The Chicago Bears needed to hit some homeruns during the 2017 NFL Draft, but instead watched a bold move on Day 1 limit their ability to add impact talent later in the draft.
When the 2017 NFL Draft was over, the Chicago Bears had done little more than underwhelm. Not only did they give up a king’s ransom to move up one spot, but they failed to address some significant needs with the few picks they ended up keeping.
Overall, it was a lackluster showing by Ryan Pace and Co. I expected big things from the Bears, especially after they put together one of the best draft classes of 2016. The same decision-making abilities clearly weren’t present in the war room when the big day rolled around this year, though.
In hopes of putting their 2017 draft haul in perspective, I’ve decided to rank the Bears’ selections from worst to first. I’m sure some folks won’t like where I placed some of the team’s incoming rookies, but I’m not here to please the masses. Instead, I’m here to provide commentary on a Chicago draft class that could end up costing Pace his job.
You may think that was a dramatic statement, but this class will absolutely make or break this franchise and Pace’s future as the general manager.
With that in mind, here are the Bears’ five picks during the 2017 NFL Draft ranked from worst to first. It was a disappointing effort from a franchise in flux, but that doesn’t mean something good couldn’t come out of this. It just looks bad right now.
We all knew the Bears needed to address the offensive tackle position during the 2017 NFL Draft. They had a few opportunities to do so during the first four rounds of the draft. Instead, they waited until the fifth round to select a raw, developmental talent.
Don’t get me wrong — there’s plenty of upside with Jordan Morgan. He was a quick riser during the pre-draft process, earning significant praise for his athleticism and toughness at the point of attack. However, his technique and footwork still need significant refinement. Then there’s the whole issue of making the adjustment from Division II to the NFL.
Chances are it’ll be some time before Morgan is ready to see significant snaps. That’s a problem considering the Bears needed help at offensive tackle now. Starters Charles Leno and Bobby Massie are coming off underwhelming 2016 campaigns, and need a push during training camp. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced the Kutztown product can provide it.
First, Chicago failed to find immediate help at offensive tackle. Second, they added a project who may never develop into anything more than a decent backup. Then again, it’s not like they necessarily had the assets to draft a worthy talent after their Day-1 debacle.
The Bears traded away three picks to move up one spot. After they had done so, they used that pick to make one of the most unexpected selections of the first round. Unfortunately, it was the bad type of unexpected move and now Chicago is taking heat for it.
I have two real problems with the selection of Mitchell Trubisky at No. 2 overall. Before I divulge them, though, I want to make it clear that I like him as a quarterback prospect. I was in the camp that had him as the 2017 draft class’ top gunslinger. While the second pick still seemed a tad early, it wasn’t the worst move from a talent standpoint.
The first problem I have is the amount of ammunition the Bears gave up to get him. It’s not like this Chicago team was a decent quarterback away from contending. That type of move would have made sense for the Houston Texans. The Bears needed those assets to continue upgrading this roster, but parted with them for a player who may not play much in the next two or three years.
The second problem I have is the message it sends to Mike Glennon. Chicago signed him this offseason to be their offensive leader. Now he comes into camp with a top pick nipping at his heels. I’m all for creating competition, but this isn’t the vote of confidence Glennon needs to earn that $16 million in 2017.
The Bears went into the 2017 NFL Draft with a desperate need for secondary help. While I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them go cornerback, drafting safety Eddie Jackson was a respectable move for Chicago.
Prior to the 2016 campaign, Jackson was seen as a potential first-round pick. Then, a broken leg late in the season put a real damper on his draft stock. That’s why he fell all the way to the fourth round, and right into the Bears’ laps. In the end, it could turn out to be somewhat of a steal for this Chicago franchise.
However, the move also came with some risk. Jackson is still recovering from injury, and may not be up to speed when the regular season gets under way. On top of that, his film shows a player who has the potential to bust. He spent his entire college career playing behind an elite defensive front, often allowing him easy opportunities for interceptions. Jackson’s tackling could also use some work, as he too often settles for arm tackles.
Overall, Jackson provides excellent versatility and playmaking skills in coverage. He can play safety or cornerback, and can even pitch in as a return man with exciting elusiveness. The talent is there for him to develop into a starter, but the jury is still out now that he can’t lean on Alabama’s dominant defense to make his life easier.
Drafting a tight end out of Ashland in the second round doesn’t exactly seem like an admirable move. However, in this case, it’s definitely an intriguing addition for a Bears team that could use some more quality options at the position.
Heading into the draft, it seemed safe to assume the Bears would add a tight end. Zach Miller is currently the starter, but can’t seem to stay healthy as age becomes a factor. The backup is Dion Sims, who is an underwhelming talent coming off what will likely be the best season of his career. The rest of the depth chart is made up of youngsters with limited upside.
Shaheen, however, is another story. The small-school product is oozing with potential, sporting a massive frame and impressive athleticism to go along with it. While his blocking needs some work, the former Eagle has the physical tools to be a dominant presence in the passing game. Glennon/Trubisky could certainly use a talent like that to throw to this season.
It’s a risky move considering the adjustment he’ll have to make to the size and speed of the NFL. Still, it appears he’s got the makings of a standout tight end with a very high ceiling. We’ll see how he progresses as a rookie, but this actually looks like a solid get for a Chicago team that desperately needs these picks to pan out.
It’s a bit shocking when a team’s best pick was a small-school running back selected in the fourth round. However, that’s the case when it comes to the Bears’ 2017 draft class.
I mean, I liked the selection of Shaheen but he’s still a risky pick at No. 45 overall. Jackson also offers a good amount of upside, but may never develop into anything more than a utility defensive back with some return game chops. As for Cohen, he’s got the skills to be a legitimate contributor in the running game.
Now before you mention how Jordan Howard is the starter, I must assure you that I’m aware of his presence. I’m also aware that the Bears currently have three other serviceable backups on the roster in Jeremy Langford, Ka’Deem Carey and Benny Cunningham. In terms of upside, though, Cohen may be the best of the bunch — at least in regards to the backups.
Despite his diminutive size (5-6, 179 pounds), Cohen is a dynamic talent with the ball in his hands. He’s an offensive sparkplug, using his absurd athleticism and elusiveness to pick up big chunks of yards. The kid is so deadly in the open field, he earned the nickname “The Human Joystick” during his time at North Carolina A&T.
Mix in his skills as a receiver and returner, and you’ve got the second coming of Darren Sproles. His size will be a concern as the Bears attempt to develop him, but I believe he can get the job done. Before the 2017 season is over, he will be stealing touches from Howard.