Riley Ridley – WR – Georgia

Receiving & Rushing Stats
Rece Rece Rece Rece Rush Rush Rush Rush
Year G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD
*2016 6 12 238 19.8 2 3 41 13.7 0
*2017 8 14 218 15.6 2 1 5 5.0 0
*2018 14 43 559 13.0 9 0 0 0
Career 69 1015 14.7 13 4 46 11.5 0

Riley Ridley, younger brother of upcoming NFL star, and former 1st Round pick, Calvin Ridley, has been getting his fair share of hype recently.  So much so that most NFL pundits had him pegged as a 2nd Round target.  But many WRs slid this year (including D.K. Metcalf who slide to the end of the 2nd Round and Hakeem Butler who slide to the beginning of the 4th Round), so value for WR-seeking teams got pretty high.  The Bears didn’t necessarily need a WR with Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller ingrained as the starting three, but getting Ridley was simply too much value to pass on in the fourth round.

Although not having the raw stats that teams normally look for in top end WRs due to competition with numerous targets in Georgia, and having an uninspiring performance at the Combine, he demonstrated excellent route running, strong hands and a wide catch radius in college.  He makes up for lack of separation with excellent body control and a terrific ability to high point 50-50 balls.  For what he’ll add to the Bears receiving core, he was a steal in Round 4, even with the potential issues.

GRADE: A-

6th Round – Pick 205

Duke Shelley – DB – Kansas State

Once you get to the 6th Round, you’re likely taking some flyers and hoping for some lightening in a bottle.  The Bears were looking for cornerback depth behind Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara and Buster Skrine, so taking Shelley here makes sense.  Shelley had 165 tackles and 8 interceptions starting in 37 games over 4 years at Kansas State, but a toe injury cut short the final 5 games of his senior season.  Shelley was not invited to the Combine, but showed well at his Pro Day in March.  He could be a nice fit as a slot corner based on his size and measurables, but he lined up at left outside corner 83.3% of the time last season, so he may have a steep learning curve to be effective in the slot, plus he’ll have to contend with Skrine starting in the slot.  This in addition to the injury makes for a fairly speculative draft pick.

GRADE: C+

Round 7 – Pick 222

Kerrith Whyte Jr. – RB – Florida Atlantic

Rushing & Receiving Stats
Rush Rush Rush Rush Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year G Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
2016 11 43 145 3.4 1 5 21 4.2 0
*2017 14 55 347 6.3 2 7 46 6.6 0
2018 12 134 866 6.5 8 10 160 16.0 2
Career 232 1358 5.9 11 22 227 10.3 2
Kick Return Stats
Kick Kick Kick Kick
Year G Ret Yds Avg TD
2016 11 39 1002 25.7 0
*2017 14 23 568 24.7 1
2018 12 19 545 28.7 1
Career 81 2115 26.1 2

If the 6th Round is taking a flyer, the 7th Round is a complete shot in the dark.  So it’s tough for me to be critical of any choices made this late.  That being said Kerrith Whyte isn’t a bad pick here.  He was behind standout RB Devin Singletary at FAU, who actually was someone I thought the Bears should consider in the 3rd Round, but he does have potential.  He has fairly limited usage as an RB at FAU, only compiling 232 carries in 3 years, so there’s plenty of run left on the tread.  Plus he performed well as a kick returner, averaging 26.1 yards over 81 kick returns.  Tarik Cohen, David Montgomery and Mike Davis likely will form the starting backfield, but there’s always room for a backup, assuming Whyte manages to find work on special teams.

GRADE: B

Round 7 – Pick 238

Stephen Denmark – DB – Valdosta State

Denmark, a converted wide receiver listed at 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, ran two 4.46-second 40-yard dashes with a vertical of 43.5 inches and a 130 inch broad jump at his Pro Day, which would have been the top vertical jump among DBs at the Combine.  That’s impressive, both in terms of Pro Day results and size.  But Denmark only has one year’s experience at cornerback, so there’s no telling how long he’ll get up to speed in the NFL, or if he even will.  But his raw ability looks promising, and the upside alone is worth the pick this late.

GRADE: A-

OVERALL DRAFT GRADE: B+

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.