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Chicago Bears 2018 NFL Draft Clouds: 7-9

With the draft hitting it’s meatiest portion, this series finally goes to Cloud Nine.

Virginia v Wake Forest
Wake Forest Edge Duke Ejiofor rusher sacking a quarterback as he’s wont to do.

Last night was a wild chain of events that would have been a laughable mock. A half-sized quarterback went No. 1 overall. A quarterback needy team took a running-back No. 2 overall. The Bills traded up for the 57th most accurate JUCO quarterback of 2014. And the Raiders gave up the No. 10 overall pick for a third rounder next year and a third round tackle this year.

All of that might pale in comparison to the Saints giving up next year’s first round pick to trade up for a developmental edge rusher—a win-now move to get a player who’s not ready to play now—and the Steelers getting the Edmunds brothers confused and drafting a fourth round safety at No. 28 because they thought the second best linebacker in the class had fallen to them.

But most relevant to the Bears was the meteoric fall of Harold Landry—a speedy and dynamic pass-rusher whose bend has been compared to Von Miller and is unanimously beloved by the tape-junkies of Draft Twitter and the grade-mongers at Pro Football Focus. Vague reports has suggested that “some teams” have medical concerns about knee and back injuries as well as the well-known ankle injury that limited his 2017 performance. That seemed to have resolved when it came time for combine athletic testing. Not knowing what these concerns are, or whether the Bears are one of the teams with concerns, I’ll leave Landry in cloud two and as the best player available heading into Day 2.

To recap, here are my first six clouds. The player not totally crossed out are the ones available. It may be worth noting that when the Bears were on the clock at No. 8 overall, both players in cloud one were off the board, and they took the top player in cloud two. If you are reading this Ryan Pace, you are welcome to continue using my board without giving me credit. I’m just here to help the Beloved Bears in any way I can.

Cloud One:

Bradley Chubb Edge, NC State- the other half of the heart-shaped locket needed to form the elite Flubb pass-rushing duo.

Quenton Nelson Guard, Notre Dame- stop it with any too-high-for-a-guard nonsense. Interior pass rush and interior defense are becoming increasingly important in the NFL and certainly the NFC North.

Cloud Two (two players remaining):

Roquan Smith Linebacker, Georgia - if QBs can have “intangibles” so can MLBs. Roquan has larger intangibles than any LB in this draft or last.

Minkah Fitzpatrick DB, Alambama - On the Bears defense, I see Minkah as a nickel CB who plays SS or sometimes linebacker in run packages.

Harold Landry Edge, Boston College - A speed rusher who hasn’t developed a great counter move sounds a lot like Leonard Floyd. But it’s also a profile that tends to get after QBs who like to extend plays. I don’t mind the idea of two of them going after Aaron Rodgers twice a year.

Denzel Ward CB, Ohio State - Fangio likes tall corners because they tend to be better at press. Ward is short, but he’s terrific at press. Don’t overthink the measurables.

Maurice Hurst DL, Michigan - An elite “undersized” interior pass rusher in the mold of Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins may end up being the best value in this draft class.

Cloud Three (one player remaining):

Vita Vea DL, Washington - the closest comp to an actual bear to come into the draft in several years. His best bear comp is the grizzly because of his elite hump move.

Tremaine Edmunds LB, Virginia Tech - I’m likely to regret having him this low, but I prioritize instincts and football IQ at the MLB position, and Edmunds hasn’t shown he’s exceptional in these areas yet.

Jaire Alexander CB, Louisville - 2017 injuries are the only reason he’s not in the #1 CB spot. He recently tweeted a flattering draft self-evaluation. That’s the kind of playful confidence I love in a player.

Mike McGlinchey OT, Notre Dame - High floor. Medium ceiling. Good if you’re a draft prospect. Bad if you’re a building for tall people.

Connor Williams OT, Texas - Terrific 2016 followed by difficulty playing through injury in 2017. Some think he should be a guard, but if the Bears see him as a tackle, the value might push him to the top of this cloud.

Saquon Barkley - He’s only at the bottom of this cloud because I don’t want to see Jo Ho replaced.

Cloud Four (two players remaining):

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, Florida State- 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.

Cloud Five (four players remaining):

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 running back 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.

Cloud Six (five players available):

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.

Pick No. 39 is looking pretty good right now, with six picks ahead of the Bears and five of the players in my top four clouds still on the board (Landry, Hurst, Williams, Miller, and Sweat). If the Bears decide to trade back, and possibly acquire a third, the players in clouds seven through nine could be in play later in the draft today. Otherwise, these clouds include the players who would be my top targets at the beginning of Day 3.

Because I’m lazy, I’m not going to write a blurb on players already drafted.

Cloud Seven (10 players)

NFL Combine - Day 5
Stanford CB Quenton Meeks knows how to impress while catching a pigskin.

Austin Corbett G, Nevada - Needs to develop some core strength but is a well-rounded and smart player who should be a plug-and-play starter after an off-season with Harry “Hare Bear” Heistand

Nathan Shepherd DL, Fort Hays State - Dominated at a small school and impressed at the Senior Bowl. Has the potential to be a productive interior pass-rusher, and was profiled by Jacob here.

Ogbonnia Okoronkwo Edge, Oklahoma - Don’t worry, you can just call him Obo. Obo’s under ideal size but he’s fast and has an impressive arsenal of developed pass-rush moves. His ability to drop back in coverage will appeal to Fangio, and he would be able to take some of that responsibility off of Floyd, who we’d all like to see sent in to pressure more often.

Kemoko Turay Edge, Rutgers - Explosive athlete who’s still developing his moves. On a late solo pro-day he had a 6.81 second three cone, which would have given him a lot more buzz if it had happened at the combine.

Duke Ejiofor Edge, Wake Forest - Average athlete with above average skill and technique. Should be an immediate and consistent contributor.

Quenton Meeks CB, Stanford - The Meek may inherit the earth, but Meeks inherited an elite football IQ from defensive doordinator Ron Meeks. He excels in press coverage but can play any role effectively.

Carlton Davis CB, Auburn - A 6-foot-1 long-armed play-maker that could get Vic Fangio swooning.

Fred Warner LB. BYU - Played out of position most of the time in college, but shows all the traits you want in a modern linebacker.

Ronald Jones RB, USC - If the Bears were to heartbreakingly move on from Jordan Howard, the transition from Jo Ho to Ro Jo would at least be easy on the ears.

Sony Michel RB, Georgia - Drafted by the Patriots with pick 31.

Cloud Eight (15 players)

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Penn State v Washington
Huskies receiver Dante Pettis showing off his YAC in the Fiesta Bowl.

Shaquem Griffin LB, UCF - Even though we don’t need a starting LB, Griffin can be a rotational pass-rusher, a special teams super-stud, and a defensive tone-setter.

James Washington WR, Oklahoma St. - His ball-tracking skills and contested catch ability probably make him the best deep threat in the draft.

Courtland Sutton WR, SMU - I’m low on Sutton because he’s not as developed as a route-runner, but I can’t deny his athleticism and great hands. He could excel in an offense that schemes him open.

Michael Gallup WR, Colorado St. - A well-rounded wide receiver who’s good at everything but doesn’t necessary stand out at anything. This is how I felt about both Michael Thomas and JuJu Smith-Schuster, so ...

Dante Pettis WR, Washington - A smooth, savvy route-runner who reminds me of Cameron Meredith. Probably the Bears won’t want him. How do I make a frowning bear emoji on this website?

Harrison Phillips DL, Stanford - I’ll be higher on Phillips when they decide tiebreakers are decided by one-on-one wrestling matches.

Derrick Nnadi DL, Florida St. - Terrific run-stuffer but hasn’t shown much pass-rush potential.

Jamarco Jones OT, Ohio St. - Solid tackle. I’ll take it.

Kolton Miller OT, UCLA - Drafted by Oakland Raiders with the 15th pick (in the first round).

Orlando Brown OT, Oklahoma - He’s not the most athletic tackle, but he’s awesomely large and knows how to get the job done with the tools he has.

Duke Dawson CB, Florida - 5-foot-11 physical corner who’d be an immediate upgrade in the slot.

Donte Jackson CB, LSU - Extremely fast and gifted athlete. Unfortunately, his instincts aren’t ideal, and his speed can exaggerate the mistakes he makes.

Nick Chubb RB, Georgia - Ultimately, the Bears may need a running back to come in for Jo Ho if he doesn’t want to break all of the league rushing records too quickly.

Justin Reid SAF, Stanford - These two safeties are first round talents that would be hard (cont’d)

Jessie Bates SAF, Wake Forest - to pass up if they fall into the range of this cloud.

Cloud Nine (18 players)

NFL: Combine
Auburn Guard Braden Smith may be a day three value after a facial-hair related draft day tumble.

Lorenzo Carter Edge, Georgia - Amazing athlete with impressive potential. This is the profile I’d prefer roll the Day 3 dice on. He won’t be there when the other players in this cloud come up.

Marquis Haynes Edge, Mississippi - A highly productive undersized pass-rusher who can contribute as a rotational designated pass-rusher.

Arden Key Edge, LSU - If the Bears can figure out how to motivate him, he could end up being a terrific value. He visited Halas Hall, so they should have some idea what lurks behind his behavioral concerns.

Kylie Fitts Edge, Utah - A skilled pass-rusher with good hands and bend but a thorough injury history that drops him into a lower cloud.

Alex Cappa G/OT, Humbolt - Cappa is a tiny-school prospect who impressed at the Senior Bowl. If his arms hadn’t shortened by the time he got to the combine, he’d probably have more hype as a tackle prospect. He’s a good candidate to start at guard quickly and eventually take over as right tackle.

Will Richardson OT, NC State - Solid tackle who got to practice against Bradley Chubb regularly. He has a DWI and suspension the Bears will have to sort through if they think he’s worth the risk.

Martinas Rankin OL, Mississippi ST. - Intelligent lineman who lacks ideal strength and speed. Would be valuable as a five-position backup, but some think he could thrive as a starting center.

Braden Smith G, Auburn - A larger and slower guard who gets the job done. Could be a solid contributor if you can get past the orange goatee.

Mason Cole C, Michigan - Very round shape to his torso. May be a decent player but he will look good doing it even if he’s not.

DaeSean Hamilton WR, Penn - One of the best route-runners and separators in the draft, Hamilton has reliable hands and could contribute immediately in the slot.

DJ Chark WR, LSU - A size-and-speed dynamo. I would be tempted to line him up with Taylor Gabriel, Tarik Cohen, and Kevin White and send them all deep; poor Coh Coh would be the slowest of the lot.

Equanimeous St. Brown WR, Notre Dame - Incredibly athletic for his 6-foot-5 frame, but Brown isn’t as physical or effective in contested-catch situations as you’d like from a big receiver.

Keke Coutee WR, Texas Tech - He’d be in a higher cloud of the Bears didn’t already have Taylor Gabriel. He’s a quick separator with great YAC potential and might have the most adorable name in the draft.

Jack Cichy LB, Wisconsin - A star linebacker who didn’t play in 2017 due to a knee injury is the type of value Pace could pounce on in day three.

Genard Avery LB, Memphis - Athletic linebacker who could double as a situational edge rusher and be a familiar face for Anthony Miller in the locker room.

Mike Gesicki TE, Penn St. - These tight ends fall to my last clouds for two reasons. 1. Adam (cont’d)

Dallas Goedert TE, South Dakota St. - Shaheen. 2. Trey Burton.

Hayden Hurst - Drafted by the Ravens.

I imagine Cloud Nine should take the Bears through their fourth round picks. If Day 2 is anything like Day 1, there will be a scattering of players that I value highly for the Bears that fall further than I expected. Seeing all of the talent in this range, I’m hoping the Bears trade back today, but I would understand staying put or even trading up for Landry or Hurst if the Bears feel as good about them as I do.