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Draft Q&A: Should the Bears draft a receiver in Round 2?

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What positions should the Bears target in the draft? Would a cancelled 2020 CFB season convince the Bears to trade future draft capital? All that and more answered in this draft Q&A.

NCAA Football: Arkansas-Pine Bluff at Texas Christian Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 NFL draft is just over two weeks away, and discussions are heating up about which players the Bears will target this year.

With two second-round picks and some potential to move down and acquire more picks, a lot remains to be seen regarding what Chicago plans on doing in the draft, but their moves in free agency give us as fans a slight sense of direction towards a general idea of how they might attack the draft.

As we draw closer to the three-day extravaganza that give us something to help fill that sports-related void in our hearts, I called out for any questions that you guys might have about this year’s draft and what the Bears should or should not do. Here are my answers to some of those questions:

The Bears addressed two of their biggest needs in free agency in tight end and quarterback, and while Jimmy Graham and Nick Foles probably aren’t long-term answers at their respective positions, those additions make it less likely they’ll use a second-round pick at either position.

As of now, I view the three biggest needs as offensive guard, cornerback and safety. Finding depth at edge rusher and inside linebacker should also be a goal the Bears have in this draft, and I do expect them to draft a wide receiver, as well. There’s a chance they could pick a tight end on Day 3 as a long-term developmental piece, and I could see them using a late-round pick on a backup quarterback if the value’s right. However, I don’t think those two positions will be priorities this year.

To be brief, this year’s wide receiver class is absolutely stacked.

That shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise, and it shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise if the Bears draft a wide receiver this year. The consensus is that they’ll target a speedier receiver to replicate the role Taylor Gabriel had last year. As far as potential Round 2 prospects go, Jalen Reagor and K.J. Hamler are among the fastest wideouts in this class. Hamler’s lack of size and Reagor’s underwhelming Combine could realistically drop either of them to 43 or 50. I’d also consider Laviska Shenault Jr. or Brandon Aiyuk, as even though I could see them drop due to medical concerns, they both offer speed off the snap and dangerous YAC ability.

If the Bears trade down into the third round, I would be interested in Bryan Edwards from South Carolina. A victim of poor quarterback play who hasn’t been talked about as much as he should, he combines size (he’s 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds), speed and physicality to stretch the field as a vertical threat and battle with defenders to secure jump-ball grabs. Notre Dame’s Chase Claypool is another physical mismatch I would take a shot on in the third round, though teams may see him more as a tight end.

For Day 3 prospects, I really like Devin Duvernay out of Texas in the fourth round. He’s a dynamic and elusive runner after the catch with the long speed to take the top off the defense. The Bears would have to do some wheeling and dealing to acquire a fourth-round pick, but he’d be fun to watch in their offense. I would also be interested in someone like K.J. Hill out of Ohio State, Darnell Mooney from Tulane or Joe Reed from Virginia in the fifth round or later.

Both receivers are dynamic playmakers who can make defenders miss after the catch and burn defensive backs, but I think Reagor would be a better fit for the Bears. I think he’s a better fit for the vacant ‘Z’ receiver spot than Hamler would be, and I think he offers more physicality in tight-window situations. Granted, taking him over Hamler would require looking past Reagor’s disappointing Combine, but judging solely off of tape, I think Reagor would be the better fit, though I would like the pick either way.

To stem this question off to a related topic, I think the Bears would be smart to consider drafting a wide receiver in the second round, but one would also have to take into consideration the value at more pressing needs, too. While the value along the interior offensive line might not be great if Cesar Ruiz and Lloyd Cushenberry are gone, there will likely be very good prospects available at cornerback and safety, among other positions.

Cornerbacks like A.J. Terrell, Damon Arnette, Jaylon Johnson, Bryce Hall and Noah Igbinoghene could all still be on the board in the second round. A safety like Kyle Dugger, Ashtyn Davis, Antoine Winfield Jr. or Jeremy Chinn—the latter two I’ll discuss in a bit—could also be great value picks. There could even be an outside chance that Grant Delpit could fall into the second round.

The point is, the Bears do need speed at the receiver position, and considering how talented this receiver class is, they could get a prospect with a high ceiling who could give them a dynamic group of weapons. It’s also a deep class, though, and there could be some good value on Day 3 they could consider while focusing on more pressing needs. I’m on board with drafting a Hamler or a Reagor in the second round simply because of the value for that particular niche in Chicago’s offense, but doing so does come with some drawbacks.

I was convinced for roughly a week that the Bears should draft a quarterback in the second round, but besides that time, I have been staunchly against the idea that drafting one with either one of those selections. That belief grew stronger once Nick Foles was acquired.

The consensus is that four quarterbacks will be selected in the first round: Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love. After those four players, there is a massive drop-off. Jacob Eason is all tools and no polish at this point and is arguably a bigger work in progress from an accuracy standpoint than Josh Allen was at Wyoming. Jake Fromm doesn’t have a ceiling much higher than a spot starter in the league. Jalen Hurts is athletic and has improved as a passer, but he’s not nearly a good enough quarterback to warrant using a top-50 pick on.

All three of those players have been mocked to the Bears at some point over the course of this draft process, and some of them are still being mocked to Chicago to this day, which does not make sense. Not only are none of those quarterbacks worth using a second-round pick on—which would imply the organization views them as the quarterback of the future—but none of them would make an immediate impact on the team.

Unless the Bears trade Mitchell Trubisky, that rookie would likely be a third-string quarterback for the entirety of the 2020 season. With Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy likely fighting for their jobs this coming year, I find it highly unlikely they’re going to be willing to using such high draft capital on a player who won’t make an impact until 2021 at the very earliest. The only remotely plausible scenario I can see that happening in would be if Jordan Love dropped in the draft significantly and the Bears traded up to get him, but even that would come with its risks.

Even in a trade-back scenario, I wouldn’t suggest Chicago draft a quarterback until the fifth round at the earliest (which likely takes them out of the running for Anthony Gordon, too. Sorry, guys). They have a handful of immediate needs and lack depth at a couple of positions, and I have a hard time believing they’ll ignore that in favor of drafting a quarterback early, especially considering their choices from Day 2 onward wouldn’t be that great.

There’s a possibility that the 2020 college football season could be cancelled if the rapid rate at which the COVID-19 virus is spreading doesn’t slow down significantly. That uncertainty could certainly make things interesting in this year’s draft, as there are plenty of questions surrounding the 2021 draft, including whether or not it will even happen or if teams will only have year-old tape to go off of for evaluating prospects.

An argument could be made that teams may be willing to give up significant future capital since nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen over the next few months and beyond. An argument could also be made that some teams might pass on this draft and stock up for the future, as the inability to acquire first-hand medical analysis and work out and interview prospects in-person could hurt a team’s ability to get a full reading on a player.

All of that said, though, I don’t expect the Bears to give up their 2021 first-round pick. I wholeheartedly believe they will eventually use that draft pick on a quarterback. If anything, I’d expect them to stock up on future draft capital if they want to be aggressive and trade up for one next year. As it stands now, I don’t see a prospect whom they would be willing to give up that much capital for.

Outside of Eddie Jackson, the safeties the Bears have on their roster are: Deon Bush, Jordan Lucas, DeAndre Houston-Carson and Kentrell Brice. It goes without saying that they could end up targeting a safety in this draft.

There are a handful of enticing safeties the Bears could choose from in the second round, but among them are Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jeremy Chinn. Both players made names for themselves in draft circles in 2019, and they both figure to be selected fairly early in this year’s draft.

For the record, I like both of these prospects and would be perfectly fine with the Bears picking either of them. I do have a higher grade on Winfield, as I feel that he is one of the smartest defensive backs and one of the rangiest ball-hawks in this draft. However, I think that Chinn would be a better fit for what Chicago would want out of a safety alongside Eddie Jackson.

While Chinn played predominantly as a free safety at Southern Illinois, I see him fitting better as a strong safety than Winfield would. I think Chinn is a more versatile defender, as he can play in single-high or two-high shells, as well as in the box. He’s a willing tackler who has fantastic closing speed and delivers a powerful pop when he charges downhill. That can be attributed to his rare combination of size and speed: he’s a massive safety at 6-foot-3 and 221 pounds who ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at the Combine, and that speed shows up on tape. He also finished second among safeties with a 41-inch vertical and placed second in the entire class with an 11-foot-6 broad jump.

Granted, I think Winfield is going to be a fantastic free safety at the next level, and I can see him excelled as a nickelback if teams so wish to play him there. I do think he is a better processor at this stage of his career than Chinn, and I think that Winfield is also more fluid and has more range in coverage. If Chicago wants to go for a safety duo that is lights-out in the coverage at the expense of tackling value—which could very well be a strategy worth considering—then I would personally take Winfield. I would have no issues at all with taking Chinn, though, and I feel like he would be a better fit in their system overall.