With the conclusion of the 2020 NFL Draft, the best message to Chicago Bears fans might be to pace yourselves. The Bears came away with seven players. At least two of which are expected to start or heavily contribute early on. Mixed still reactions came as expected but general manager Ryan Pace generally received passing marks for his sixth draft at the helm.
Bears Fans Will Need To Pace Themselves
One of the biggest fears among Bears faithful was Pace unnecessarily trading up for a player. Through two rounds, that wasn’t the case. Chicago stayed put and came away with Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet (per our request) and Utah’s Jaylon Johnson in the second round. Both players are at or near the top of their position groups but still got different receptions.
Kmet is the best tight end in a poor draft class overall. But many didn’t foresee the Bears going to the position first after spending a lot of money on Jimmy Graham in free agency. Even those who dislike the move will tell you that, out of the now 10 tight ends on the roster, Kmet is the second-best at worst.
Johnson’s selection was greeted a little more warmly as the Bears had (and still have) question marks in the secondary after losing Prince Amukamara and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. We had them pegged for safety with former CFL corner Tre Roberson and Kevin Toliver among a large group of reclamation projects opposite Kyle Fuller, but Johnson is talented if (big if) healthy.
Pace got active on the third day, trading a future fourth-rounder to get into the fifth round and snag Trevis Gipson out of Tulsa. He followed that by using his own fifth on cornerback Kindle Vildor out of Georgia Southern. Gipson’s selection makes more sense; the Bears desperately need a third pass rusher. Taking Vildor, though, feels a bit like overkill with all the bodies already at corner.
Chicago had more than a few holes to fill and, by and large, did well filling them. But the wait to address the offensive line and flat-out lack of attention paid to the safety position is a bit baffling. Chicago watched Grant Delpit (Cleveland) and Antoine Winfield Jr (Minnesota) go immediately after they took Kmet, who was the only tight end drafted in the round.
The offensive line was viewed as perhaps the top need for the Bears. But they apparently are counting on a bounceback with big money still invested into weak-links Charles Leno and Bobby Massie at tackle. Taking Arlington Hambright (great name) and Lachavious Simmons is great except that counting on two seventh-rounders is not really addressing the issue.
Wide receiver was another sore spot with fans and critics alike. The Bears had a need for speed before releasing the diminutive Taylor Gabriel. They might have found his replacement in Darnell Mooney out of Tulane, if he can overcome the dropsies. Still, in a deep wide receiver class, this feels like a spot where Chicago should and could have done better.
A lot of folks had (or wanted) Chicago to draft a quarterback. With very little in the form of draft capital and having made a significant investment into Nick Foles, it wasn’t going to be early barring a slide of a top prospect and the mid-round guys are far from safe bets. But, man, adding even an undrafted player would have been nice. And that’s per Pace himself.
Deon Bush is the early favorite for the starting strong safety role, but he is far from proven. Maybe they go after a guy like Tony Jefferson in the next wave of free agency. Alex Bars, Rashaad Coward, and free-agent addition Germain Ifedi will likely duke it out for the right guard spot. Both seventh-rounders will get a shot to impress, but don’t expect much.
2020 is going to be interesting for the Bears. The Vikings did well to address their many needs in the draft but both the Packers and Lions had questionable drafts. For the Packers, using their first two picks on a developmental quarterback and two-down runner won’t help now. Detroit made solid picks (maybe over-drafting Jeffery Okudah) but had as many holes as the Bears if not more and was the worse team.
Chicago has to hope they did enough to address their own issues or there will be many more changes in 2021 when they will have access to their first-round pick again. There’s still a lot of off-season left so they can still do more. But so far, Pace has had a solid, if unspectacular, draft and mediocre free agency (Robert Quinn saved it).
Undrafted free agents are currently being scooped up, including Khalil Mack‘s brother Ladarius. Who knows if the juice is worth the squeeze with any of them. It just feels like Pace made his mind up in free agency and the draft and didn’t maximize his potential. The one pass that should be granted is his not trading down in the second round. You have to have a willing partner at an acceptable spot to do that.
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