Day one and two of the 2017 NFL Draft are in the books, and the Bears made quite the splash on Thursday evening in Philadelphia. The consensus around Chicago was that the Bears were going to take Jamal Adams or Solomon Thomas at number three, with a slight possibility that they would move back in the first round. In the minutes leading up to the draft, there was some chatter that the Bears were in fact looking to move back in the draft after all.
After the Cleveland Browns made their first overall selection, taking Myles Garrett to no one’s surprise, it was announced that Bears and the 49ers swapped the second and third overall slot in addition to the Bears sending a 2017 third round pick, 2017 fourth round pick and a 2018 third round pick to San Francisco.
At that point, I was 100 percent convinced that the Bears were taking Solomon Thomas, as was just about everyone else on the NFL Draft coverage team. Then they shocked us all by taking Mitch Trubisky, the North Carolina quarterback second overall.
I’ll admit, I had a momentary freak out after they called Trubisky’s name, and so did all the Bears fan-base for the majority of the evening on Thursday night. Once I sat down and dove into Trubisky’s scouting reports, and numbers to put together my analysis of the pick, the shock wore off, and I began to realize that outside of the steep return that they had to pay to get him, Trubisky was in fact a good pick for the Bears.
A quarterback with good size and strength that will compliment his mobility in the pocket as he moves into a pro-style offense. Trubisky has excellent throwing mechanics, and rarely makes poor decisions with the ball, a trait that fans scorned by Jay Cutler will love if it parlays to the professional game in the near future.
Ryan Pace said himself today, that sometimes you just have to swing for the fences, and he did just that with this move and selection. Ultimately they gave up two picks in this draft, and one next year. They have a second fourth round pick this year, which will only keep them out of the third round of this year’s draft, and of course they can always make a move to get back into the third round next season. It’s apparent that someone was going to make a swap with the 49ers to take Trubisky, or the 49ers were going to take him; or the Bears would not have made the move. Let’s not pretend that Trubisky was going to be there at three if they didn’t make the move that they did.
This move will define Pace’s career moving forward, and he’s alright with that. It can work out and he looks like a GM with the fortitude to make an unpopular move for the betterment of the franchise, or Trubisky can fail, and Pace will be out of Chicago and potentially football.
The biggest thing that I can stress to Bears fans at this point is, don’t confuse your disapproval for the move that Pace made with the excitement you should have about the potential that Mitch Trubisky may finally be “the” QB of the future in Chicago.
Overall First Round Grade: B
Day Two (Rounds 2,3)
On the second night of the 2017 NFL Draft, Ryan Pace was back at it, pulling off a trade with the Arizona Cardinals prior to their selection at number 36 overall. The Cardinals received the Bears 36th pick as well as the Bears 2017 7th round pick, while the Bears received the Cardinals 2017 2nd round pick (45th overall), their 2017 4th round pick (119th overall), their 2017 6th round pick (197th overall), and a 2018 4th round pick.
The Cardinals immediately selected Budda Baker with the 36th overall selection, a safety out of the University of Washington, a player that I had dubbed as the Bears second round pick as of this afternoon.
With the 45th overall selection the Bears picked Adam Shaheen, a tight end out of Ashland College (DII). While some may knock Shaheen for being a DII player, this kid has the size and pass catching ability to become a dominant red zone touchdown threat in the NFL.
At 6’6″ and 278 pounds Shaheen brings excellent size to the Bears at the TE position, complimented by excellent hands and a tremendous vertical and ability to attack the ball in the air at the catching point. Shaheen was a former DII basketball player, and that has allowed him to become a red zone nightmare for opponents. Shaheen will need to lose some weight, and probably get down to somewhere in the 250-260 pound range this offseason, which will add to his explosiveness off of the line and only further his red zone ability.
The biggest challenge ahead of Shaheen as he transitions to the NFL game will be learning the blocking schemes and the playbook, and once he does, he has the chance to be a top red zone threat for the Bears moving forward. A solid pick for Pace at 45th overall.
Day Two Grade: C+
Day Three Needs (Rounds 4-7)
After snagging their QB of the future, and a big athletic TE who will look to bring his red zone prowess to the NFL for the Bears on day one and two of the 2017 NFL Draft, Ryan Pace will need to focus heavily on the defensive side of the ball on the final day of the NFL Draft.
The Bears will have the following selections on day three (barring another trade): 4th Round – #111 Overall, 4th Round – #119 Overall (from Arizona), 5th Round – #147 Overall, 6th Round – #197 Overall (from Arizona).
With two fourth round selections, a fifth round selection and a sixth round selection the Bears will need to pursue multiple positions on the defensive side of the ball to have a successful day three on Saturday. Here are a few options for the Bears on day three.
Jourdan Lewis, CB – Michigan
Taking Jourdan Lewis with the first of two fourth round selections is a nice addition behind the bridge additions that the Bears made to the cornerbacks this offseason. Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara will play in front of Lewis, and allow him to develop before being asked to play a major role in the secondary, a luxury that the Bears didn’t have with Kyle Fuller, who has not panned out after being selected in the first round in 2014.
Lewis has received high marks for his excellent instincts and route reading skills from many, and could parlay into a solid corner for the Bears down the line, and at minimum he would be able to cover opposing team’s slot receivers down-field.
Carroll Phillips, OLB – Illinois
During his Senior season at Illinois Phillips earned all-conference honors after logging 56 tackles, 20 tackles for loss, and nine sacks. The nine sacks were a team-high, and his 20 tackles for loss was ranked ninth in the FBS in 2016. Nicknamed “Wild Man” Phillips possesses excellent quickness and has a keen nose for the ball, shutting down opposing run games and terrorizing running backs.
Phillips would be an excellent late-round addition to the Bears already developing linebacker core in the future. Phillips would be a project for the Bears, as he needs to pack on some additional weight and strength, and some have even went as far as saying that Carroll’s run-defense technique won’t translate to the NFL. I believe that at number 147 Carroll will be the best available outside linebacker, and has a chance to thrive under Vic Fangio in the not-so-distant future if he can bulk up his frame.