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Chicago Bears Draft: Top Five running back fits for Matt Nagy’s offense

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The NFL draft is a little over two weeks away and so far, the Bears have met with 15 different running backs. With the departure of Jordan Howard, it’s clear they will be draft a running back. It’s just a matter of who and when.

TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - North Carolina State v Texas A&M Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The NFL draft is closing in on single-digit days away and the Chicago Bears will one of few teams that will head into draft weekend without a first or second round pick and more importantly, without any pressing needs.

One of the positions where they will absolutely look to add will be at running back. Despite not picking until the 87th overall selection, it’s plausible to expect the Bears to land a runner that can add a new element to the team’s new committee backfield. For the Bears, they won’t need that do-it-all generational talent or even that high round talent that could displace newcomer Mike Davis as the “starter.”

This is a team that will simply be looking at a better fit and someone that they can mold into a player that can catch out of the backfield and create bigger runs when called upon. With that in mind, I’m not going to include Josh Jacobs or Darrell Henderson in this list because I don’t see them as realistic targets due to where they’ll be drafted (late first to early second round).

1. Miles Sanders (Penn State)

VRBO Citrus Bowl - Kentucky v Penn State Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Let me first start off by saying if the Bears want Sanders, they are going to need to trade up for him. As I addressed in last week’s mailbag, I do think it’s a possibility that the team could end up using a 2020 second rounder to move up and land their top target. Maybe that’s Sanders. They have already met with him twice, including using one of their 30 private visits, late last month.

Sanders is a well-rounded back that can catch, pass block and successfully run in multiple different blocking schemes, whether that’s zone or power.

He’s also a one-year starter with minimal wear and tear, which bodes well if a team like the Bears decided to use him more as a full-time back later down the line. Sanders isn’t going to blow you away with speed and does have a tendency to dance too much in the backfield, but in terms of fit and skill set, he should be the Bears top choice.

Projected Round: Mid Second/Early Third Round

2. Trayveon Williams (Texas A&M)

UAB v Texas A&M Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images

Another thing about my list that must be noted; these are not my overall player rankings. These are simply players I see that are the “best” fits in Nagy’s offense.

With Williams, you’re getting a smaller back that may not be built as your prototypical three-down back, but has the ability to do everything you’d need and more. Williams is smaller and doesn’t show great lateral movement, but it’s his overall skill set and draft grade that makes him such an ideal fit.

He has home run ability once he gets to the second level. While some may watch him and not believe he’s overly fast, he’s a long strider that can make enough players miss and find the end zone consistently. Williams is also versatile when it comes to running outside or inside zone and has very good vision to be successful running between the tackles, regardless of blocking scheme.

Williams also has very good hands out of the backfield. He’s a pure hands catcher, despite showing a limited route tree in college. Most importantly, he’s an underrated pass blocker.

When you combine all of these things together, you have yourself an ideal fit. The Bears have also met with Williams three separate times already, including a top 30 visit.

Projected Round: Late Third/Fourth Round

3. Damien Harris (Alabama)

College Football Playoff National Championship Presented By AT&T - Alabama v Clemson Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

If there’s one thing we know about Alabama running backs, it’s that they are usually well-rounded and pro-ready. How high their ceiling is, is another question.

With Williams, I see a well-rounded back that can catch, run between the tackles and do enough to get by in the pass blocking department. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but he’s above-average in almost every category that truly matters. In terms of vision, he doesn’t have the elite vision that Jacobs does but again, he has more than enough ability in that department to be a successful NFL runner.

Williams is not afraid of contact and does possess an encouraging second gear once he gets into the open field. He’s not exactly an explosive player but again, has more than enough to get by and be a good compliment to Davis and Tarik Cohen.

Projected Round: Third Round

4. Justice Hill (Oklahoma State)

Oklahoma State v Kansas Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

Hill is yet another runner that comes from the same mold as a Henderson or Trayveon Williams type of back.

Hill is a bit on the smaller side (5’10, 198 pounds) and does look small on film at times, but he also has that explosive ability that could attract the Bears in a committee-type role. His (4.4) 40-time was not only impressive, but matched what I saw on film.

My bigger concern with Hill is his thin build. Against a guy like Williams, he may be taller and similar in overall measurables, but Williams seems to be the thicker and more well-built back to me.

Even so, Hill is someone that should be there in the fourth round and also someone that fits the profile of what Nagy described back at the combine. If the Bears see an opportunity to grab talent at another position with their first pick, Hill could make a lot of sense in the fourth round.

Projected Round: Fourth Round

5. David Montgomery (Iowa State)

Iowa State v Texas Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The more I dive into the draft process, the more I realize that I am higher on Montgomery than most.

Yes, it’s true that he didn’t have a ton of explosive plays in college and no he does not possess that breakaway speed that many Bears fans missed when transitioning from Matt Forte to Howard. Even so, he’s a damn good runner and offers everything that Nagy would need in this offense.

When I watch Montgomery, I see a lot of Kareem Hunt. I see a player that isn’t overly elite at much of anything but is very well-rounded and has the ability to make defenders miss whether it’s with his feet or simply breaking tackles.

It’s possible that the Bears will want a more explosive player and I would understand if that were the case, but don’t discount Montgomery’s fit in this offense.

Projected Round: Late Second/Mid Third Round

Potential Sleepers:

  • Rodney Anderson (Oklahoma)

Anderson’s biggest issue at Oklahoma was purely health related. Obviously that will be a sizable gamble for any team to make, but in terms of true talent and ability, Anderson is the best running back in this draft.

  • Bruce Anderson (North Dakota State)

The other Anderson is someone that many people will sleep on due to competition level. Bruce isn’t someone who is going to blow your mind with his testing numbers, but he has a lot of Matt Forte to his game and someone that could make a lot of sense in the fourth-to-fifth round if they choose to wait that long.

  • Bryce Love (Stanford)

Much like Rodney Anderson, Love is purely a gamble due to his health history over the past few seasons at Stanford. When healthy, Love is a weapon that would make any NFL team happy. I’m not sure many teams will give him a draftable grade, but if he’s there in the late rounds, he’s well worth the flier.