The first day of the 2018 NFL Draft has come and gone. It was a good one for the Chicago Bears, who ended up selecting Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith with the No. 8 overall pick. In adding the 2017 Butkus Award winner, the Bears have pro-ready linebacker who has the athleticism, instincts, and the tackling ability to make an immediate impact on their defense.
However, they still have a myriad of needs entering Day 2. They only have a second round pick, as their third rounder was traded to the San Francisco 49ers last year to trade up for Mitchell Trubisky. That said, it’s crucial that Chicago knock this pick out of the park. Judging by the talent available heading into the second round, that should be relatively simple.
A lot of extremely talented players are on the board, many of whom I considered to be first round prospects. One will likely recognize a lot of names on this list and be surprised that they are still on the board. The best thing, though, is the fact that the Bears are basically guaranteed to get great value if they stay put at No. 39 overall pick. have nine players on this list - four honorable mentions and five players on the actual list - which means that, considering the fact that Chicago has the seventh pick in the second round, it is a guarantee that at least three of these prospects will be available when they’re up.
Without further ado, these are some of the best players available for the Bears to draft on Friday night.
Honorable mentions go to UTEP guard Will Hernandez, SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton, and Michigan defensive lineman Maurice Hurst. All three of them are good players, but neither of them are great fits for Chicago’s current offensive and defensive schemes. Ohio State edge rusher Sam Hubbard would be a good addition to the Bears’ front seven, too
SB Nation has a full comprehensive list to consider outside of these names.
Harold Landry, Edge, Boston College
The fact that Landry, an edge rusher projected to go within the first 20 picks of the first round, is still on the board, is surprising. Unless there’s something that NFL teams know that the rest of the world doesn’t, Landry should have been drafted to a team by now. This is the perfect chance for the Bears to further boost their front seven.
Landry is an athletic edge rusher who has great bend and is explosive off the snap. He does a good job of dipping under offensive tackles, and he can change directions well. His production at Boston College was also impressive: 25 sacks in four years, including an FBS-leading 16.5 in 2016. He has to work on the moves in his pass-rushing arsenal at the next level, but the athletic tools are there for him to succeed.
The Bears have a glaring hole at the edge rusher position alongside Leonard Floyd. Adding Landry would give them an athletic duo with the potential to develop into one of the league’s more dangerous pass-rusher tandems.
Joshua Jackson, CB, Iowa
Joshua Jackson’s fall was relatively surprising. An athletic and lengthy cornerback with arguably the best ball skills in the draft class, Jackson seemingly has a lot of the tools to succeed in the NFL. Teams passed on him in Round 1, so he sits near the top of the board among players available. Chicago could find that too enticing to pass up.
At 6-foot-1, Jackson has the height that Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio likes at the cornerback position. He’s a good athlete who has fluid hips and has enough straight-line speed to not get burned on deep patterns. His ball skills are fantastic, as he has the body control and the ability to track down a ball in the air as well as a wide receiver (which, coincidentally enough, was the position he played in his freshman year at Iowa). That ability is apparent in the stat sheet, too, as he ended up with eight interceptions in 2017. As one could expect from a player without a lot of experience at cornerback, Jackson can improve his tackling abilities. However, if he can improve on those, then he could be a Pro Bowl-caliber player.
Chicago has one of their long term starters at cornerback in Kyle Fuller. By adding Jackson, they would find him a right-hand man.
Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado
Similarly to the aforementioned Jackson, Isaiah Oliver has a lot of the tools to succeed in the NFL. He’s physical at the point of attack, long, and has very good ball skills. To the surprise of many, he also ended up dropping out of the first round. Chicago was rumored to consider trading down in the first round to pick him, so selecting him in the second would make a ton of sense.
Oliver would be a good fit in the Bears’ defense. He’s 6-foot-1, so he immediately meets the length threshold. He’s physical at the point of attack, can mirror routes well, a solid tackler, and has good ball skills. He has a good understanding of the wide receiver position, as he played there during his freshman year in Colorado. As an added bonus, he has a bit of value as a punt returner, even though the Bears don’t necessarily need one.
His production isn’t all that great - three interceptions in two seasons - but the potential is obvious with Oliver. He would be a great candidate to sit for a year under Prince Amukamara and take the league by storm with some more refinement.
Christian Kirk, WR, Texas A&M
With Cameron Meredith gone, the wide receiver position is a need for the Bears. Neither D.J. Moore nor Calvin Ridley went as high as many had expected them to, which caused players like Kirk to drop. If Matt Nagy wants to complete his group of offensive weapons. then he is definitely worth a look.
Kirk is an ideal fit in Nagy’s offense. He’s best suited in the slot in the NFL, which is what the Bears need with Meredith gone. He’s an athletic receiver who is quick in his cuts, can change directions well and is elusive after the catch. He has reliable hands, and his production is solid and consistent: in three seasons, he had at least 70 receptions, 900 receiving yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also a good special teams player who has had six punt returns and one kick return go for touchdowns.
Kirk isn’t a physical, “lob-it-up-and-he’ll-catch-it” receiver, but he doesn’t need to be. His athleticism and shiftiness will make him a good player in the NFL. The Bears could be the team to give him a chance.
Connor Williams, OL, Texas
At the beginning of the 2017 season, many saw Williams as the best offensive tackle in the 2018 NFL Draft class. Once he injured his knee, though, the decline of his stock began. It took another hit when he returned and looked a step slower than he did in 2016. Regardless, he’s a good blocker who can provide an instant starter for whichever team drafts him.
Williams is a long and lanky offensive line prospect at 6-foot-5 and 296 pounds. He is a physical, no-nonsense blocker who has the strength and the drive to knock defensive linemen to the ground. He has good balance, and he does a good job of maintaining leverage. His motor is impressive as well, as he more than often blocks to the whistle.
Williams’ lateral movement isn’t as good as it was in 2016, which may make him a better fit for right tackle or one of the guard spots. However, no matter where he plays, he can develop into a reliable starter in the pros, potentially with the Bears.