Chicago Bears 2018 NFL Draft Preview
Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace has a big task ahead of him this week. He needs to put together another solid draft to build this Bears team into a contender within two years. With new Head Coach Matt Nagy in place, along with a solid defense led by DC Vic Fangio, and a second year Quarterback in Mitch Trubisky, the time is now for Pace to get some difference makers that will propel this team from a loser into a Playoff contender.
When Pace became GM in January 2015, this franchise had little to nothing going for it. It’s taken three years of rebuilding the roster but I believe the Bears are ready to pounce on their chance at NFC North success. This is the year it all comes together. I’m predicting an 11-5 record and an NFC Playoff berth. Once again, the Bears have an “easy” schedule, the 4th place schedule, and cross conference matchups with the AFC East. That means games against New England, N.Y. Jets, Miami, and Buffalo. Sure NE will probably be a sure loss but the other three are very winnable. The key is getting better against NFC North rivals. Can Chicago win at least 3 of 6? They better. So 11-5 or 10-6 is achievable. I know what you’re thinking…… “Dutch Lion” has officially lost it. Maybe so, but just wait and see.
Chicago has seven draft picks in this year’s 2018 NFL Draft. Here’s a list:
- 1st Round (8th) – #8 overall
- 2nd Round (7th) – #39 overall
- 4th Round (5th) – #105 overall
- 4th Round (15th) – #115 overall
- 5th Round (8th) – #145 overall
- 6th Round (7th) – #181 overall
- 7th Round (6th) – #224 overall
Let’s throw together a mock draft to see what will likely be available for Pace & Co. with his #8 overall selection. Then I’ll do a Bears mock draft pick (excluding the other teams) with each of the remaining selections, along with some alternatives depending on who might be available and the options for Pace depending on what positions he has already drafted.
2018 NFL Draft
83rd Annual NFL Player Selection Meeting
Thursday, April 26 – Saturday, April 28
AT&T Stadium/Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, TX
* (Heights and weights are sometimes approximations and gathered from different sources. I used “Lindy’s Pro Football Draft 2018” and “Pro Football Weekly Draft Guide 2018” magazines along with ProFootballFocus.com. Thank you to those publications as well as Youtube.com for highlight videos. The “PS#” is from Phil Steele’s annual “College Football Preview” magazines and refers to their recruiting rank as compared to others in their same high school recruiting class at their position. For example, Sam Darnold is PS#12 which means when he entered college in 2015, he was ranked as the 12th best quarterback recruit in his class.)
#1 Cleveland Browns – Sam Darnold/QB/USC/6-3.5 220/PS#12 (NFL Comparison: Andrew Luck/Indianapolis – The Browns finally look like they’re gaining some traction with their recent acquisitions and some of their draft moves. Last year, we predicted they’d take Myles Garrett/DE/Texas A&M. They did indeed. He made the NFL’s All-Rookie team with 31 tackles and 7 sacks. From all accounts he’ll be a solid if not spectacular DE for a long time for Cleveland. This year, they really need to find a quarterback that always seems to elude them. They’re most likely taking a franchise QB with the top overall pick this year. This future QB will compete with Tyrod Taylor whom they just recently signed away from the Buffalo Bills. We could see the scenario where Taylor gets a year to start while the rookie gets time, similar to the way the Bears treated Mitch Trubisky after signing veteran Mike Glennon. Of course, once it was obvious Glennon was taking the Bears nowhere fast, he was out of a job and Mitch stepped in. The Browns also have the 4th pick. With so many teams looking to draft a QB, why wait? Unless of course they’re not sold on any of the top prospects over the others. It would be shocking if they didn’t take a QB, but you never know. How about this crazy scenario? They take QB’s with BOTH the #1 AND #4 picks!!! This will never happen but wouldn’t it be fun to watch two top QB’s compete for the job? Think about it. Competition breeds success and you’d think at least one would be good. If they’re both good, then you trade a potential franchise QB to another team for a big return. It’s out of the box thinking but when you’re Cleveland, why not?
#2 New York Giants – Josh Rosen/QB/UCLA/6-3.5 219/PS#1 (NFL Comparison: Peyton Manning/Indianapolis, Denver) – This kid has New York City written all over him. Even his college coach at UCLA, Jim Mora Jr. seems to be playing along by downplaying how good Rosen is. I believe he is saying he’d take Darnold over Rosen because he knows Rosen doesn’t want to go to Cleveland. It’s kind of the old John Elway ploy where you tell the team you won’t play for them so they don’t draft you so that you end up getting drafted by a team in a city of your choosing. I believe Rosen is dying to go to NYC to be the next “Broadway Joe” in the Big Apple.
#3 New York Jets – Josh Allen/QB/Wyoming/6-5 233/PS#398JC (NFL Comparison: Joe Flacco/Baltimore/6-6 245) – Like Flacco, Allen is a big, tall QB with a strong arm. He comes from a smaller school, like Flacco did (Delaware). However, at least Wyoming is in the highest Division 1-A (now called FBS) of college football whereas Delaware was in a lower level (Division 1-AA, now called FCS) when Flacco entered the NFL in 2008 with the 18th pick by the Ravens. There are rumors of Allen being coveted by Denver at #5. Will the Broncos try to trade up to nab Allen?
#4 Cleveland Browns – Saquon Barkley/RB/Penn St./5-11.5 228/PS#224 (NFL Comparison: Marshall Faulk/Indianapolis, St. Louis) – Barkley is an amazing talent. He’s an all-around every down back that is excellent at catching passes out of the backfield as well as his straight-up running ability. He caught 54 passes last year at PSU for 632 yards and 3 scores in addition to his 1,271 rushing yards and 18 TD. He’s explosive. If Cleveland hits on their two offensive picks, they could finally climb their way out of their seemingly endless bottomless pit in the basement of the AFC North.
#5 Denver Broncos – Bradley Chubb/DE/N.C. State/6-3.5 269/PS#107 (NFL Comparison: Everson Griffen/Minnesota/6-3 273) – Many don’t realize that Brad Chubb is Nick Chubb’s cousin. Nick is the RB from Georgia who was incredible until he had a horrible knee injury. Nick has rebounded from that injury but may never be the same player as he flashed before the awful injury. Meanwhile, Bradley Chubb is a consistent EDGE pass rusher. He has had two consecutive 10 sack seasons for N.C. State in the ACC Conference. He had 21 and 23 TFL’s over his JR and SR seasons. He is what we call a “safe” pick in this draft. Does Denver need him? They have Von Miller. Does it hurt to have too many pass rushers? Never. If the above predictions happen, it leaves Broncos management with a tough decision. Do they “reach” for a QB out of their top 3? Do they trade down? Or perhaps Darnold, Rosen, or Allen weren’t their top QB choices anyway. Maybe they love Mason Rudolph, Baker Mayfield, or Lamar Jackson. And if that’s true, do they trade down or wait and hope they can draft one of those three with their 2nd round pick? This is where the intrigue may really begin on Draft Night.
#6 Indianapolis Colts – Quenton Nelson/OG/Notre Dame/6-4.5 330/PS#6 (NFL Comparison: Zack Martin/Dallas/6-4 315) – Nelson is really strong, physical, mobile, aggressive, and mean. He compares to another former ND Guard Zack Martin from Dallas. Like Chubb, Nelson is a really safe pick that we think will be a solid if not potentially Hall of Fame caliber OG to help block for a decade or more.
#7 Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Minkah Fitzpatrick/CB/S/Alabama/6-0.5 203/PS#5 (NFL Comparison: Rod Woodson/Pittsburgh or Aeneas Williams/Arizona) – Tampa wants a DB. They will probably take Fitzpatrick or Denzel Ward/Ohio St. at this spot.
#8 Chicago Bears : Roquan Smith/LB/Georgia/6-1 230/PS#5 (NFL Comparison: Lavonte David/Tampa Bay/6-1 233; OR Deion Jones/Atlanta/6-1 222; OR Thomas Davis/Carolina/6-1 235; OR Brian Urlacher/Bears/6-4 258; I see plenty of great comps for Smith.) – If Quenton Nelson falls to Chicago, I bet they take him, given several factors. He’s a safe pick, which would be nice for GM Ryan Pace after some of his previous first rounders have turned out to be more risky. He played for Bears (former and new) OL Coach Harry Hiestand at Notre Dame so the familiarity breeds interest. Nobody knows him better. Also, LG Josh Sitton was recently released and RG Kyle Long has had numerous injuries the last two years. Most importantly, the Bears want to protect their young franchise QB Mitch Trubisky. However, I’m doubting Nelson falls to #8 which means the Bears need a backup plan. Roquan Smith fits into this Bears defense perfectly! I’m more excited about Roquan than anyone else in this year’s Draft. In fact, I’m ecstatic! He was my favorite player in college last year. He is an AMAZING athlete. He’s supremely fast. Check out this Youtube video below detailing his 2017 highlights. In Sunday’s Chicago Tribune, Dan Wiederer wrote a piece and said this about Smith, “Smith, it seems, would be a terrific fit in Fangio’s system, a fast and instinctive linebacker with promising range and proven reaction skills.” I couldn’t agree more.
To take it a step further, Wiederer quoted ESPN analyst Louis Riddick, “Roquan Smith is the truth, man. That kid’s a player in every sense of the word. And he should be a Pro Bowler very quickly. He can run and when he gets there, he gets there with bad intentions. He should easily be a top-10 player”.
I watched almost every Georgia game last year and I can confirm he’s the real deal. He made plays last year virtually every week in which he flashed incredible closing speed not seen in Chicago since Brian Urlacher. He’s not as big as Brian but his speed is just as good. Look at my detailed list of NFL comps……. they all make big plays because they have speed and can cover receivers. That’s obviously very important in the modern, pass-happy NFL. Smith made plays sideline to sideline all season for Georgia’s amazing defense. He’s a leader too. He led Georgia to the National Championship game last year and this kid loves hitting. Last year he recorded 124 tackles, 11.5 TFL, 5.5 Sacks, 2 PBU’s, and 1 FF. He’s productive, fast, has leadership intangibles, is a 3 down player because of his speed and coverage, and should step right in as a starter. Now that ILB Jerrell Freeman is gone (he was released on February 20 after being busted for PED’s twice?!?), the Bears have an opening in the middle of their defense. The other ILB Danny Trevathan is great, but he’s getting older and he seems to get hurt every year. It’s time to add new blood to the Linebacker room at Halas Hall.
Roquan is our guy. I can’t wait!!! The Bears will be sorry if they have a chance at either Nelson or Smith and miss on both. Mark my words. The Dutch Lion will be foaming at the mouth with fury, salivating with rage, if neither of these studs gets picked by Pace on Thursday night. If you have any doubts on Smith, check out this highlight video provided courtesy of Youtube.com.
There was one play in particular that floored me as I watched Georgia at Notre Dame last September. Here it is, starting at the 26 second mark. I wish I could find the end zone camera view because it showed Smith’s incredible closing speed but if you watch this video you’ll get the idea. Smith took off and mauled ND QB Brandon Wimbush who is a speedy mobile runner himself. I don’t think I’ve seen a play like this since Urlacher used to do it weekly for the Bears in the early 2000’s.
So what is the Bears backup plan if both Nelson and Smith are gone? I would guess Pace would address the OLB spot opposite Leonard Floyd. Now that Willie Young, Lamarr Houston, and Pernell McPhee are gone, outside of Floyd the Bears only have Sam Acho and a couple of prospects. So we know Pace will draft AT LEAST one OLB/EDGE pass rusher.
Bears Backup Plan: Marcus Davenport/OLB/EDGE/UTSA/6-6 260/PS#394 (NFL Comparison: Leonard Floyd/Bears/6-6 240 OR Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah/Detroit/6-6 270) – Davenport is very similar to Floyd and Ansah in that he’s a tall drink of water who has extreme athleticism. He played outstanding at the Senior Bowl. The downside with Davenport is he’s very raw. He’s on the skinny side. Similarly to Floyd, he might have to add weight and improve against the run. Another negative is he played against sub par competition at UT San Antonio against Conference USA opponents. Nonetheless, he had 8.5 sacks and 17.5 TFL’s last year. He looked great at the Senior Bowl, and he could still grow. Can you imagine BOTH Floyd and Davenport rushing the passer from opposite ends in Vic Fangio’s scheme? Yeah, it’s exciting to imagine. There’s no doubt in my mind that Pace will take at least one OLB/EDGE rusher in this Draft. The question is who and in which round?
Speaking of Pace’s mindset…….. Before we get any further, let’s analyze the Bears ’18 Draft in the big picture. Pace does NOT need to draft a QB, RB, TE, NT, or probably S. He DOES need to address his biggest needs at WR, OLB/EDGE pass rusher, ILB, and maybe CB and OL. I guess we could throw DE in the mix too now that Mitch Unrein is gone. However, I think the plan is to have Jonathan Bullard earn that starting spot opposite Akiem Hicks and next to Eddie Goldman.
What’s great about having a young franchise QB is that you don’t need to worry about that position which allows you to not waste picks on QB’s. Let the other teams reach for QB’s that will surely wash out of the NFL within a couple of years. Now Pace can work on his team’s depth at key spots while Nagy and the coaches work on developing Trubisky.
I wish I could draft for Chicago this year. This is gonna be a heck of a fun time!
Friday: 2nd Round, #39 Overall
Chicago Bears select………….. Cedrick Wilson/WR/Boise St./6-2 195/PS#152JC (NFL Comparison: his father Cedric Wilson Sr. OR Deandre Hopkins/Houston 6-1 210) – Assuming the top WR’s are gone here (Calvin Ridley, Courtland Sutton, and Christian Kirk), I would invest in an athletic WR. To be clear, my top WR’s are Sutton and Kirk, but I don’t really like Ridley. Ridley is a poor man’s Amari Cooper. I think he’s highly overrated. Cedric Wilson is leaner than most top NFL WR’s but he can bulk up and get bigger. He was extremely productive in two seasons at Boise St. He caught 73 balls for 1290 yards and 6 TD last year after catching 56 for 1129 and 11 TD the year prior. He is consistent, a smooth athlete with soft hands. He’s fun to watch and he has the pedigree. His father played for Tennessee in college before playing 7 seasons in the NFL with the 49ers and Steelers. Wilson Sr. was only 5-10 183 while Wilson Jr. is about 4 inches taller and 10-15 pounds heavier. Projections have Wilson going anywhere between the 2nd and 5th round so even if the Bears pass him at this spot, they might be able to nab him later.
Backup Plan – Dante Pettis/WR/Washington/6-1 190/PS#166 (NFL comparison: Nelson Agholor/Philadelphia/6-0 200) – Pettis is a long strider. I think that’s why he is deceivingly fast. Watch his video. He flies by would-be tacklers on his way to the end zone. He scored 24 times on receptions, along with setting an NCAA career record with 9 punt return TD’s! His father was MLB OF Gary Pettis, who would steal bases with the best of ’em. Pettis was very productive in 2016 but not as much in ’17. He’s explosive and extremely athletic. I think Pettis is a diamond in the rough. The more I think about it, maybe Pace should select Pettis instead of Wilson.
Backup Backup Plan – Tre’Quan Smith/WR/UCF/6-1.5 200/PS#257 (NFL comparison: Allen Robinson/Chicago Bears/6-3 211) – If both Wilson and Pettis are gone by the 39th pick, Ryan Pace might consider a 3rd WR option in Tre’Quan Smith. The experts think Smith compares to new Bears free agent signee Allen Robinson. What better mentor for Smith than his new teammate?!? This would be an excellent opportunity for the Bears to groom a young WR that could one day replace his mentor, or simply provide another weapon or needed insurance. Remember that Robinson tore his ACL last year so it can never hurt to have a back-up plan, especially with Kevin White still unproven from injuries. For what it’s worth, I still think White will be awesome. He just needs health and luck. Nonetheless, WR has been the Bears weakest position group over the last several years so they need to work hard at improving this unit. I highly suggest taking a WR in the 2nd round.
Saturday: 4th Round, #105 Overall
Bears select……… Lorenzo Carter/OLB/Georgia/6-5.5 242/PS#4 (NFL Comparison: Leonard Floyd/Bears/6-6 240) – I know….. this is almost a little weird. You gotta believe Carter looked up to Floyd from the minute he got to Georgia. They are strangely similar. They are both long, rangy athletes that played the same position at Georgia. Both were used in pass coverage too often in my opinion, for Georgia’s sake. However, that made both players more well-rounded and appealing to NFL teams because it showed their versatility. If I were Georgia’s coach, I would’ve been too tempted to simply have Floyd and Carter rush the passer every down. That would’ve given them more stats, but the real scouts understand. Carter’s wingspan will help him get off blocks against both the run and pass. Carter may already be gone by this spot as he’s projected to be a 2nd or 3rd rounder. Why do I love these Georgia guys so much?…… I don’t know. I just do. It’s hard to argue with a National Championship runner-up finish last year in which the “Dutch Lion” predicted a Title in the preseason while nobody else even had them winning the SEC East division.
Backup Plan – Ogbonnia “Obo” Okoronkwo/OLB/Oklahoma/6-1 243/PS#88 (NFL comparison: Khalil Mack/Oakland/6-3 252; OR Justin Houston/Kansas City/6-3 258) – I love this kid! He has what we call…… a motor. Okoronkwo was always involved in big plays for OU over the last two years. He was highly productive, recording 147 TKL’s, 29.5 TFL’s, 17 Sacks, 5 PBU’s, and 5 FF’s as a JR and SR for the Sooners, who finished 11-2 and 12-2 with two Big 12 Conference Championships in ’16 and ’17. He’s ultra-instinctive and competitive which makes up for his lack of size. He’s probably 2 inches too short and maybe 10-15 pounds too light for ideal size. Could he grow? Yes! His instincts and relentless nature will serve him well. He performed well at the Senior Bowl. Like Carter, he’s projected to go in the 2nd or 3rd Round. Therefore, I urge Pace to take either one of these guys if available.
Saturday: 4th Round, #115 Overall
Bears select…………….. Hercules Mata’afa/OLB/EDGE/6-2 250/PS#309 (NFL Comparison: Tedy Bruschi/New England/6-1 247; OR Brandon Graham/Philadelphia/6-2 265) – Another pass rusher that I couldn’t take my eyes off of last season is Hercules Mata’afa. This guy flashed every time I watched Washington St. in 2017. He made big plays! Last year he recorded 43 TKL’s, 21.5 TFL’s!, 9.5 Sacks, 2 FF’s, and 1 FR. He played all over the D-Line for Wazzu, sometimes as NT, sometimes as DE, sometimes as a blitzing LB. He’s fun to watch. Once again, his projected draft spot is all over the board. Some have him as high as the 2nd round while others have him as low as the 4th round. If Pace can grab Mata’afa this low in the Draft, take him. Provide more skill and collegiate production to a unit that needs to replace older veterans on their way out of Chicago. It never hurts to provide competition (at least outside of the QB position), so the Bears should not shy away from adding athletic bodies to their DL/LB room. Like I said earlier, I project the Bears to take two pass rushers this year. Mata’afa is a stud and could be a 2nd productive OLB addition to an improving Bears defense. By the way, his NFL comp of Tedy Bruschi is perfect. They look exactly alike in my mind. They both are/were undersized defensive linemen at the collegiate level and project to move out at the pro level. But players are players and both of these guys know how to play defense. Thank you to Lindy’s Draft 2018 Magazine for the incredible comp of Bruschi for Mata’afa.
Saturday: 5th Round, #145 Overall
Bears select……………. Chad Thomas/DE/Miami/6-5 276/PS#5 OR a 3-4 stout DE (NFL Comparison: Carlos Dunlap/Cincinnati/6-6 280) – He looks more like a 4-3 DE than a 3-4 DE so maybe I’m wrong here. Usually you want your 3-4 Ends to be stouter and bigger than 4-3 Ends. Look no further than Akiem Hicks on the Bears, who is over 330 pounds. Of course, Jonathan Bullard is only 290 and it sounds like they expect him to start now that Mitch Unrein (300 pounds) has been released. Thomas is the kind of guy that intrigues me because he looks like he should be better than he is. He should be more productive than his 10 sacks over the last two years in which he played 25 games for the Hurricanes. He’s decent but he has a lot to learn. However, the body “looks the part but usually doesn’t play the part”, as Pro Football Weekly stated so well. I agree with that assessment precisely. Now, having said that, Thomas could thrive with some NFL coaching. Also, when his teammates push him harder than he got pushed in college, that could be all the motivation he needs for improvement. Could he be a starter at 3-4 DE over Bullard? Akiem Hicks won’t last forever either so Pace would be drafting for a possible need and/or depth with this pick. Therefore, the big question is whether or not Thomas will fit in the 3-4? Risky but intriguing player.
Saturday: 6th Round, #181 Overall
Bears select………………. D.J. Reed/CB/RS/Kansas St./5-9 188/PS#433JC (NFL Comparison: Devin Hester/Bears) – An excellent return man, could Reed be the next Devin Hester for Chicago? If he doesn’t work out at CB, he might be an excellent KR and PR in the least. He was an unknown, lightly recruited, highly overlooked player coming out of high school and even junior college, but Kansas St. took a chance on him. All he did was earn back-to-back 1st Team All-Big 12 honors at CB. As a SOPH he had 19 PBU’s, 3 INT’s, and 2 FF’s, and 1 TD. As a JR, he recorded 13 PBU’s, 4 INT’s, 2 FR’s, and 1 FF. As a return man, Reed had both a KR TD and a PR TD last season. Reed is small but plays with a big heart. I love guys like this. His projection is between Rounds 4 and 6. Why not add a guy that could thrive in the slot corner position and at worst if he doesn’t work out there, then you have a return specialist that can return both kickoffs and punts?
Saturday: 7th Round, #224 Overall
Bears select………………. Tray Matthews/S/Auburn/6-0 209/PS#14 (NFL Comparison: Mark Barron/L.A. Rams/6-2 213) – I always liked this guy, even as a Freshman at Georgia. Oh Gawd! What is wrong with me? Why do I love these Dawgs so much? Matthews transferred within the SEC to Auburn and still impressed me. He’s projected to go anywhere from the 5th to 7th Round. If he’s available in the 7th, I suggest Pace selects Matthews. He’s an in-the-box strong safety type who might just add weight and become a nickel linebacker. He compares to Mark Barron on the L.A. Rams who was likewise a Safety coming out of Alabama but has now found a better home at LB. It was said Matthews was a vocal team leader at Auburn.
Backup Plan – Christian DiLauro/OT/Illinois/6-5 300/PS#148 (NFL Comparison: uhhhh, anyone that can play swing tackle, we’ll go with Tom Compton/Chicago/6-5 308) – DiLauro has some potential and the Bears could use some of that on their OL. He has experience playing both RT and LT. As Pro Football Weekly said, “His upside is as a swing tackle who can dress on Sundays.”
Backup Backup Plan – Cody O’Connell/OG/Washington St./6-8.5 360?/PS#144 (NFL Comparison: Alejandro Villanueva/Pittsburgh/6-9 320) – “The Continent” is a mountain of a man who would probably play Guard but could possibly fit at RT as well. He’s so huge that you can’t ignore him. He’s the rare player who might need to lose weight at the pro level to add quickness and agility. At Wazzu he played LG very well. He was a 1st Team All-America in 2016 and 1st Team All-Pac 12 last year. Let’s say he could get down in the 320-330 pound range. That would compare to Villanueva from the Steelers who is a really good LT.
To recap, here are the Dutch Lion’s 2018 projections for the Chicago Bears:
- 1st Round (8th) – #8 overall – Roquan Smith/ILB/Georgia
- 1. Backup Plan – Marcus Davenport/OLB/EDGE/UTSA
- 2nd Round (7th) – #39 overall – Cedrick Wilson/WR/Boise St.
- 1. Backup Plan – Dante Pettis/WR/PR/Washington
- 2. Backup Plan – Tre’Quan Smith/WR/UCF
- 4th Round (5th) – #105 overall – Lorenzo Carter/OLB/EDGE/Georgia
- 1. Backup Plan – Ogbonnia “Obo” Okoronkwo/OLB/EDGE/Oklahoma
- 4th Round (15th) – #115 overall – Hercules Mata’afa/OLB/EDGE/Washington St.
- 5th Round (8th) – #145 overall – Chad Thomas/DE/Miami
- 6th Round (7th) – #181 overall – D.J. Reed/CB/KR/PR/Kansas St.
- 7th Round (6th) – #224 overall – Tray Matthews/S/Auburn
- 1. Backup Plan – Christian DiLauro/OT/Illinois
- 2. Backup Plan – Cody “The Continent” O’Connell/OG/Washington St.
Before we check out, let’s take a quick look back to last year’s 2017 NFL Draft Preview. What were we right about? Where were we wrong last year?
Here were the Dutch Lion’s Chicago Bears 2017 projections:
- 1st Round #3 Overall: DeShaun Watson/QB/Clemson – Boy did I want Pace to take Watson as our franchise QB last year. Obviously he took Mitch Trubisky and I’m happy about that now, but on Draft night I was distraught! As it turned out, Houston nabbed Watson at #12 overall and he was outstanding prior to his ACL knee injury. Great rookie season as he threw for 1699 passing yards, 19 TD, 8 INT, 62% comp, in just 7 games (6 starts). Would I rather have Trubisky or Watson? Too early to tell. I think both will be fantastic. Watson was so good it made both Chicago and Kansas City question themselves for taking Trubisky (#2 overall) and Patrick Mahomes (#10 overall) prior to Watson. Did one or both teams make a huge mistake?
- * Backup Plan: DeShone Kizer/QB/Notre Dame – Ended up going 52nd to Cleveland. Very inconsistent season for the Browns already got him traded to Green Bay. For some reason, I doubt he’ll start over Aaron Rodgers. LOL!
- 2nd Round #36: Zay Jones/WR/East Carolina – Ended up going 37th to Buffalo. Mixed bag for Jones as he had 316 yards and 2 TD, but his off-field instability has them worried. He reportedly tried to jump out of a 30th story window about a month ago but his brother, fellow WR Cayleb Jones, saved his life.
- * Backup Plan: Cooper Kupp/WR/Eastern Washington – Went 69th to L.A. Rams. Wow did he produce as a rookie! Kupp had 869 yards and 5 scores. Future star is already a great pick for L.A.! Great call by “Dutch”.
- * Backup Backup Plan: Tre’Davious White/CB/LSU – Went 27th to Buffalo. All-Rookie CB as he put up a great season. 69 TKL, 1 FF, 2 FR, 18 PBU’s, 4 INT, 1 TD! Fantastic call by “Dutch”.
- 3rd Round #67: Dawuane Smoot/EDGE/OLB/Illinois – Drafted 68th by Jacksonville. He hardly did anything for the Jaguars last year. He recorded only 20 tackles with no sacks or big plays. However, “Dutch Lion” is really close on some of these projected draft spots. So we have to give him props for that at least.
- * Backup Plan: Jordan Willis/EDGE/OLB/Kansas St. – Drafted 73rd by Cincinnati. He had 25 tackles and 1 sack.
- 4th Round #111: Dalvin Tomlinson/DE/Alabama – Drafted 55th by the N.Y. Giants. He was on the All-Rookie team as he recorded 50 tackles and 1 sack.
- 4th Round #117: Jordan Leggett/TE/Clemson – He went 150th to the N.Y. Jets. He injured his knee and went on IR. No games played.
- 5th Round #147: Nathan Gerry/SS/Nebraska – The Philadelphia Eagles drafted Gerry with the 184th selection with the intention of moving him to LB. He made the practice squad out of Eagles Training Camp and then was activated to the NFL roster in October. Nate played decently on special teams. He recorded only 5 tackles but he now has a Super Bowl ring for his efforts. Will the move to LB work? If not I bet he gets a chance at Safety in Philly or elsewhere. He’s a good physical athlete.
- 7th Round #221: Jordan Westerkamp/Slot WR/Nebraska – Westerkamp went undrafted but signed with the Miami Dolphins as a free agent. He didn’t see any action and just recently signed with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. I think Jordan will have a great career somewhere. He will continue to work his way back from a December 2016 knee injury and prove he’s a valuable slot receiver. I doubt we’ve seen the last of “Fear the Stache”. Integrity. Football smarts. Underrated hands. Coaches kid. Would’ve been great in college with better QB. Also got a bad break with injury in bowl practices his Senior year. Has a solid future.
That’s it for our 2018 NFL Draft Preview. Enjoy the Draft this weekend! Look for our Bears Draft Recap in the coming weeks.