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Patrick Finley: Analyzing the biggest questions about the Bears’ draft class

Ryan Pace was fired up about his first-round draft pick — the Bears general manager used his favorite phrase four times Thursday alone. But how should the Bears feel about the entire draft?  Sun-Times expert Patrick Finley analyzes their selections:

Roquan Smith will …

Be the Bears’ third-best defensive player by midseason — behind only Akiem Hicks and a healthy Leonard Floyd. If his instincts and leadership traits translate to the NFL, he’ll be the leader of the defense by 2019.

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Roquan Smith and Roger Goodell

Roquan Smith of Georgia poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. | Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Be excited about …

Another weapon for Mitch Trubisky. At 5-11, 209 pounds, receiver Anthony Miller was a route-running tactician for pass-happy Memphis. He finished second in the nation with 1,407 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last season, and totaled more receiving yards in his last two years than Alabama’s Calvin Ridley did in his last three. In the second round last year, the Bears drafted Adam Shaheen based on his size and athleticism; it’s refreshing to see them take Miller based on actual production.

Be concerned about …

The pass rush. The Bears never fixed their receiver position last offseason and, after an injury rash, watched it become the worst in the league. Could the same happen at outside linebacker? The Bears dipped their toe into a shallow free agent pool, pulling out the inconsistent Aaron Lynch, but then didn’t draft an edge rusher until the sixth round. Floyd ensures at least half of their edge rushing corps is dynamic, but Sam Acho, Lynch, Isaiah Irving and draftee Kylie Fitts aren’t established pass rushers.

Floyd has missed, on average, five games each season. If that happens again, the Bears are in trouble.

 My favorite pick …

The Bears’ youngest player, James Daniels won’t be able to legally buy a drink until a few days after the season-opener. If you’re going to bet on someone that young, pedigree helps — and the Hawkeyes have had three offensive linemen drafted in the first round since 2010. Riley Reiff and Bryan Bulaga have started 165 of 177 games in which they were active, while Brandon Scherff is one of the NFL’s best guards.

Did Ryan Pace play the draft board well? …

Yes — but Pace’s credit card bill comes due next year, when he won’t have a second-round pick because of the Miller trade. Their draft might have looked better had the Lions not traded one spot in front of them to draft Alabama defensive end Da’Shawn Hand in Round 4.

Did the Bears improve? 

Every team improved. The question becomes: can Smith cover up for their lack of a pass rush?