Draft season is upon us and the Chicago Bears will be on the the clock in three weeks. Ryan Pace and his staff have had a tremendous off-season to this point but drafts are usually how championships are determined. Good drafting separates the winners from the losers in all sports and the National Football League is no different. Once Pace took over the reigns of the organization the club was in a dire situation from a talent standpoint.
While his free agent record was questionable at best prior to this off-season, he and his staff have done a pretty good job in the draft. The Bears have seven selections this April, and there are some obvious trends to consider from his past three classes.
Pace likes athletes with upside in the top-10. He has used top ten selections on wide receiver Kevin White, pass rusher Leonard Floyd, and quarterback Mitchell Trubisky to date. He’s also shown that he’s willing to trade up and mortgage later picks in order to secure his target. Pace has traded back in the second round in consecutive years and I wouldn’t be surprised to see that strategy continued. The team doesn’t have a 3rd round choice because it was traded in the Trubisky deal last year. Pace has also been active moving around the board on day three.
I think it’s likely that Pace makes a trade in some fashion during this year’s draft. I will not be projecting trades in my prediction though. This is my first seven-round projection, and I will do one more the week of the draft. My colleague here at The Loop Sports, Dan DeYoung, will also be doing a seven-round projection with his thoughts for what the Bears do in late April. Below, I have included what I think the Bears could do with each of their picks along with a scouting report and video.
Round 1: Pick #8
Tremaine Edmunds – ILB – Virginia Tech
Edmunds is the rare draft eligible prospect that is only 19-years-old. He’s not as polished as some players due to his rawness but he also offers more upside potential. The former Hokie is a 6’5″, 253-pound off-ball linebacker. During his junior season in 2017, he posted 109 tackles with 14 tackles for loss. He also had 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles. Edmunds is a freaky athlete and is a bit of a size, strength and speed prospect. He is twitched up physically and offers sideline to sideline tackling ability. He is also a great blitzer, and is said to have high football character.
Edmunds performed well at the NFL Scouting Combine in February. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.54 seconds while measuring in with 34 1/2 inch arms. He is a raw player that doesn’t always display great instincts. He’s definitely a projection type pick but he could be a special player if he hits.
He’s best used as an off the ball inside linebacker with blitz ability. Some have projected him to Edge, and he could probably fill that role in nickel situations at a minimum. Edmunds checks every box that Pace has generally looked to fill with his top ten picks in his three-year tenure. He could start next to Danny Trevathan at inside linebacker while also being used as a pass rusher in sub-packages.
Scouting Video by Voch Lombardi
Round 2: Pick #39
James Daniels – C – Iowa
Daniels is another young prospect that won’t turn 21 until September. He’s the ideal fit at center in a zone scheme. The former Hawkeye is 6’3″, 306 pounds with 33 3/4 inch arms. Daniels possesses elite movement skills and has great initial quickness. He is fluid and flexible and has no trouble getting to the second level of a defense. He’s a good finisher that anchors well and has balanced feet in pass protection. James did 21 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press at the combine and he displayed a 7.29 second 3 Cone time.
He weighed in at a respectable 306 pounds in Indianapolis but he often played lighter than that in college. He needs to carry more weight consistently and he struggles with strong bull rushers. He could be a Pro Bowl center in a zone-blocking scheme. He would be an ideal fit for what the Bears would like to do offensively. This pick would likely move Cody Whitehair to guard which is a position that he’s played in the past.
Some footage of Daniels’ game vs Wisconsin in 2017
Draft Profile courtesy of SB Nation
Round 4: Pick #105
Brandon Parker – OT – North Carolina A&T
Parker was college teammates with Bears play-maker Tarik Cohen. That isn’t the reason why the Bears would be interested in him though. Parker was the MEAC Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 and was All-Conference as well. He’s 6’8″ with 35-inch arms, and weighed 305 pounds at the combine. Parker moves well in space and has great length, strength and agility. The 22-year-old dominated a lower level of competition and has an interesting story.
Parker does have an inconsistent punch and he needs to further fill out his frame in a positive way. NFL caliber defensive lineman and pass rushers will pose a challenge but Parker has all the traits to become a starting offensive tackle in the league.
Ryan Pace hasn’t been afraid to pluck high upside talent out of small colleges and this would be no different. When Pace was with the Saints, that organization used a third round pick on OT Terron Armstead out of Arkansas Pine-Bluff. Parker is a similar player, and he has a similar trajectory to Armstead it would be a big scouting win.
Some footage of Parker vs Richmond from 2016
Round 4: Pick #115
Ade Aruna – EDGE – Tulane
The Edge position might be the single biggest need on the Chicago Bears roster. Edmunds will play there some in this scenario but he’s best used in other ways. Aruna is another really raw player but he has the traits that Vic Fangio likes, and he could be developed into a good pass rusher at the next level.
Aruna had an excellent pro day recently where he ran the 40 Yard Dash in 4.6 seconds. Aruna is 6’6″, 260 pounds and has 34-inch arms. He has a 38 inch vertical and compiled 13 sacks his last two seasons at Tulane.
Aruna was born in Nigeria and didn’t come to the United States until high school where he was slated to play basketball. He has great length with a frame to get stronger. He shows potential to set the edge but is inconsistent. Aruna needs to develop more leg strength and often struggles with his pad level. He doesn’t have great hands, and that’s an area that should improve with more coaching.
Aruna will also be a 24-year-old rookie, so it can be argued that he has limited upside even though he’s a developmental prospect. Aruna definitely isn’t a sure thing but he’s the type of prospect that the Bears should be taking a chance on on day three.
Round 5: Pick #145
Jonah Trinnaman WR Brigham Young
Trinnaman isn’t a well known prospect but his pro day will likely get him drafted, and Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm reported that the Bears have met with him. The 5’11”, 193-pound wide out ran the 40 yard dash in 4.34 seconds and posted a vertical jump of 40.5 inches at his pro day. He was not invited to the scouting combine, but those numbers would have been No. 1 for all receivers. Jonah also put up a 12-foot broad jump. Trinnaman attended Snow College which is a Junior College in Utah prior to attending BYU. He was a four star recruit out of high school as well.
He has some kick return ability also. In his last year at Snow, he compiled 47 catches for 803 yards with eight touchdowns, and contributed 33.9 yards per return. At Brigham Young, Trinnaman caught 52 passes for 626 with one touchdown in his two seasons. He also took 22 carries for 177 yards with two career rushing scores. He didn’t have ideal production but the Cougars ran a very run heavy scheme where he wasn’t featured prominently. He did post elite combine numbers for his position however.
First Game at BYU: Highlights
Pro Day Highlights (Bears are mentioned by Trinnaman)
Round 6: Pick #181
Siran Neal – DB – Jacksonville State
Neal has been an All Ohio Valley Conference performer the past two seasons. In 2015, he played safety. In 2016, his coaches asked him to play linebacker, so he did just that. He racked up 80 tackles and 11.5 for loss. In 2017, he was moved to cornerback. He posted 39 tackles with one interception and 11 pass break-ups. Neal is 6’0″, 206 pounds and he ran the 40 yard dash in 4.56 seconds. He has 31 1/8 inch arms and recorded a 40.5 inch vertical at the combine.
He’s an older prospect that will be a 24-year-old rookie in the NFL. It is also unclear which position will be his best. He has good size and physicality. He’s also tough and can play near the line of scrimmage while being a productive tackler. He has NFL caliber traits and definitely will fit on a roster. The Bears would likely play Siran somewhere in the secondary and he projects as a sub-package player that excels on special teams. He has met with the Bears prior to the draft.
Highlight Video courtesy of Draft Diamonds
Round 7: Pick #224
Jarvion Franklin – RB – Western Michigan
Franklin is a prototypical big back at 5’11”, and 239 pounds. He ran a 4.63 forty and posted a 6.93 3 Cone Time at the combine. He’s from the Chicago suburbs, and attended Andrew High School in Tinley Park, IL. He’s Western Michigan’s All-Time leading rusher with 4,867 yards and 56 touchdowns.
Jarvion runs with good pad level and he’s been very productive in the Mid-American Conference. He does lack initial acceleration however, and isn’t really a pass catching threat. He also has over 1,000 career touches in college and that can be seen as a negative. He’s also met with the Bears during the pre-draft process.