Defensive end Akiem Hicks has more guaranteed money attached to his name than anyone else on the Bears’ roster. But that nagging feeling that someone is trying to take his job still hasn’t gone away.
“I hate the draft,” he said this month. “Somebody coming to replace me.”
Here are the winners and losers among Bears veterans after the seven-person draft haul:
WINNER: Jordan Howard.
The Bears promised Howard they wouldn’t trade him, and they didn’t. Running back Saquon Barkley didn’t miraculously fall into their laps in the draft, either. And for the first time since 2013, the Bears didn’t select a running back.
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Oregon State’s Ryan Nall is an intriguing undrafted free-agent signing, but he won’t threaten Howard’s playing time. Coach Matt Nagy figures to lean on Howard just as much as John Fox did.
LOSERS: Nick Kwiatkoski now, Danny Trevathan later?
The Bears drafted Roquan Smith to take Kwiatkoski’s spot in the lineup.
Trevathan has been one of the team’s better players when healthy, but injuries and a one-game suspension have limited him to 20 starts in 32 games.
When the Bears took Joel Iyiegbuniwe in the fourth round, perhaps they were preparing for life without Trevathan and Kwiatkoski, each of whom has two years left on his contract.
General manager Ryan Pace said the drafting of two inside linebackers wasn’t a referendum on Trevathan and Kwiatkoski.
“Just add competition,” he said. “As much of that as we have, the better we’ll be.”
Kwiatkoski will move into a reserve role, fighting John Timu, Jonathan Anderson and Iyiegbuniwe for likely two backup spots. Iyiegbuniwe has an edge. Teams typically don’t cut rookies picked in the fourth round.
WINNER: Adrian Amos. Many mock drafts had the Bears taking the safety’s replacement in the first round, either Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick or Florida State’s Derwin James.
They didn’t draft any defensive backs, showing how much confidence they have in Amos after his breakout 2017 season.
A contract extension seems likely to follow. He’s entering the last year of his rookie deal.
LOSER: Hroniss Grasu. Three years after Ryan Pace drafted the center in the third round, his Bears future is in jeopardy. The selection of Iowa’s James Daniels in the second round seemed to seal his fate.
Daniels will start the season at guard and cross-train to play center behind Cody Whitehair. Eric Kush, who has recovered from a torn hamstring, is another guard who can play center.
Grasu’s only chance to make the team is as its second option at center. Right now, he appears to be its fourth.
WINNER: Bobby Massie. Even with the right tackle entering the final year of his contract, the Bears didn’t draft a developmental project behind him. The Bears’ swing tackle, Bradley Sowell, is 28, the same age as Massie.
LOSER: Kevin White. The 2015 first-round pick wasn’t going to get his fifth-year option for 2019 picked up next month, regardless of how many receivers the Bears drafted.
Now it’s fair to wonder if he fits on the 2018 team. Second-round pick Anthony Miller slots in behind free-agent signees Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel in Nagy’s offense.
That leaves White as the fourth receiver, at best, on a team that will carry five or six. There will be a numbers crunch at the position, with seventh-round pick Javon Wims being given a chance to make the team. Unlike White, Josh Bellamy and Bennie Fowler can play special teams.
White will have to prove himself in training camp.
Unlike last year, the Bears have other options.