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Despite no 1st or 2nd round pick, experts like what the Bears did

Technically speaking Khalil Mack and Anthony Miller were the Bears first two draft picks, but draft analysts seemed to like what the Bears did this weekend as evidenced by their grades.

Kansas v Iowa State Photo by David Purdy/Getty Images

It may have taken a while before the Chicago Bears got on the clock in the 2019 NFL Draft, but once general manager Ryan Pace traded up in the third round, we knew something exciting was about to happen.

Most knowledgeable draft analysts pegged Iowa State running back David Montgomery as a good fit for the Matt Nagy offense, so with him still on the board midway through the third round, Pace had to strike.

Our own Aaron Lemming gave the Bears overall haul (including the reported undrafted free agent class) a solid B grade, and we’ll also have a couple of our other guys giving their takes later this week, but for now let’s take a trip around some national draft analysts to see how they though the Bears fared.

After checking out what the “pros” had to say, be sure to give us your grade for the Bears in the accompanying poll.

Here’s a reminder of who the Bears selected in the 2019 NFL Draft.

  • 3rd Round: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
  • 4th Round: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
  • 6th Round: Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State
  • 7th Round: Kerrith Whyte Jr., RB, FAU
  • 7th Round: Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta St

ESPN’s Mel Kiper - B+

This draft class is Khalil Mack. Simple as that. And do you think Bears fans are OK with that? I do. Chicago went 12-4 under new coach Matt Nagy last season, thanks to a dominant defense led by Mack. Now, the haul was massive; Chicago gave up its first-round picks in 2019 and 2020, plus a third-rounder this year and a sixth-rounder next year, and got back Mack and 2020 second- and fifth-rounders. That looks like an even bigger deal when you see the trade compensation for stars like Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. But Mack is different -- he changed the entire defense.

So keep that in mind when you see that Chicago didn’t pick until No. 73, where it landed running back David Montgomery, a bulldozer at 222 pounds. With Jordan Howard gone, expect Montgomery to get early touches here, and keep an eye on Kerrith Whyte Jr. (No. 222), who sat behind Devin Singletary at FAU but is a stellar return man. Riley Ridley (No. 126) is an excellent route-runner, not unlike his brother, Calvin, though Ridley isn’t as explosive. That’s a solid value pick and a guy who could help Mitchell Trubisky.

So, yes, it’s tough to get a complete handle on a class with only five picks, but when one of those counts as the most dominant edge rusher in the game, we’ll give them a slight pass. What keeps this from an “A” for me is not getting a safety. But maybe they think Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, who got a one-year deal this offseason, is the long-term answer.‘s Chad Reuter- A

Khalil Mack was 100 percent worthy of the Bears’ interest. He played lights-out in 2018 and I suspect will be a force over the next few seasons, barring injury (which was a bit of a concern last year). There’s no question he was worth giving up their 2019 first- and sixth-round picks, as well as the 2020 third-round pick as a sweetener. And parting with a 2020 first-round pick and swapping second-round picks with the Raiders next year may only be a minimal loss for the Bears if they are a playoff team and Oakland does not greatly exceed its win total from last season.

When they were finally on the clock Friday night (they dealt away their second-rounder this year in a draft day trade last year to land WR Anthony Miller), the Bears found their new running back in Montgomery, who can carry a heavy workload. They had to give up a 2020 fourth-round pick as part of the deal, though.

Getting Ridley in the fourth round was an absolute steal. I thought he was a second-round value. Shelley could be a nice slot corner. He hid behind Devin Singletary at FAU, but the Bears thought enough of White to pair him with Montgomery at RB in their draft class.

USA Today’s Doug Farrar - A-

Left without a pick until the third round — they gave up their first-round selection in the Khalil Mack trade with Oakland and their second-rounder to move up and take wide receiver Anthony Miller — the Bears still picked up great value when they finally had their name on the board. With the 73rd overall pick, they found their Jordan Howard replacement in Iowa State’s David Montgomery, a back with great power, elusiveness and versatility. Montgomery isn’t a downfield speed guy, but he has every other attribute, and he’ll be a key cog in Matt Nagy’s offense.

Picking up Georgia receiver Riley Ridley with the 126th overall pick in the fourth round was an even better value; I had Ridley as my 46th overall player. Ridley is a nuanced player who can get open against man coverage and make things easier for Mitchell Trubisky. When you have few picks, you need to extract maximum value, and the Bears did that.

Yahoo Sports’ Eric Edholm - A-

Best pick: Montgomery

As much as we loved the Ridley value late in Round 4, it’s hard not to choose the one clear impact addition in Year 1. Montgomery is the type of shifty back who thrives in Matt Nagy’s offense, an excellent facsimile of Kareem Hunt. The Bears kicked around the idea of signing the troubled Hunt and sitting him during a suspension for the potential long-term gain. But instead they trade up for Montgomery, who has exceptional character – a literal Eagle Scout who will be a pillar in the community – and will be a standout in their diverse system. GM Ryan Pace saw his man and once again traded up aggressively to land him. The Bears are confident in their scouting to make such a move, and they’re gearing up for another playoff run with this addition.

Worst pick: Shelley

The Bears like him as a nickel corner, and that’s frankly the only spot we think he can play at a wispy 178 pounds. He’s just not built for the rigors of the NFC North and will have a hard time dealing with the bigger receiver you see populating the interior at times these days (he’s not going to be able to cover, say, Adam Thielen inside). Using the 206th pick in the draft on a player who might not stick isn’t going to get us to suddenly hate what the Bears did. We just think they could have done a little better.

Overall: The team’s first two selections, Khalil Mack and Anthony Miller, helped turn the Bears into a playoff team after four straight seasons of 10 or more losses. Those already were home runs. Now the Montgomery pick – along with stealing Ridley – makes this an offense with depth at the skill spots, save for tight end. The Bears might also regret not selecting an offensive lineman, but they picked up two interesting Notre Dame blockers in Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars who have allies in OL coach Harry Hiestand (their former position coach with the Irish). And overall, even while being shorthanded on picks again next draft, there’s just too much to like about how they have used their assets.

Sports Illustrated’s Andy Benoit - B-

Last year Chicago’s early selections were spent on various roster-building pieces, which has worked out well considering this team won the NFC North and entered the offseason with no major needs. David Montgomery was a great value, even considering that the Bears traded up to get him—a team can afford to do when it has no major needs. Montgomery is a tenacious Marshawn Lynch-style runner who can provide sustainability on early downs, keeping Tarik Cohen in a hybrid flex weapon role. We don’t know if Montgomery can be as potent an all-around zone runner as predecessor Jordan Howard (who was dealt to Philadelphia for a conditional fifth/sixth-rounder in 2020), but he’s fresher than Howard and, more importantly, will be cheaper over the next few years.

At receiver, there’s no clear role available for Riley Ridley in 2019. Allen Robinson is a solid starter, last year’s second-round pick Anthony Miller is expected to ascend, and Taylor Gabriel and newly acquired Cordarrelle Patterson are vying for the gadget and vertical designer opportunities that are showcased in Matt Nagy’s offense.

It wasn’t all above average grades for the Bears however...

SB Nation‘s Dan Kadar - C

This offseason, the Bears got rid of Jordan Howard and replaced him with a similar player stylistically in David Montgomery at No. 73. This is a classic mid-round running back who can generate a ton of yards. Montgomery specializes in powering through tacklers.

The Bears had to get a wide receiver, and got a good one in Riley Ridley at No. 126. He’s an expert route runner who gets open with quickness. He’s pretty similar to 2018 pick Anthony Miller. Seventh-round pick Stephen Denmark was worth a flier because of his pure size and potential.

Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer - C-

The Bears knew they would be handcuffed after the Khalil Mack trade, so Sporting News Executive of the Year Ryan Pace did the best he could with what little he had. Montgomery and Ridley were good value picks and can contribute to the offense, but their selections ensured the class would be short on needed defensive pop.


What grade do you give the 2019 Draft class of the Chicago Bears?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    (183 votes)
  • 16%
    (542 votes)
  • 22%
    (722 votes)
  • 29%
    (953 votes)
  • 17%
    (589 votes)
  • 3%
    (129 votes)
  • 1%
    (60 votes)
  • 1%
    (34 votes)
  • 0%
    (22 votes)
  • 1%
    I just came over to WCG to be a troll and vote D or F.
    (42 votes)
3276 votes total Vote Now