Mark Potash: 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 Mark Potash analyzes their selections:
Roquan Smith will … win a tougher-than-expected battle with Nick Kwiatkoski at inside linebacker in the preseason and eventually be as good as advertised. In general, the nuances of Vic Fangio’s defense are not mastered quickly but with 10 returning starters around him, Smith’s adjustment period will be short and his impact almost immediate.
Be excited about … the potential for the Bears’ offense to take a quantum leap from 30th in yards and 32nd in passing yards in Matt Nagy’s first season. The growth of Mitch Trubisky with Nagy-specific skill-position additions Allen Robinson, Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller could accelerate the introductory phase of the process.
Be concerned about … injuries short-circuiting the Nagy Effect. The Bears made strength-and-conditioning changes in the offseason that are likely to pay benefits. But the Bears still go into 2018 with several key players coming off injuries — Robinson, Kyle Long, Leonard Floyd — plus Kevin White. And rookies James Daniels, Anthony Miller and Kyle Fitts had injury red-flags in the pre-draft process.
My favorite pick … Miller has the potential to make Bears fans forget about Cam Meredith. His ability to beat press coverage, stick the top of the route and get yards after the catch gives Nagy — and Trubisky — a versatile, multi-faceted threat who should be an immediate hit.
Did Ryan Pace play the draft board well? …
Trading back into the second round to get Miller could turn out to be a masterstroke that allowed the Bears to get a plug-and-play playmaker and address two key needs — interior line, wide receiver — in the first two rounds of the draft.
Did the Bears improve?
Coming off seasons of six, three and five victories, the Bears have almost nowhere to go but up — so there’s little question the Bears are better. They were going to be better even if they didn’t fire John Fox. But with Nagy and Trubisky in place and with Fangio re-hired with a top-10 defense, any additions have a much better chance to succeed than in recent years.