With College Football coming back, NFL Draft scouting is about to begin again. As an NFL Draft nut, I am already looking at draft prospects that the Chicago Bears could be interested when April 2019 rolls around.
Below are players the Bears would be wise to keep an eye this college football season.
This past offseason, the Bears filled many holes on their depth chart. They had quite a few, however, making it near impossible to fill every single need in one offseason. With that, one big need was not filled, and that was the edge rusher opposite of Leonard Floyd.
The 2019 edge rusher class looks strong to start the season. On most draft boards, you will find Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa on the top of the list. This should come as no surprise, as he has been hyped up as one day being a top prospect after his brother Joey was drafted by the Chargers.
Again, we really don’t know where the Chicago Bears will be picking, but I would say right now that it is unlikely that they get a chance to select him. If the Bears had the opportunity to select him, it must have been a nightmare season for them. If that nightmare happened, however, getting Bosa would not be too bad of a consolation prize.
Even though it is very unlikely that the Bears can get a player like Bosa, there are plenty of edge rushers that could end up being selected in the first round this year that the Bears could be in range for.
There are three names the Bears should keep an eye on. They are Clelin Ferrell (Clemson), Brian Burns (Florida State), and Montez Sweat (Mississippi State). These three guys could rise up and be top picks along with Bosa.
Clelin Ferrell is the most likely to move up and get up to the Nick Bosa level of prospect. I have seen him mostly mocked to go in the top half of the draft (yes I am already looking at mock drafts). At 6’5″ and 260 pounds, he has the swiftness that is truly special for a guy his size, Ferrell looks like an absolute monster out on the football field. He is someone that the rest of the ACC is not looking forward to seeing this season.
Next on the list is Brian Burns out of Florida State. While Ferrell is more of an all-around edge rusher, Burns is all about the pass rush. He is a bit lanky, as Ferrell has around 30 pounds on Burns with the same height.
With that, he is not the quickest edge rusher, but he has a wide array of moves that help him get to the quarterback. He should be able to translate well to the NFL if he bulks up, as he does not only rely on speed to get to the quarterback like many lanky edge rushing prospects.
Last, but not least, we have Mississippi State’s Montez Sweat. Sweat is a guy that gets it done in both run and passing situations. Last season, he led the SEC in both tackles for loss and sacks. He gets himself in the right place at the right time, possibly because he has an extremely high motor and will try and find a way to get involved in the play. He will be a player mentioned a lot this season.
These are all the names that many draft analysts view as the top edge rushers to watch at the beginning of the season. One guy that I think isn’t mentioned enough but should be is Oregon’s, Jalen Jelks. If you are looking for an athletic freak out of the edge rusher position than Jelks is your guy. He needs some work, as he gets a bit overly aggressive at times, but with some teaching, I think he could end up being one of the biggest risers on draft boards throughout the season.
The Bears are in a spot where they could potentially look for an upgrade at both tackle positions. Charles Leno Jr. is a solid left tackle, but an upgrade could be made there. Bobby Massie could be easily replaced with a new right tackle, so tackles should be heavily looked at this season.
The top guy right now appears to be Alabama tackle, Jonah Williams. Williams is going into his Junior year as a three-year starter for Alabama, and for good reason – the guy is a freak. He is big enough that he can just destroy defensive lineman, but he is quick enough that he can make it to the second level to open up the run game. There are not many flaws in this guy’s game, and he will for sure be one to pay attention to this season.
The other tackle that many draft analysts are already drooling all over is Wisconsin’s, David Edwards. Edwards has a big job this year, as he must block for Heisman contender Jonathon Taylor. Taylor should not need to worry, as Edwards has proved to be a great run blocker. At 6’7″ and around 320 pounds, he has the tools to be able to pummel opposing lineman.
Wisconsin has a very talented offensive line overall, so that whole line may be one to watch if we are looking for prospects all over the draft, the team could always use more depth on the offensive line.
The Bears do not need to select a defensive back early in the 2019 draft at this point, but then again, the Bears did not necessarily need to select Roquan Smith this past year, so that tells us Ryan Pace is willing to go for talent over need.
At cornerback, the Bears may have just signed Prince Amukamara to a deal, but he is not a young cornerback. They could get a replacement for him in the 2019 NFL Draft, leaving the Bears with a very young defensive back group.
If the Bears do decide to look at selecting a cornerback early, the name that is often being mentioned at the top of early draft boards is LSU’s, Greedy Williams. LSU has a strong record with cornerbacks, and Williams looks like he is next in line to continue that tradition. He has a lockdown corner mentality and does a fantastic job not letting receivers get separation on him
Greedy uses his bigger frame and his great ball skills to pile up interceptions. He had six interceptions his redshirt freshman year, which had him lead the SEC. The last LSU player to lead SEC in interceptions is a familiar one, as it is former Chicago Bear Craig Steltz.
Another cornerback that Bears may be interested in would be Florida State’s, Levonta Taylor. He is a bit undersized, but he makes up for it with his elite athleticism. He has great hip movement and is able to stick with receivers while also does a great job of batting down passes. If he can bulk up a bit, he has a chance to be a big-time cornerback in the NFL.
The other scenario is Adrian Amos is not re-signed this offseason. I am not saying that the Bears won’t pay him, but Ryan Pace may decide that the money would be better spent elsewhere, and a new need would appear.
In terms of safeties, a lot of draft analysts are excited about Alabama’s Deionte Thompson. While I think he is a great prospect, I got someone else above him at this point, and that is Miami’s, Jaquan Johnson. Johnson is a turnover machine, as he put on that ‘Turnover Chain’ quite a bit last season for Miami. He got that ‘Turnover Chain’ by both picking the ball off and laying the hammer down.
Johnson is my ideal safety, a very physical guy with a high motor who creates turnovers. If Johnson does all of that, and he is my favorite safety in this draft class, and someone that could step in next year if Amos leaves.
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