These targets must satisfy a specific criteria: have the requisite talent to - at the very least - be a contributing starter, fit newly-hired offensive coordinator Luke Getsy’s scheme, fit a need, and be projected to go around pick 39 at earliest.
As for Getsy’s scheme, it will ostensibly include a heavy dose of both the wide zone and power running game as well as the play-action pass.
Fortunately, there are many targets that appear to be a great fit in this offense, but a few stand out above the rest. Without further ado, let’s dive in.
1. Christian Watson, North Dakota State University
In a tight battle for #1 comes North Dakota State wide receiver Christian Watson. Somehow, he is still mocked as a mid-second round pick, and frankly-speaking, should he fall to pick 39, it would be criminal not to take him.
Simply put, Watson is a superstar. He has phenomenal size but still exceptional movement and athleticism, which will allow him to be lethal with run-after-catch yardage. With Getsy’s passing concepts likely including 8-10 “freebies” each game (think the bootleg to the flat), it is imperative that the Bears have a guy who can consistently turn a 6-yard gain into a 15- or 20-yard gain. Watson undoubtedly has that capability.
But even more enticing is his versatility. Watson has that rare ability to be a threat from the backfield as well as on the perimeter, something that is truly terrifying for a defense. In the Bears’ new offense, he would likely be used similar to Deebo Samuel to create mismatches and gain more information for Justin Fields pre-snap through motions to and from the backfield.
The fit is almost seamless, and when you pair that with his filling a crucial need, he edges ahead of everybody else for #1.
2. Bernhard Raimann, Central Michigan University
A very close second to Watson is Central Michigan left tackle Bernhard Raimann. Similar to Watson, Raimann has phenomenal size but still moves exceptionally well, something that would be a game-changer for Getsy’s running game.
The wide zone running scheme has principles centered around misdirection and window dressing, and the only way to fulfill both of those is through versatility. For linemen, that versatility comes through movement. Raimann is more than capable of excelling when pulling for outside and inside zone runs or blocking down for toss cutbacks and misdirection play-action passes. At the same time, he can still go one-on-one against both power and speed rushers in 3rd-and-long situations and keep Fields clean.
I understand that Teven Jenkins is currently slated to be the left tackle heading into 2022, but if you have a chance to get Raimann, you do it. Shift Jenkins to right tackle if you have to (it’s his natural position anyway). It will serve you the best in the long haul.
3. George Pickens, University of Georgia
After the top two, there is somewhat of a drop-off with Georgia wide receiver George Pickens. Don’t get me wrong. He certainly has a chance to be a star, but it’s more of a projection than with the first two guys.
He has all the athletic tools to be great, as his speed, acceleration, and size are all phenomenal. Play strength appears to be an issue, but that doesn’t matter all that much in a misdirection-filled scheme. You can use formations to eliminate teams from playing him in press or bump and run coverage, so that doesn’t concern me in this scheme.
The aspect that is really exciting is Pickens’ route running. No, he isn’t the most explosive out of cuts, but he is as intricate and precise as they come. In a scheme based on timing such as Getsy’s, this is absolutely critical. The quarterback needs to have that trust in a receiver to consistently be in the same spot according to their drop and hitches, and - despite my doubts that he will reach his ceiling - I don’t doubt that Pickens will be able to do this. That in and of itself will make him a terrific fit in this offense.
4. Daniel Faalele, University of Minnesota
The first thing that jumps off of the screen with Minnesota left tackle Daniel Faalele is his size. At 6’8”, 379 lbs., he is as physically-imposing as they come and possesses phenomenal power as well.
The big concern, however, is with his movement. Now, I know what you’re thinking. If Getsy’s offense requires mobility at tackle, why even take a chance with Faalele? Well, the answer lies in the operative phrase “from the tackle positions”.
If I were a member of the Bears coaching staff, I would shift Faalele to the interior (ideally guard), where he can focus on straight-line explosion and utilize his raw power to clear the A and B gaps. At guard, he would not have to move much in the zone running scheme, and he would greatly benefit the Bears’ power running game.
5. Skyy Moore, Western Michigan University
Rounding out the top five is Western Michigan wide receiver Skyy Moore. Though he certainly isn’t a star talent, Moore looks to be a valuable piece that can excel as a long-term #3, which - looking at the Bears’ current roster - would pay massive dividends.
He has phenomenal elusiveness off the line of scrimmage and exceptional twitchiness, but my big issue is that he doesn’t hit an extra gear when he stems from his route. Getsy, however, should be able to work around that.
Think of Moore’s role similar to Randall Cobb’s role with the Packers for all those years: a weapon that can make plays with the ball in his hands, work the underneath areas of the field, and occasionally break loose downfield for a deep ball touchdown. If the Bears can finally get their running game going, that role could be one of immense value in a play-action heavy offense that will ostensibly take shots down the field.