Chicago Bears April Scouting Report
The 2020 NFL Draft will take place from April 23rd-25th. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, it will be fully virtual, meaning that NFL GMs will be drafting players on their computers at home just like you and I do during fantasy drafts! This ought to be interesting. The Bears have no first-round picks, two second-rounders (#43 and #50), no third or fourth-rounders, one fifth-rounder, two sixth-rounders and two seventh-rounders. Given the team's lack of picks, I fully expect GM Ryan Pace to trade down with at least one (if not both) of his second-rounders to pick up some extra picks in the middle rounds.
Quarterback (need: medium)
Having addressed this position with the acquisition of QB Nick Foles, it seems unlikely that the Bears will use a high draft pick on a quarterback. But QB Mitch Trubisky doesn't look like a long-term solution at the position, and even if Foles becomes the starter, he wouldn't be a long-term solution either. So if Pace sees a signal caller in the second round who he thinks can become the starter after a year or two, it wouldn't be a huge shock to see him pull the trigger on one. QB Tyler Bray will return as the team's third-stringer as the team re-signed him late last month.
Quarterbacks who could still be available for the Bears' picks in the second round are QB Jake Fromm from Georgia, QB Jacob Eason from Washington, and QB Jalen Hurts from Oklahoma. Fromm lacks elite arm strength and athleticism but seems to have everything else that teams want (i.e. smarts, accuracy, character, leadership). Eason has great size (6-6) and the rocket arm that Fromm doesn't but lacks mobility and struggled with inconsistency (especially when pressured). Hurts has good intangibles and athleticism (4.59 40) but also lacks elite arm strength and struggled with questionable decision making on the field.
Day 3 options include Washington State QB Anthony Gordon, FIU QB James Morgan, and Hawaii QB Cole McDonald. Gordon intrigues me the most. He doesn't have a huge arm but has a quick delivery and throws with good touch and accuracy. He also has the ability to make the "funny body" throws with improvised arm angles that Pace likes (one of the reasons why he drafted Trubisky). Gordon has average size and athleticism, and his decision making (16 INTs in 2019) and footwork need improvement, but he looks like a player who can at least be a solid backup and potentially become a starter in the right system.
Runningback (need: low)
The thought of a more dynamic, speedy threat who could complement RB David Montgomery's power and allow RB Tarik Cohen to be more of a receiver is an interesting one, but ultimately the Bears just have bigger needs in what is going to be a "win now" 2020 season (whenever we have it). If Pace makes a selection here, it would probably be on Day 3.
Wide receiver (need: high)
Look at all the speed in the Chiefs' receiving corps, then compare it to the Bears' group. It's no contest. The Bears need more fast, dynamic weapons here, especially with the loss of WR Taylor Gabriel and the lengthy injury history of WR Anthony Miller. Some speedy receivers who might be available with the Bears' second-rounders are Colorado WR Laviska Shenault, TCU WR Jalen Reagor, Penn State WR KJ Hamler, Arizona State WR Brandon Aiyuk, and Texas WR Devin Duvernay.
From the group above, Shenault is my favorite because his physicality (6-1 227) reminds me of WR Anquan Boldin, one of my all-time favorite receivers. The guy is like a fast wrecking ball, but that physical style led to multiple injuries in college. He had core muscle surgery shortly after the Combine, but according to NFL.com, a doctor who watched Shenault go through drills earlier this month said that he believes the receiver will be 100% for full football activities by this weekend. He needs to work on his route running, but he is just awfully fun to watch because of his explosive speed/power combo.
Reagor (5-10 206) is a pure burner with great run-after-catch skills and a surprising ability to make contested catches despite being a bit undersized, but drops have been a problem for him. Hamler eats up cushion in a hurry with his blazing speed and is electric after the catch but is more undersized than Reagor (5-9 178) and also has inconsistent hands. Aiyuk (6-0 205) also is fast with great run-after-catch ability but struggled some against physical coverage. He may go in the first round. Duvernay (5-10 200) has track star speed (4.39 40), great hands and YAC skills, but his tight hips impair his route running ability.
Some bigger wideouts who run well for their size are Notre Dame WR Chase Claypool, Baylor WR Denzel Mims, and USC WR Michael Pittman Jr. Claypool is being looked at by some as a tight end due to his size (6-4 238) but surprised many with a wideout-level 4.42 40 at the Combine. He doesn't have the YAC skills of the other receivers on my list, but his intriguing size/speed combo and ability to make contested catches could make him a deep threat of a different kind in the NFL. Mims (6-3 207, 4.38 40) and Pittman Jr. (6-4 223, 4.52 40) both have good build-up speed, but Pittman is better at making contested catches. I think the Bears could use more of a WR Tyreek Hill-like (i.e. small and quick) burner for their offense, so I think Hamler or Reagor might be the most likely candidates for selection here. If Pace opts for a bigger wideout, a player like Pittman could step in as a #2 receiver and allow Miller to play in the slot. Because of the depth at receiver in this draft, Pace may opt to wait until after the second round (possibly with a trade down pick) to address this position.
Tight end (need: high)
The Bears released TE Trey Burton on Friday despite still owing him $4 million guaranteed, perhaps increasing the likelihood that Pace will select a tight end with one of his second-rounders (or a pick he gets in a trade down). Then again, Pace seems to generally be clueless about this position (TE Adam Shaheen is still on the roster for now, and remember TE Dion Sims?), so who knows what he's planning. Chicago brought back TE J.P. Holtz on a one-year deal on Friday. The Bears could have their pick of the top tight ends in the second round, but there isn't really a can't miss player in this class.
Notre Dame TE Cole Kmet, FAU TE Harrison Bryant, Dayton TE Adam Trautman, and UCLA TE Devin Asiasi are considered to be among the top tight ends in this year's draft. Kmet has good size (6-6 262) and speed (4.7 40) but needs to work on his blocking. Bryant (6-5 243), who won the Mackey Award as a senior, has good athleticism (4.73 40) and is a more polished blocker than Kmet. He's my favorite prospect of this group. Bears fans probably are wary of Trautman (6-5 255) after seeing how much of a bust Shaheen (another FCS product) turned out to be, but he has good hands and athleticism. Asiasi (6-3 257) has good athleticism (4.73 40) but needs to be more physical as a blocker and a pass catcher.
Offensive line (need: high)
Pace clearly stated after last season that O-line play needed to improve, but he's only made some minor signings so far, so there's a decent chance that he takes an O-lineman fairly high. With four starters largely penciled in, the one spot that needs upgrading the most is right guard, unless a good tackle prospect falls and Pace decides to challenge LT Charles Leno or RT Bobby Massie. On March 25th, the Bears signed former Seahawks OL Germain Ifedi to a one-year deal. He played guard and tackle for Seattle and should be in the mix for right guard as well as swing tackle. On Friday, the team signed former Packers T Jason Spriggs to a one-year contract. He'll likely be in the mix at swing tackle. Chicago also re-signed G Rashaad Coward last week, and he'll compete for the right guard spot. Michigan C Cesar Ruiz, Louisiana OL Robert Hunt, and Houston OL Josh Jones are among the prospects who have been mocked to the Bears in the second round.
Defense/Special teams (need at corner/safety: high)
On March 22nd, the Bears signed free agent S Jordan Lucas to a one-year deal. He'll likely compete with S Deon Bush and possibly a draft pick for the safety spot next to S Eddie Jackson. On March 23rd, the team signed OLB Barkevious Mingo to a one-year contract. He may be a replacement for OLB Aaron Lynch and also play a key role on special teams. On the same day, Chicago also re-signed DL Brent Urban and S DeAndre Houston-Carson to one-year deals. DE Roy Robertson-Harris signed his restricted free agent tender last week, so he'll be back. Special teams ace S Sherrick McManis also was brought back on a one-year deal last week.
Pace only made a couple of minor free agent signings to address the losses of starting CB Prince Amukamara and starting S HaHa Clinton-Dix, so those two positions are the Bears' biggest needs on this side of the ball. Edge rusher is also a need because there isn't much depth behind OLB Khalil Mack and DE Robert Quinn, but not as much of a need as corner and safety. At corner, Clemson CB A.J. Terrell would be nice, but he isn't likely to fall out of the first round. LSU CB Kristian Fulton, TCU CB Jeff Gladney, Alabama CB Trevon Diggs, and Ohio State CB Damon Arnette are second round possibilities at corner. LSU S Grant Delpit, Southern Illinois S Jeremy Chinn, California S Ashtyn Davis, and Lenoir-Rhyne S Kyle Dugger are second round possibilities at safety. Chinn (6-3 221, 4.45 40) and Dugger (6-1 217, 4.49 40) are intriguing because of their physical gifts, but they both played against lesser competition and might face a more challenging transition to the NFL.
Kicker (need: low)
The Bears signed PK Ramiz Ahmed last Friday to provide some competition for PK Eddy Pineiro.
More to come after the NFL draft!
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