In the first three clouds, a discussed 15 players the Bears could consider with their number 8 pick or a 1st-round trade back. The next three clouds cover 22 more players and should include most players the Bears would consider in a trade-back or at their current #39 day two pick.
Cloud Four (7 players):
Isaiah Wynn G, Georgia - Would be the top guard in pretty much any other draft.
Calvin Ridley WR, Alabama - His poor combine agilities somehow didn’t change his ability to be an elite separator on tape.
Anthony Miller WR, Memphis - Route-running and toughness may be the two most important traits for a receiver’s success to translate to the NFL level, and Miller is exceptional in both. Add that to his swagger and incessant motor, and he’s a guy I will “overdraft” all day.
Leighton Vander Esch LB, Boise St - Not quite the exceptional athletic profile of Edmunds or the instincts of Smith, he has a good balance of desirable traits that make him the clear #3.
Da’Ron Payne DL, Alabama - I love sparkling white wine. I can’t help wondering: if champagne is this great, how good could a real Payne be? It all depends on whether you can find a way get his championship game performance on a regular basis.
Taven Bryan DL, Florida - Last of the interior pass-rushers with first round value on my board.
Josh Sweat Edge, FSU - An incredible athlete who would probably be a first round lock if he had been played on the edge more often. FSU played him in the interior most of the time, but his best production was from the outside.
This cloud of players I wouldn’t mind seeing the Bears picking in the second half of the first round, but is the first that might realistically fall to 39. The two players in this cloud who I’m higher on than the general consensus are Miller and Sweat. Miller is just the perfect combination of the traits and personality I value (mentioned above) who I imagine perfectly “slotting” in as an interior receiver.
I see Sweat as an elite athlete with an easier path to his ceiling as an edge rusher than an either Davenport or Lorenzo Carter. He’s not a better prospect than the other players in this tier at different positions, but edge is the second most valuable position and a position of need and those things matter to me.
Cloud Five (8 Players):
James Daniels C, Iowa - Mobility pushes him to the head of the tightly-packed group of interior lineman in this cloud.
Will Hernandez G, UTEP - With a little less mobility than Daniels, Hernandez makes up for it in strength.
Frank Ragnow C, Arkansas - Ragnow is less athletic but more consistent than the other linemen in this cloud. Mobility is likely to be particularly valuable in the Nagy offense, but consistency is probably the most valuable trade an offensive lineman can have.
Billy Price C/G, Ohio State - An impressively strong and quick athlete, Price can be reckless and over-commit on plays. He’ll need to learn to hold back or he may get beat too frequently by NFL linemen.
D.J. Moore WR, Maryland - His route-running, burst, and YAC ability will be a perfect fit in Nagy’s offense.
Derrius Guice RB, LSU - I’ve honestly put blinders on to any early RB prospects. I’m sure this guy is very good though, maybe in time he could be like a poor-man’s Jordan Howard.
Rashaan Evans LB, Alabama - Evans holds up in the run game with the other top linebackers, but doesn’t have the same elite athleticism to excel in coverage in the passing game.
Josh Jackson CB, Iowa - Jackson is terrific in zone coverage but needs to develop his skill in off-man and press. He could rotate in for zone-heavy packages and bring the turnover potential the Bears defense has been yearning for while he develops as a complete back.
The four interior offensive line in this cloud make me optimistic that one will be available when pick 39 comes around. They are currently ranked as if guard and center are positions of equal value to the Bears because of Cody Whitehair’s versatility. If the Bears see Whitehair as a center (and mini-camp gave some hints that they do) I would drop Daniels to the bottom of the list because I think he would be the weakest as a guard.
Cloud Six (7 Players):
Chuks Okorafor OT, Western Michigan - I made a fancy explanation of my love for Chuks as a Ronnie Stanley comparison in my offensive line roundtable, but I really just want an excuse to chant his new first name. Chooks Chooks Chooks.
Tyrell Crosby OT, Oregon - This soft-bodied smosher is growing on me as a short-term solution at guard and long-term solution at right tackle.
Marcus Davenport Edge, UTSA - Davenport is a large project who wasn’t challenged to develop good technique in college. His traits obviously show great potential, but his floor is too low to let him reach up to a higher cloud.
Sam Hubbard Edge, Ohio State - Hubbard is a consistent, high-floor edge who might fit best in a 4-3 but could start immediately as a weaker but consistently available Pernell McPhee.
Mike Hughes CB, UCF - Hughes might be the bizarro Josh Jackson, he’s undersized but makes up for it with speed, and he excels in man coverage but at times looks lost in zone.
Isaiah Oliver CB, Colorado - Oliver is one of the more well-balanced corners in the draft. He’s tall, smooth, and more than capable in press and off-man. He’s average at zone but not a liability, and would end up being a long-term upgrade for Amukamara’s role opposite Kyle Fuller.
Christian Kirk WR, Texas A&M - Kirk is a smart route-runner who is elusive after the catch and could really tie the Bears receiver room together.
The variety of exciting talent at high value positions in this cloud is part of what makes me more and more confident the Bears will trade back on day two if they don’t on day one. Some of these players would be “fallers” if they are on the board at 39, and others are expected to last until later on day two.
If the Bears do trade back, they will definitely be looking into the players I discuss in clouds 7 through 9, so be sure to check back Friday morning when this series will finally take us to cloud nine!