Draft week is finally upon us. The months of endless debates about positional value and immediate impact are finally, thankfully closing. No one knows what the Chicago Bears’ actual plan is with their third overall pick in the 2017 Draft and perhaps that’s a good thing. It keeps every scenario in play.
The only notion that’s for certain, is that whoever is ultimately the first pick by general manager Ryan Pace, better be a franchise player, or else. This is perhaps subjective to some, but there should be no doubt that up until this point, Thursday’s Bears pick is the most crucial selection of this regime and what will ultimately make or break it.
We’ve already gone through our favorites of players the Bears could pick, our top “consolation” prizes, and guys we’d prefer they avoid. But all of that is potentially very different from who we believe Chicago will actually select as opposed to what we ourselves see as the best addition.
So here’s an end to this sometimes testy draft conversation, the peak. Here’s our belief of who the Bears will ultimately invest their long-term future in.
4. In the end, who do the Bears actually take at No. 3 overall?
Robert Zeglinski: Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson is obviously who I prefer the Bears select should they stay at No. 3 and I also believe this is the guy they’re going to take if likely available. Every time Pace has been afforded the opportunity to talk about what he likes at quarterback and a player “who elevated the program”, the only person that comes to mind for me, is Watson and his experience.
There are questions about how Watson’s game translates to the NFL and how successful he’ll ultimately be - along with the rest of the 2017 quarterback class - but that fear won’t have the Bears shy away. Pace once talked about how none of the relatively comparable Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota and his questions of an “easy” offense at Oregon scared him away in the slightest (albeit with Mariota being more polished), and that same ideal applies to Watson.
He’s going to take time to develop. He’s going to need a lot of refinement, but this is the quarterback the Bears will believe can take them to the promised land. A home run with huge risk in essence that they’ll take a chance on. Watson is a winner with dynamic playmaking, intangibles-galore, and is the type of leader this franchise needs under center. I don’t see the Bears straying away from him if given the opportunity.
Ken Mitchell: I think the Bears take Watson. He's what Pace is looking for, and our biggest needs (defensive backs) are going to be there later (this is a rich draft in cornerbacks and safeties). Pace has been a "swing for the fences" guy in the first round in each of his first two drafts, then has gone value from there on out. I think he tries that again with Watson, knowing the kid won't be in line to start this year.
If he doesn't go quarterback early, it's because he has more faith in Glennon than most. But if Glennon were in this draft, there's a good chance he would be the first quarterback off the board.
Lester Wiltfong Jr.: I still believe the Bears will go with Watson.
Just going off of what Pace has said about the quarterback position, I think he's leaning towards Watson. Having Mike Glennon as the No. 1 passer in 2017, with Watson and the veteran Mark Sanchez behind him, would be a solid quarterback room. The veteran pickups will allow them to take their time with Watson, and he may need time to acclimate to the professional game. If Glennon somehow plays really good football, they could trade or keep him as a reasonably priced No. 2.
Josh Sunderbruch: Ugh. Watson.
I think it's going to be a quarterback, and I think it's going to be one of the potential “home run" guys. That sounds like Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer or Watson, and Watson is a little bit less of a risk. He screams "Pace pick" to me.
Jeff Berckes: I believe the choice will come down to LSU’s Jamal Adams and Alabama’s Jonathan Allen (with Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett and Stanford’s Solomon Thomas gone), and Pace can't go wrong here.
I'm personally in love with the intangibles that Adams appears to bring to the table but ultimately, I think Pace goes with Allen. The Alabama lineman would immediately join the five-technique rotation with Akiem Hicks and Jonathan Bullard, and has the pass rushing ability to slide inside on sub-packages to rush with Pernell McPhee and Leonard Floyd. It's a much safer pick than the Kevin White gamble of 2015 and ultimately I think the safety of the pick brings the 2016 Bronko Nagurski Award winner to Chicago.
Sam Householder: I really don't know because there are a lot of good options and there's a lot of ways the team could go. I'll say Allen because head coach John Fox loves going defense in the top five (see Julius Peppers and Von Miller) and because the defensive players are so much more highly thought of than the offensive prospects.
I also think that Pace and Fox will value pass rushers more than the back end of the defense. It’s my belief that the Bears are going to go defense at No. 3 overall and take the best available quarterback with their second pick at No. 36.
E.J. Snyder: I have no idea who the Bears will take and that's a good thing. Pace has positioned himself to truly trust his board, pick the player he sees who holds the most value, and is the best fit. I would not be surprised by a quarterback, tight end, defensive lineman, edge rusher, cornerback, or safety. I would be surprised by a running back, wide receiver, offensive lineman, or inside linebacker.
If I had to throw a dart, I'd say Watson on offense, or Adams on defense. Adams has the look of the safeties that the San Francisco 49ers drafted in the first round when defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was there.