Now that the initial wave of free agency is done, teams will start to tweak their draft boards. The NFL Combine is in the books, schools are in the midst of their pro days, and individual prospect visits have started up as well. Every team will rank potential players differently, and everything is fluid.
With the NFL Draft holding no guarantees, many teams plug glaring holes with free agents, then fill out their roster via the draft. General manager Ryan Pace and the Chicago Bears have used this philosophy the last three drafts. This offseason saw Pace attack the offensive skill positions, leaving his team in prime position to go best player available in the draft.
The key to the Bears first round pick — currently eighth overall — could very well be the quarterbacks. Some are predicting that as many as four QBs will go off the board before they pick, and if that’s the case, they’ll likely stay put and take the BPA. If one of the top QBs fall to them, they’ll possibly look to trade back with a quarterback needy team. Then again, Pace has traded up the last two years, so everything is on the table.
In the latest Mel Kiper mock draft, ESPN’s top draftnik has four QBs going in the first five picks, leaving this as his Bears selection.
Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
I like what the Bears have done in free agency, adding weapons for quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel. Now go get Trubisky some more protection in Nelson, a dominant interior blocker who can slot in Josh Sitton’s spot. Another thing to note: Chicago hired Harry Hiestand, Nelson’s position coach at Notre Dame, this offseason to coach its offensive line.
I’m good with the Bears taking the consensus top offensive linemen in the draft.
‘But he’s a guard?’
He’ll also have the biggest impact on the team, because he’ll keep pressure out of Trubisky’s face and he’ll open up running lanes for Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. Plus he plays with a nasty streak at times, and there’s always room on an offensive line for more nasty.
‘But he’s not an ideal fit in a zone blocking scheme?’
Yes he is. He played in the ZBS in college and he was fine. Would he thrive in a power man scheme? Probably, but he’s athletic enough to do what the Bears will ask of him. His struggles working up to the second level can be fixed has he hones his technique as a professional.
Now let’s take a look around a few other mocks to see how thay have the Bears drafting.
The latest from SB Nation has Dan Kadar mocking Nelson to the Bears too.
The choice of Nelson is purely a best-player-available proposition. It’s also a slight indictment on Kyle Long’s inability to stay healthy. Nelson is a force on the offensive line. He enters the NFL with almost no flaws. He’s a strong, technically sound blocker who at the least is a Pro Bowl guard straight away. Whether or not he’ll get tried at tackle is to be seen. His college line coach Harry Hiestand is now with Chicago and would certainly vouch for Nelson regardless of the position he plays.
While Long staying healthy is a factor, I don’t think the Bears would draft Nelson to replace him. Long has taken care of his body this offseason and they believe he’ll be ready to go for camp.
CBS Sports also has the Bears taking Nelson saying,
The Bears say thank you to the teams ahead of them and take their guy in Nelson. Ryan Pace’s successful offseason continues.
Another one at CBS Sports has the Bears taking Nelson, but they have them trading up to six to do so.
Dream scenario for Bears fans here. With free agency serving as an opportunity to secure Allen Robinson, Trey Burton and Taylor Gabriel, GM Ryan Pace again pays a big price (a third-round pick?) to move up a small way and get the guy he wants. He’s giving Mitchell Trubisky everything he needs at this point.
While I think Nelson is a fantastic prospect, I’m not trading up to take him.
Then again, if Ryan Pace believes this is the last time his team will be picking this high up in the draft, maybe he goes for broke.
The most recent from NFL.com is also Nelson.
The Bears have a need at guard, and Harry Hiestand, Nelson’s O-line coach at Notre Dame, is now the O-line coach for the Bears. Nelson would fit perfectly.
The latest from the Sporting News has Nelson off the board, so they have the Bears doing this.
8. Chicago Bears: Trumaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
The Bears were wise to keep Vic Fangio as defensive coordinator and retain starting cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller. But at the second level of their base 3-4, they could use a dynamic, versatile playmaker who can thrive inside or outside. Fangio, formerly of San Francisco, can get his Patrick Willis/NaVorro Bowman-type here.
Edmunds would be an athletic fall back plan if Nelson is gone, and most mock draft boards have him as Chicago’s pick in that scenario.