By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63
The list of possibilities are endless and the Chicago Bears need to make all their 2018 NFL Draft picks count. But will General Manager Ryan Pace go rogue like he did last year by trading up one spot for their franchise quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky? I wouldn’t put it past him. He was very adamant about getting the best player off the board to fill their needs. The question is, what need will the Bears focus on? Will they go offense with a wide receiver or guard? Or defense with an outside linebacker or cornerback?
Now that the 2018 NFL Combine has painted a picture of what options are available, the Bears have a few choices to make in free agency and the draft. Let’s take a look at free agency first.
The Bears need a big-bodied wide receiver to mirror WR Cameron Meredith and give Trubisky an explosive target. It just so happens that both WR Allen Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Sammy Watkins of the Los Angeles Rams have become free agents. Fans and some media experts feel that the Bears should trade a few picks to get Jarvis Landry from the Miami Dolphins. However, with so many holes in other key positions, the Bears can get a great deal acquiring Robinson who would be the better fit for Trubisky than Watkins. Robinson’s 6-foot, 3-inch frame will be a great asset on day one.
On the defensive side of free agency, there are some limitations. Pace could spend some hard cash and sign DE Sheldon Richardson from the Seattle Seahawks who can play both in a 4-3 and 3-4 system, which is what defensive coordinator Vic Fangio likes to do. Or Pace can go for a less expensive route by signing OLB Nigel Bradham from the Philadelphia Eagles who is also a veteran player with some edge.
Moving on to the NFL Draft the Bears could go wide receiver with the eighth pick but here is where I suspect Pace will go rogue. The Bears met with several of the high profile draft prospects at the wide receiver position; Calvin Ridley, Deon Cain and Courtland Sutton. They even met with quarterback Lamar Jackson and cornerback favorite Denzel Ward. But not once did anyone see them meet with a defensive edge player or outside linebacker, which the Bears need. Especially since releasing Pernell McPhee, Jerrell Freeman, and Willie Young.
The Bears are going to be aggressive this year in free agency and the draft. It would not be surprising that Pace could trade up, a repeat of last year, to get a top Urlacher-type linebacker, like Tremaine Edmunds of Virginia Tech or shock everyone and move up even higher for defensive end Bradley Chubb of N.C.State.
However, Pace may want to take a cornerback to mirror the recently transition tagged Kyle Fuller in the backfield, with Ward being the favorite and the perfect fit for that position.
It could get even dicier if Pace trades a few picks, a fourth-round pick and a player for another slot in the first-round. This way they use the first pick for a defensive player and then the other pick for an offensive guard or tackle, leaving the 2nd round pick for a receiver. It is all speculation of course, but what moxie that would be on Pace’s part!
It’s do or die for the young general manager and he needs to be aggressive, urgent and methodical in his wheeling and dealing capabilities to make the Bears relevant this season. If Pace can pull it off, Jordan Howard’s prediction that the Chicago Bears will make the playoffs may just come true.
Talk Bears Football with Wanda on Twitter @WandaW63