The draft is a funny thing. NFL fans and media spend months breaking down each position, speculating on how the draft board should be set up, move players around in accordance to their performances in the various workouts and interviews and then figure out team needs and wants and play matchmaker.
But it's all pretty much guess work until the draft actually happens. The outsiders can speculate all they want and find rumors and connections and whatever but no one really knows how teams feel about Player X or Player A until that player is actually taken.
There are always players that go way before the analysts and fans thought they should be taken and there are players that are always available on day three that everyone was sure would go on the first night. It's the nature of the beast.
This all comes into play for the Bears because Chicago has had some bad football teams the last few years but they haven't been so bad as to end up with a top five pick where the true cream of the crop is as far as prospects go.
That means that fans anxiously await on draft night, seeing if a top prospect slips just ever so slightly that they will be available while the Bears are on the clock.
Take for example two years ago. The Bears held the 14th pick and Aaron Donald, the best defensive tackle in the draft fell out of the top ten. Suddenly, it looked like Chicago would have a shot at a player that most thought would be long gone and would be a perfect fit for a defense in need of young playmakers.
Donald went past Tennessee at 11 and then the Giants at 12 and with the Rams on the clock at No. 13...They couldn't possibly want a DT could they? Considering they already had Robert Quinn, Chris Long and Michael Brockers it wasn't a natural fit. He would be there for Chicago.
But alas, he was the best available player and it was too good a value for the Rams to pass up. The Bears took Kyle Fuller at No. 14.
One year later the Bears held the seventh overall pick. Just outside the top five and surely there would be some great players for them to choose from.
This time around fans were hopeful that perhaps WR Amari Cooper or DT Leonard Williams would be on the board when the Bears went on the clock.
After the top three picks things looked good, if Cooper got past the Raiders the Bears could be in good shape. Then the Raiders snatched him up at No. 4. That's all right, Williams was still there. Once Williams got past Washington, a bit of a surprise at the time, it seemed like there would be no way that the Jets could pick him up. Just as the year before, the Jets were loaded along their defensive line; Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson.
Unfortunately, once again the team one selection in front of the Bears coveted the same player.
Now, in either instance there is no guarantee that the player picked ahead of them would have been the pick if they were available but there is a lot of evidence that it would have. Phil Emery was a bit of a wildcard, but Donald was reported to have had huge interest from Chicago and would have been a fit. While Kevin White was the mock virtually everywhere in the final few weeks heading into the draft, Williams was supposed to be off the board between picks three and five. Williams was rated as the best player in the draft by numerous scouting outlets.
Now on to this year.
The Bears pick 11th. They will again likely miss out on the top five prospects, but that is a given. They will not be able to even sniff players like Jared Goff, Jeremy Tunsil, Joey Bosa or Jalen Ramsey. Outside of the top three or four picks though, usually that's when things tend to get a little surprising.
Another QB could easily come off the board and it wouldn't be a shock to see DeForest Buckner and Myles Jack come off the board too.
Now we're seven picks in and things really start to open up: Vernon Hargreaves, Noah Spence, Shaq Lawson, Ronnie Stanley and Ezekiel Elliott are all still available.
With the signings of Manny Ramirez and Ted Larsen this week, Stanley doesn't seem like the no-brainer pick was he just a few weeks ago. So let's really look at some of these defensive players.
Spence: A true game-changing defensive player with huge off-field questions. He's stayed clean at Eastern Kentucky but did he impress in his interviews? Spence could fit with Tampa Bay or New York who both pick ahead of Chicago.
Lawson: Lawson appears to be some what erratic in his draft grade. I looked at several "big boards" for this article and he's ranked anywhere between 10th and 31st. It's kind of anyone's guess where he could wind up. If I had to guess I'd say he should be available but that's easy to say. He fits with any defensive-needy team ahead of the Bears: Philly, Tampa or the Giants.
Hargreaves: This is the big one. He is a player that many fans on this blog are beginning to covet and he would fill a huge need in the secondary but he is almost unanimously the second-best CB in the draft behind Ramsey and could easily land in the top ten. He definitely fits with Tampa but, to me, it would feel like Williams and Donald all over again if he went to the Giants at No. 10. They were awful against the pass last year and have a definite need at the position.
Elliott: This is an interesting player. Some fans think the Bears should roll with the group they have in Jeremy Langford, Ka'Deem Carey and Jaquizz Rodgers. Others argue if the team wants RB help it can be found in later rounds. Still others point out that Elliott might be an Adrian Peterson-type prospect. If you're one who hopes to see Elliott in Chicago you have to worry about teams such as the 49ers, Giants and Eagles all ahead of Chicago. Look out for Dallas too.
I ask you now: Which prospect would you most like to see slip to Chicago AND what is your nightmare scenario of which team snatches him up before the Bears can pounce?