The draft is right around the corner. Armchair GMs are soon going to need to second-guess Ryan Pace’s actual moves instead of trying to dictate what he should do. In the conclusion to this series, I want to look at what the Bears’ draft might look like if they were limited to players coming out of the SEC. I followed the same rules as always, in that I used the Fanspeak default settings, I made no trades, and I could only take players from a specific conference (in this case, from the SEC). For those who are interested, the full draft can be found here [Link].
This obviously went better than the last time, when I was limited to players from the Big 12.
#8 Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB (Alabama)
It’s hard to write something about Minkah Fitzpatrick that has not already been said. However, I think it’s worth stressing here how much potential he has to be a next-generation defensive back. As NFL coverages evolve into a model where five defensive backs are the norm, players who can solve mismatches for the defense are going to be at a premium.
I was not tempted by: Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia). Smith is a good player, but he doesn’t overwhelm me. More than that, I think he’s better suited to a 4-3 defense, and I’m just not sure he offers the ability to transform a defense in the same way that Fitzpatrick does.
#39 Arden Key, EDGE (LSU)
I gambled on Key, largely because I see him as having the potential, still, to be a truly game-changing player. Key has an amazing amount of talent, and while he has had issues, if he can overcome them he might be a Top 5 talent at a position of need secured for a second-rounder.
The safer bet was: Calvin Ridley, WR (Alabama). The Bears still need to revitalize their receiver corps, and while Ridley is probably not worth a Top 10 pick, it’s hard to say he’s not worth a Top 40 pick. If I were actually making the call, it’s hard to say if I actually would have gambled on Key instead of Ridley.
#105 Bradley Bozeman, C (Alabama)
I like Bozeman as a player, and I think that nailing down the center position would do a lot for Chicago’s line woes. According to a number of boards this is a reach, but sometimes he went before I got to #115, and the time to take the player you want is when he’s available.
I passed on: Tony Brown, CB (Alabama). Supposedly, the Bears need a cornerback. After investing in Fitzpatrick in the draft and after the free agent signings this offseason, I don’t see it as a need worthy of a fourth-round pick. Or, rather, I don’t see Brown as the player who is worth that fourth-round pick. He’s not that strong in the pass game, and he had judgment issues that led to a suspension in college.
#115 Breeland Speaks, DL (Mississippi)
I think Speaks is underrated. I think he’s got a good awareness on the field, and his frame suggests to me that he could make it as a really versatile defensive end in a 3-4 system. I don’t think he’s going to tilt the field, but I do think he can be a reliable starter who lets other players on the team--players with more talent and more discipline--make a true impact.
I skipped: Bo Scarborough (RB, Alabama). I’ve seen enough big, powerful backs from the SEC to doubt that Scarborough gives the Bears anything that they are not already getting from Jordan Howard. Scarborough is not a real threat in the receiving game, and while he has power, he’s not going to break anyone’s ankles.
#145 Oren Burks, LB (Vanderbilt)
By this point in the draft, most of the really good talent in the SEC is gone. However, I think Burks is a bargain, here. He’s another hybrid player, in that he’s sometimes a safety and sometimes a linebacker. That could mean that he ends up being not much of anything at all, but I have no problem churning talent at ILB until the Bears find the right mix. Burks is not consistent, but that’s why it’s okay to bring him on board and give him a chance to develop. At worst, I think he could be an impact player at special teams.
I waited on: Levi Wallace (CB, Alabama). Read below to find out why...
#181 Levi Wallace, CB (Alabama)
Wallace is the sort of player I had in mind when I said that the truly good talent in the SEC was depleted by Round 5. Wallace lacks the physicality I like to see in defensive backs. He also lacks the experience that would be nice to have. On the other hand, he did a good job of making plays on the ball when given the opportunity, and it makes sense here to take a player who has potential upside, especially with the other players available are even less promising.
I sort of considered: Marcell Frazier (Edge, Missouri). I like the idea of investing in the pass-rush position, and I also like the idea of taking depth for the trenches. However, Key is a much better fit for OLB, and Speaks is a better fit at DE. I think Frazier might turn into an okay backup DE in a 4-3 system, but I do not think he would be at his best in a 3-4.
#224 Deandre Goolsby (TE, Florida)
Goolsby is probably not going to make a roster. He usually struggles to block, and while he’s an okay receiving threat, he won’t create mismatches for a defense. However, every so often when I watched him I saw him flash the potential to use his body in traffic, and I think there’s an outside chance that he could become one of those bubble players who provides depth for years, flashing potential every other game.
I avoided: Antonio Callaway (WR, Florida). Callaway has been charged with sexual assault and marijuana possession. He was involved in some sort of credit card fraud issue. He had a diluted sample at the combine. Basically, Callaway is a kid with problems, and while he has talent on on the football field, I don’t know how often he’d see the field, and I don’t know how comfortable I would be having him there in Navy and Orange.
So, with those drafts out of the way, I’d like the community to weigh in. Which of the conferences produced the best draft for the 2018 Bears?
Which conference produced the best draft?
This poll is closed
Non-P5: Q. Nelson, Vander Esch, Gallup, Shepherd, Neal, Parker, and Ostman
Big 10: Jackson, Price, Gobbs, Jewell, Holmes, Wadley, and A. Nelson
ACC: Edmunds, O’Neill, Settle, Ejiofor, Yiadom, Berrios, and J. Jones
PAC12: Vea, Oliver, Ballage, Quessenberry, Fitts, Victor, and Lasley
Big 12: Williams, Washington, Armstrong, Hill, Ateman, Ford, and Flowers
SEC: Fitzpatrick, Key, Bozeman, Speaks, Burkes, Wallace, and Goolsby