NFL draft Twitter mailbag: What could the Bears haul in if they trade back?

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Bears general manager Ryan Pace is entering his fourth draft. (AP)

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Sun-Times’ Patrick Finley is answering your best Bears questions on draft day:

The question isn’t offense or defense — it’s Quenton Nelson or defense. Short of an astounding fall from Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, the Notre Dame guard is the only offensive player the Bears will consider with the No. 8 overall pick. If Nelson’s there, I’d draft him — he’ll protect Mitch Trubisky for the next decade. If he’s not, that’s where it gets interesting. Assuming they can’t jump up and get N.C. State’s Bradley Chubb, the Bears will choose between two inside linebackers (Georgia’s Roquan Smith and Virginia Tech’s Tremaine Edmunds) and two defensive backs (Ohio State’s Denzel Ward and Alabama’s Minkah Fizpatrick). Florida State safety Derwin James said the Bears haven’t reached out — but they’ve been stealthy in the past.

That’s a great question. The Bears don’t have a third-round pick this year after trading it away as part of the Mitch Trubisky deal. GM Ryan Pace said he’d like to get a third-round pick back, in a perfect world. In the last two years, he’s traded down in the second round to collect more assets, and he could certainly do it this time around.

A glimpse at the old Jimmy Johnson trade chart — which assigns point values to each selection, for the purposes of trades — offers, to me, a pretty intriguing trade partner. It’s the same one to whom Pace traded all those picks for Trubisky. The 49ers traded their own second-round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo (small price to pay!) but have the Saints’ second-round pick, No. 59 overall. They have two third-round selections: No. 70 via the Bears, and No. 74.

If they wanted to jump up 20 spots in the second round, the 49ers could offer Picks 59 and 74 to the Bears for No. 39 and their sixth-round pick, No. 181. The Jimmy Johnson points line up: the Bears would be giving up 529 points and getting 530 back.

Who could the Bears target late in Round 2? Stanford defensive lineman Harrison Phillips could make sense. If they don’t land an edge rusher in Round 1, maybe they take a risk — and it’s a big risk — on LSU’s Arden Key, who has off-the-field question marks but first-round talent. In search of a receiver, they could turn to someone like Memphis’ Anthony Miller or Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown. If they don’t take Quenton Nelson in the first round, a guard or center would be in play here, too.

I question your premise. It’d be quite the scenario if the Dolphins felt they had to trade up to No. 8 to draft the quarterback many have ranked as the fifth-best in the draft. Regardless of who Miami coveted, though, here’s what would make sense using the aforementioned draft chart: the Dolphins would give up their third-round pick, No. 73 overall, and hope the Bears kick back their sixth-rounder, No. 181, in a swap of first-rounders. If the Bears thought a player they liked would be available at 11 — and in your scenario, with five quarterbacks gone, that would certainly be the case — they’d have to think about it.

The Bears will undoubtedly consider Denzel Ward, a player they like. Pace traveled to the Cotton Bowl to watch him play, only for the cornerback to skip the game to preserve his health.

If the Bears were to trade back, I doubt they’d want to fall all the way down to 18. The prospect tier cuts off somewhere in the early 20s, depending on how many quarterbacks are taken, making a late first-rounder no different than a second — except for the higher paycheck. I don’t know that Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander has the physical frame that Vic Fangio loves in his cornerbacks, but I agree that Courtland Sutton, the SMU receiver, makes sense for a team looking for dynamism outside.

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