Adam L. Jahns: Analyzing the biggest questions about the Bears’ draft class
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Bears general manager Ryan Pace said he “couldn’t be happier with the way the draft unfolded” and critics seem to agree. But how should the Bears feel about the entire draft? Sun-Times Bears beat writer Adam L. Jahns analyzes their selections:
Roquan Smith will …
Have his struggles and make his mistakes, but by end of the season, he’ll be in the conversation for defensive rookie of the year. Those aren’t lofty expectations, either. Vic Fangio’s defense flows through the middle linebackers. He’s not only an upgrade in talent, but in intangibles, too. Expectations for Smith start with him developing into the second-coming of former 49ers All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis.
Be excited about …
The Bears’ win-now mindset. Pace’s rebuilding plan is on to Phase 2 after drafting quarterback Mitch Trubisky last year. He then followed up a successful run in free agency this offseason by selecting guard/center James Daniels and receiver Anthony Miller in the second round. Drafting Smith also improves the Bears’ top-10 defense from last season.
Be concerned about …
Being overly optimistic. The Bears are better. They will be more competitive because of their personnel changes, but also because of coach Matt Nagy’s modern offense. But the NFC North still is one of the NFL’s best divisions. Playing in mediocre divisions aided the rises of the Rams and Eagles last season. The 2019 season truly will be defining for Pace, Nagy and Trubisky.
My favorite pick …
Miller. Just watch the film. He plays as if he has something to prove on every single snap. His knack for making acrobatic catches certainly will help Trubisky, who will experience his own ups and downs in his second season.
Did Ryan Pace play the draft board well? …
Yes, and forget about the Bears’ decision to trade up and draft Miller. That’s just another example of Pace acting upon his convictions. The draft was particularly strong for interior offensive linemen. The Bears might have liked guard Quenton Nelson, but it also was absurd to consider trading up for him. At No. 8, the Bears had outstanding defensive players to consider before and during the draft. When Day 2 of the draft opened, Daniels, Austin Corbett, Will Hernandez and Connor Williams were among the high-end interior offensive linemen available.
Did the Bears improve?
Yes, because the Bears’ significantly upgraded their talent around Trubisky through free agency and the draft. Trubisky is the centerpiece, and how he’s protected by Daniels, Cody Whitehair and Kyle Long and surrounded by receivers Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Miller, tight ends Trey Burton and Adam Shaheen and running backs Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen.