It can get tiring reading positive things about the Bears in the off-season. I mean, Ryan Pace has built up so much momentum in terms of finding a promising young quarterback, finding free agents to fill a number roster holes, and even assembling a surprisingly well-rounded coaching staff that it can be a little difficult for the amateur armchair GM to stay disgruntled. A handful of doubters have gone so far as to suggest that maybe, under the right circumstances, the Bears might not have a losing record this season.
That’s why I felt it was time to explain why this draft class sucks, too. That’s right. If you thought that the only truly bad draft Pace had was the one starring Kevin White, or if you felt that the head-scratching reach for a Chipotle-fed tight end from Ashland was behind us, this article is dedicated to speed up the transition to summer by bringing a little heat to the available takes on this draft class.
In the words of Den Master Ken Mitchell, every party needs a pooper, and that’s why they invited me along.
#8 Roquan Smith (LB, Georgia)
What. Was. Pace. Thinking. ?. Forget about the fact that Pace wasted a Top 10 pick on an off-the-ball linebacker. Ignore the fact that the positional value is all wrong. Disregard the fact that he drafted a player to fill a need that didn’t exist (after all, interior linebacker was one of the few positions on this team that was less awful than the others). Instead, just remember that Smith is barely over six feet and that he walks around under the 240 lbs of
professional scrawny man living Gumby fellow Georgia product Leonard Floyd. Focus on the fact that when offensive linemen look at Smith hard, he becomes blocked.
Look, this is a great move for a 4-3 team who needs a rotational WILL to bring along. It’s a solid play for a team that is set at the pass rush. For the Bears, it’s like saying “nah, we don’t need to plug any holes, we’ll just keep drafting like it’s 1970 and stopping the run on the second level is what matters.” Ugh. I thought John Fox left town.
#39 James Daniels (IOL, Iowa)
If the Bears had been ignoring the interior of the offensive line in the draft to date, I can see this pick making sense. The Big Ten is a great place to go for linemen, especially interior linemen, and Kirk Ferentz does a good job with the players he sends into the NFL. Unfortunately, this move screams “ignoring strengths for the sake of the same strength.” After making Kyle Long one of the highest paid guards in the league, after picking up Cody Whitehair and Jordan Morgan in prior drafts, and after bringing on board offensive line guru Harry Hiestand, Pace spends another draft pick on Daniels.
So, there are only three positions on the offensive line? Tackles no longer exist? Apparently Pace is unaware that sometimes people rush the passer from outside (Side note: Of course! That makes sense, and his ignorance of this fact goes a long way to explaining why he felt Mike Glennon could be a starting quarterback). By going after Daniels, Pace gets a quality player he didn’t need, he finds someone who is already well-coached to become well-coached again, and he ignores other needs.
#51 Anthony Miller (WR, Memphis)
Wow. Seriously? When did the Bears decide to become the Smurfs on offense? The 5’11” Miller might have been selected just to keep Pace’s pet project Tarik Cohen from pulling his neck muscles every time he talks to all of the other players on offense (he did commit to cutting down on injuries, right?). Miller, at least, will just have to bend a little bit. Okay, so Miller is undersized by the standards of most wide receivers. Let’s look at Lance Zierlein’s draft profile for him:
“His inconsistent hands are definitely a concern, but his ability to get open and to work all three levels of the field increase his chances for success as a WR3.”
That’s an endorsement right there. He might become a WR3. It’s hard to tell which Pace trend this more closely follows: trading up for a project, or spending a second-rounder on a small school prospect with inconsistent hands.
#115 Joel Iyiegbuniwe (LB, Western Kentucky)
I love the idea of taking a hometown kid (born in Chicago and raised in Bolingbrook) to come back and play linebacker for the Chicago Bears! Not only is that a great story, it’s a great move for a team that has ignored the interior linebacker position in free agency and in recent drafts. I can see the movie now. Instead of Rudy, it can be called Iggy, and it will inspire generations.
Wait, let me go back up and check out the first entry...huh. So, Pace just drafted an ILB? With the eighth overall pick in the draft? Weird. Does he know this? Because it seems like maybe drafting the same position in the same draft with two of his top four picks is a little off. It seems like the kind of move made by a guy who doesn’t know how to build a football team.
That, or (and this is my hope), he is really just trolling the media and wants to make Joel do all the interviews and have everyone try to pronounce his last name. Maybe the uniform guy annoyed him or something. Those two things would at least make a little bit more sense.
#145 Bilal Nichols (DL, Delaware)
Well, it’s nice to know that Pace is determined to keep throwing mediocre talent at the defensive end position. Apparently after Bullard plummeted like a rock, he was flawed enough for Pace to like him. Roy Robertson-Harris is another example of the milquetoast talent Pace likes putting opposite Akiem Hicks, because apparently having two good players in a set is sorcery. It is into this tradition that the Bears place Nichols, whose claim to fame seems to be that he attended a “Public Ivy League.” Hurray. The dude is big, but as Adam Shaheen learned last year, there’s a big jump from the talent seen in the NFL and the talent seen in a small program.
#181 Kylie Fitts (EDGE, Utah)
Saying Fitts had injury concerns coming into this draft is like saying that Jeremy Langford is unlikely to make the Bears’ roster this year. Technically, it is true. It is also such an understatement that it boarders on misdirection. Pace is breaking new ground, but he’s doing it with a stable progression of his own innate talent.
He began by signing broken-down free agents to put on the field. Then, he accelerated his development by drafting players who would break upon setting foot on the field. Finally, he has reached a state of perfect pre-injury. He is now drafting players who are too injured to start from the very beginning. The next step is to injure players as soon as they contemplate playing football, so perhaps someone should warn local Pop Warner clubs.
#224 Javon Wims (WR, Georgia)
Sometimes I think that Ryan Pace is still a little kid playing with toys. You know how sometimes there would be toys where there were a handful of things (construction equipment, lions, whatever) that you added all together to make a big super-powerful robot? I think Pace is under the delusion that position groups work this way in the NFL. He gets a bunch of lousy players and throws them all together, then he gets surprised when Deva-Voltron-stator doesn’t walk out onto the field and catch everything.
I have nothing against Wims exactly, but when half of every draft profile I can dig up on him talks about his tendency to drop things, I worry a little. I find it hard to believe that after everything done with the receivers position group this off-season, there wasn’t younger tackle to draft and develop, or at least a kicker or punter to try out.