With a handful of first round talents still available in the second round, having the No. 39 pick proved to be extremely beneficial to the Bears. They ended up selecting Iowa center James Daniels with the pick: a player whom many considered to be a first-round talent.
It was assumed that they would be done from there, as they did not have a third round pick. However, Chicago shocked the football world by trading up back into the second round to the No. 51 pick, giving the New England Patriots the No. 105 pick and a 2019 second-round selection. They used the pick on Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller, who tore up the American Athletic Conference in 2016 and 2017.
Both players are perfect fits for head coach Matt Nagy’s system, and both figure to make an immediate impact in the starting lineup. With those two, plus first-round pick Roquan Smith, the Bears have put together a very impressive draft class thus far. There are four more rounds left to go, though, and they have a few needs to fill. Luckily for them, there are a lot of solid players still available heading into Day 3. Let’s take a look at a few prospects who could interest the Bears.
Honorable mentions go to Virginia Tech defensive tackle Tim Settle, Arizona defensive back Dane Cruikshank, and Wake Forest edge rusher Duke Ejiofor. Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst would also be an honorable mention, but, considering his health concerns and his not fitting into Chicago’s scheme, selecting him is unlikely. And, although seeing him in navy blue and orange would be cool, UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin likely won’t go to the Bears: given their selection of Smith.
Josh Sweat, Edge, Florida State
With inside linebacker, guard (by moving Cody Whitehair over), and wide receiver all having been addressed early in the draft, edge rusher becomes far and away the Bears’ biggest need, if it wasn’t already. They’re in a good position as there are a handful of very good edge rushers left. Perhaps none offer the upside of Florida State’s Sweat.
Sweat has fallen this far due to durability concerns - he suffered a freak knee injury in 2014 - but his upside is among the highest as far as this year’s edge rushers go. He’s 6-foot-5 and 251 pounds, so he’s more than capable of matching up physically with NFL offensive tackles. He’s explosive off the snap and athletic in space, even after his knee injury. He can drop back in coverage well, and can change direction effortlessly. Sweat also has a handful of pass-rushing moves in his arsenal.
Chicago is clearly aiming to compete right away, given their aggressive approach to the draft. However, they won’t be a true threat until they develop a pass rush. Sweat offers the most potential out of the edge rushers on the board.
Tyrell Crosby, OT, Oregon
The Bears already drafted an offensive lineman, but they could use another offensive tackle on the roster. With Bobby Massie on track to hit free agency in 2019, they may want to start thinking about a replacement at right tackle. Oregon’s Crosby could be that guy.
Crosby is one of the better offensive tackles in this year’s class. He’s 6-foot-5 and 309 pounds, so he’s big enough to play tackle in the pros. He’s a strong lineman who has the drive and the anchor to bulldoze defensive linemen into the ground. He excels at maintaining leverage on opponents, and packs a solid punch. Although his body control isn’t all that great, he does have quick feet and is a decent athlete.
If Chicago decides not to pick an edge rusher in the fourth round, then a player like Crosby could end up being good enticing to pass up. He has the potential to be a starter with one or two years of grooming, which he would definitely get under Bears’ offensive line coach Harry Hiestand.
Dorance Armstrong Jr., EDGE, Kansas
As previously stated, the Bears need help off the edge. Another intriguing pass-rushing prospect is Kansas’ Armstrong Jr.
The 6-foot-4, 257-pound pass rusher didn’t test well at the Combine, but he is a fluid athlete with good explosion off the edge who can move well in space. He can flip his hips well in coverage, and is solid at changing directions. He does a good job of using his hands to shed blocks, and has good instincts. Armstrong broke out in 2016 with 10 sacks, but he only had two sacks in 2017, which is concerning. He’llhave to add some strength in the NFL, as he doesn’t offer much as a run defender.
Overall, though, Armstrong is a refined and talented edge rusher who could step in and compete for a starting spot for the Bears.
Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, EDGE, Oklahoma
Surprise! Another edge rusher.
Oklahoma’s Okoronkwo (man, that’s a lot of O’s) doesn’t have the length that the likes of Sweat and Armstrong have - he’s only 6-foot-1. However, he’s a good athlete with good bend off the edge and quick acceleration off the snap. He’s quick in space and is good at closing in on run defenders. His production with the Sooners is solid, as well: he had 17 sacks in his final two seasons with the program.
Okoronkwo can get stronger at the point of attack, and his obvious lack of length is a downside to his game. There’s no denying that he’s a talented player, though, and he may be worth a look in the fourth round.
Quenton Meeks, CB, Stanford
If the Bears decide to not pick an edge rusher in the fourth, then Stanford’s Meeks would be a good target for them in that round.
Meeks is a perfect fit for Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s scheme. In addition to the fact that Fangio used to coach at Stanford, he likes lengthy and physical cornerbacks, which is what Meeks is. At 6-foot-1 and 209 pounds, the cornerback certainly fits the size threshold for the Bears. He’s good at jamming wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, and he has long arms and good ball skills, which help him out when contesting deep balls. He’s also a great tackler who can shed blocks well and shut down screens or flat routes.
Meeks is a refined player who has good technique and is easily coachable. He’s not a fantastic athlete, as his acceleration isn’t all that great. It would be smart, though, if the Bears decided to give him a look as a potential starter down the line due to how Fangio could be able to mold him into a shutdown cornerback.