REACTION: Chicago Bears at the 2016 NFL Draft

Leonard Floyd cs lf
Chicago Bears select: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia.

The 2016 NFL Draft has now been completed, and now we assume that the NFL Draft will leave Chicago. Chicago has had the NFL Draft in both 2015 and 2016, but now the league is starting to look elsewhere for 2017: maybe somewhere in California, Ohio, or Pennsylvania? In this post, I go over the Chicago Bears’ selections at the 2016 NFL Draft, and give them grades based on how I value the players’ fit, potential, and need.

NFL DRAFT 2016 – DAY 1 – ROUND 1

  • Chicago Bears Selection: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia (9th Overall Pick).
  • Day 1 Grade: B+
  • Trade Notes: Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded their first round pick (9th overall) in exchange for Chicago’s first and fourth round picks (11th and 106th overall).

The Chicago Bears had already upgraded their defense through free agency, but there were some places that we needed to fill. I really wanted an edge rusher, a 3-4 DE, and some cornerbacks and safeties, but I knew we were probably also going to get a new backup running back and a quarterback through the draft. So, did we fill a need with Leonard Floyd?

Yeah, we definitely did. Now, I ended up making ten mock drafts in preparation for the first round, and in my final one (which was published on this blog), I ended up making a bold prediction: that DeForest Buckner would fall out of the top five, and maybe into my Chicago Bears’ hands.

Buckner only fell to the 49ers (7th overall) though, so I went back and looked at my mock drafts. I had Vernon Hargreaves and Jarran Reed in one mock draft each, Shaq Lawson in two of the ten mock drafts, Ezekiel Elliott in two other mock drafts, but three of the ten mock drafts saw the Chicago Bears going with Georgia OLB Leonard Floyd.

Ezekiel Elliott had already been picked by the Dallas Cowboys, so I assumed the Bears were probably just going to stay at 11th overall, and grab either Lawson or Floyd, as I thought at least one of them would be available. Then we traded up. We swapped picks with Tampa Bay, but also lost one of our 4th round picks. I assumed this meant we really wanted Hargreaves.

Instead, it seems that we traded up in front of the Giants because we knew they were ecstatic about Floyd. I had the Giants go with Leonard Floyd or Jack Conklin in most of my mock drafts, and both of those guys were now picked right in front of them here. Tough luck, New York.

Leonard Floyd has a lot of potential, but some Bears fans aren’t comfortable with the idea that Floyd is an undersized edge rusher, and therefore a project. Shaq Lawson would’ve been a safe pick, but Floyd can be something really special if it works out for us. I trust Vic Fangio, and I really, really like Leonard Floyd, but I totally get why other Bears fans would be worried after the Shea McClellin-fiasco.

NFL DRAFT 2016 – DAY 2 – ROUNDS 2 & 3

  • Chicago Bears Selections: Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State (2nd Rnd); Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida (3rd Rnd).
  • Day 2 Grade: A+
  • Trade Notes: Two trades. The Bears traded their second round pick (41st overall) to the Bills in exchange for Buffalo’s second and fourth round picks in 2016 (49th and 117th overall), as well as a Bills 4th round pick in 2017. Then the Bears traded their new second round pick (49th overall) to the Seahawks in exchange for Seattle’s second and fourth round picks (56th and 124th overall).

When the second round opened I had written a list of the players I wanted to keep on eye on during the second round:

  • Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA
  • Jaylon Smith, OLB, Notre Dame
  • Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
  • Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
  • Cody Whitehair, OG, Kansas State
  • A’Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
  • Hunter Henry, TE, Arkansas
  • Mackensie Alexander, DB, Clemson
  • T. J. Green, DB, Clemson
  • Vonn Bell, DB, Ohio State
  • Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois

Those were some of my favorite players going into the second round, and I just wanted one of those players to go to Chicago. One of the things that upset a lot of Bears fans was that we had lost a fourth round pick in the trade to move up to get Leonard Floyd, and Bears GM Ryan Pace knew what he had to do to set his team up for success. Apparently, the Bears were really interested in Hunter Henry, but when he was unavailable during their second round pick, they just decided to trade back a few times and get more draft picks (we scored two new 4th Round picks for 2016, and one 4th rounder for 2017 – thanks Buffalo and Seattle!).

I really wanted either Jarran Reed or Chris Jones, but I was fine with moving back if we still got one of the guys listed above. When we finally did pick in the second round, we got one of the best players available. Cody Whitehair isn’t the guy that you’ve heard about for weeks, but he is a great pick, and would even have been a great pick late in the first round. He should compete for Slauson’s guard position, and might force Slauson to test a permanent stay at the center position. Great pick and a couple of great trades in the second round!

Now, in the third round we desperately needed to fill a need. Whitehair didn’t really fill a need, but was a great pick for us nonetheless. We had a lot of picks in the fourth round now, and we didn’t need to move. I wanted us to go for either a 3-4 DE or a safety, but decided that I wanted one of the following players in the third round:

  • Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford
  • Darian Thompson, DB, Boise State
  • Miles Killebrew, DB, Southern Utah
  • Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida

I was so happy when we ended up picking Bullard, who could have easily been taken in the second round. I was worried that we were going to reach for a quarterback in the early third round, when there were other needs to fill. But GM Ryan Pace did a great job on day two. After the first 3 rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears had essentially picked two first round-talents (Floyd in the 1st Rnd; Whitehair in the 2nd Rnd) and one second round-talent (Bullard in the 3rd Rnd).

NFL DRAFT 2016 – DAY 3 – ROUNDS 4-7

  • Chicago Bears Selections: Nick Kwiatkoski, LB, West Virginia (4th Rnd); Deon Bush, S, Miami (4th Rnd); Deiondre’ Hall, CB, Northern Iowa (4th Rnd); Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana (5th Rnd); DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, William & Mary (6th Rnd); Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan (7th Rnd).
  • Day 3 Grade: A-
  • Trade Notes: The Bears traded a fourth round pick and a sixth round pick (117th and 206th overall) to the Rams in exchange for a Rams fourth round pick (113th overall).

We had already taken three really great players, but there was still a lot of needs to fill through the draft. Now, I suspected that we’d probably go for a running back and a quarterback in the draft, and we probably also needed a new tight end to replace Martellus Bennett. Still though, I really still believed that we had to add some safeties and cornerbacks. Therefore I noted the following tight ends, running backs, quarterbacks, and defensive backs that I would like us to consider at some point during day 3:

  • Jerell Adams, TE, South Carolina
  • Thomas Duarte, TE, UCLA
  • Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisana Tech
  • Paul Perkins, RB, UCLA
  • Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State
  • Dak Prescott, QB, Mississippi State
  • Miles Killebrew, DB, Southern Utah

This time around, though, none of the players that I had singled out were drafted by my Chicago Bears. Our team really added to that sense of competition that is going on in our secondary. Deon Bush, Deiondre’ Hall, and DeAndre Houston-Carson should all give guys like Bryce Callahan, Demontre Hurst, and Chris Prosinski a run for their money. And, if nothing else, the three defensive back players that we picked up in the draft should compete for a job in our special teams unit.

A guy like Nick Kwiatkoski adds to our linebacker depth, a position that the Bears have to improve (and probably has with guys like Freeman and Trevathan in free agency). He’ll probably be more of a special teamer in the short run, though.

The Bears didn’t pick a QB in the draft (but they did sign veteran Brian Hoyer right after the draft had ended), but they did sign a running back and a slot receiver. Jordan Howard, the running back we picked up in the draft, has been compared to Arian Foster, and should compete for the top job with Jeremy Langford. The running back position is going to be a sore subject for the Bears this season if neither Howard nor Langford work though, as most of us Bears fans really miss Matt Forte.

Daniel Braverman, who has been compared to Danny Amendola, was the last player we picked in the draft, and he has already been labeled as a ‘steal’ for the Bears in round 7. I love this pick, as he should give Eddie Royal a run for his money. The Bears wide-receiving corps should already improve this season as Kevin White (the Bears’ first round pick from the 2015 NFL Draft) will finally get his Bears debut, and as Alshon Jeffery has been franchise tagged, but Braverman should line up as a slot receiver. Jay Cutler should be very happy with this pick!

– I’m Jeffrey Rex