As time runs short before the NFL draft the pressure is increasing daily. So many questions to answer and so little time. Will Mo Wilkerson be moved from NY? What team will mortgage their draft future (besides L.A.) to secure a QB this time around? The trade market is cranking up but so are the smoke machines. The best advice I can give any draft fans at this time of year is the old line from the X-Files: "Trust No One". Without further ado, 10 fearful draft predictions and couple of random 3-player lists:
Prediction: I think four QB's in the 1st round is a lock. Depending on how fast the third one is chosen, a possible fifth QB could slide in at the last spot... although Denver will likely not choose him. Rationale: Goff and Wentz will go in the top 5 picks and then the watch is on. If a team panics (and they often do about QB's) then Paxton Lynch comes into play strongly right around the Bears choice. All of this makes the Bears choice more valuable; either as trade bait or by simply selecting one of the quality non-QB's who falls. If that panic does happen, and Lynch pops off the board early (inside the top 10) the fourth QB (likely Connor Cook) will come off sooner too. That could end the QB action in the 1st round, but it might not. The last wildcard in the 1st round could be a team enamored with the having power to exercise the 5th year rookie contract option over a QB. The mystery trade-up team would slide into Denver's last spot in the 1st to secure an extra cheap year of labor on their QB of the future. Don't underestimate the power of saving serious money on the game's most expensive position. Likely target (if Cook is gone)? Cardale Jones.
Prediction: The second RB chosen will be selected at least 1 full round (32 picks) after Ezekiel Elliott. Rationale: Zeke is a great player and probably the best all-around offensive player in this draft. That makes him one of the "safer" choices and GM's love security. He'll be chosen within the first 15 picks regardless of the QB drama. Then we'll wait at least 32 more picks before another runner goes off the board.
Prediction: Will Fuller is chosen before Laquon Treadwell Rationale: If you had said this even 6 months ago you would have likely been laughed out of the room. I don't like it, but I am hearing over and over again that Fuller's speed and big play ability will have him off the board before Treadwell. I actually saw a mock where Treadwell fell out of the 1st round the other day. While he's not my top WR this year (Doctson is), I don't see that happening. Treadwell is not Alshon, but he is a very good football player.
Prediction: Jaylon Smith is not drafted in the first two days (3 rounds) of the draft. Rationale: This sucks and I am sad just writing about it. Smith was an exceptional talent before his knee injury, possibly the top-rated player overall (it would have been a good struggle between Tunsil, Ramsey and Smith if he was healthy). Now you've got a LB whose knee may never let him perform on the professional football stage. That would be a terrible shame. Some team likely picks him later on, but I can't say that is smart pick right now.
Prediction: Myles Jack is drafted in the top 5; right where you thought he'd be all along. Rationale: Sometimes I hate the Draft. I really do. The last minute slander on Jack's knee is one of those times. 32 teams looked at his knee, very closely, and not one of them red-flagged him for medical concerns. Not one. But now some team that sees an advantage in trying to make him slip a few spots feels like it should start a rumor right before the draft that his knee is a "ticking time bomb". Shameful.
Prediction: 4 OT's go in round 1. Rationale: Tunsil, Stanley, Decker, and Conklin are my choices to fill those spots. We'll see if NFL teams feel the same way. Depending on how nervous teams get about the run on offensive tackles, Jason Spriggs could slide into the last few picks of the 1st round as well.
Prediction: There will be another big trade within the top 5 picks Rationale: The wars to select a starting QB are not done being waged by the teams that don't have one. Keep an eye on the Jets, 49er's and Eagles as candidates to make the move up. Darkhorse team? The Bills. Sadly they don't believe in Tyrod Taylor and may look to shake up their QB picture yet again.
Prediction: Noah Spence will be chosen after Leonard Floyd. Rationale: Not the way I'd do it (I have Spence over Floyd) but the weird, elixir-like combination of Floyd's length and Spence's off field issues might cause the Georgia rusher to be snagged before Spence leaves the board. Again... not the way I'd do it but I think it might happen.
Prediction: The Patriots will pick a player by the 5th round who I have never heard of at all, or only heard of in passing. Rationale: It happens almost every other year. I feel like I'm due.
Prediction: Only one TE will be chosen in the first two rounds, making it the loneliest position on the draft board. Rationale: I think a team will jump at Hunter Henry in the 2nd but can't see any other TE's leaving the board before the 3rd. My next choice to leave the board would be Nick Vannett (he's a great football player) but if he is chosen in the 2nd I'd be very surprised.
Top 3 Draft Choices I'd Like to See in Chicago - based solely on their play style on film:
- Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama - Chicago and hard-hitting linebackers are match made in heaven. If Ragland somehow becomes a Bear during the draft I will likely cry tears of pure joy. The world would be prefect for one brief moment.
- Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia - Joseph is a smart, rangey safety with very good ball skills. But that's not the reason he makes my list. Joseph hits opposing players with a ferocity of purpose and pure power that would endear him to Bears fans before the regular season even got underway.
- Joshua Garnett, G, Stanford - Watching Garnett block ahead of a run play is like seeing a runaway snowplow careen down the interstate. You just know it's going to hit something and the something is going to be very, very sorry that happened. The Bears needs for guards is low but that's not how I made this list. He is a finisher and would set a tone very similar to Slauson and Long on the Bears O-line.
Top 3 Draft choices for the Bears That Would Confuse Me the Most:
- Will Fuller, WR, Notre Dame - he adds a speed dimension but not much else to a (now) somewhat loaded position on the Chicago roster. I would struggle to see the value in adding him to the team.
- Any CB in the 1st round not named Hargreaves, Jackson or Alexander - The Bears need corners and they need them as badly as any position on the team. But if Chicago reaches for a prospect at the position early on (Eli Apple, Xavien Howard or Artie Burns come to mind as the candidates who would make me wince the most) I will be hard-pressed to call that a great choice.
- Any RB in the 1st round not named "Zeke" - You can argue all you'd like about value and where to find it picking RB's in the draft.... but don't try and convince people that Ezekiel Elliott is not a pro-ready player who can step on to an NFL roster and contribute at a high level right now. He is and he will. He's not my favorite choice for the 1st round but I wouldn't moan about it either. Drafting well is about finding good football players who can help your team and Zeke is certainly that kind of player.