Unlike several other teams searching for a new quarterback, the Bears are in a good position to select a valuable player in the first round of the NFL Draft on April 26.
This year’s draft conversation has been dominated by quarterbacks, but the Bears filled their quarterback void last season after drafting Mitch Trubisky.
The Bears’ focus has shifted to surrounding Trubisky with the players that can help him be successful. The Bears need playmaking receivers, and they need to add help on their offensive line especially with Kyle Long recovering from his multiple surgeries and since general manager Ryan Pace didn’t pick up the $8 million option on Josh Sitton’s contract.
While some of those positions can be filled in free agency, which begins next week, the Bears will look for fresh talent in this year’s draft.
With the Senior Bowl and NFL combine behind us, here are four potential candidates the Bears could select in the first round:
Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame G
In January, new head coach Matt Nagy hired Nelson’s college coach, offensive line guru Harry Hiestand, for the same role on his staff. General manager Ryan Pace decided he wouldn’t pick up the $8 million option on four-time Pro Bowl guard Josh Sitton’s contract, rendering him a free agent and creating a gaping hole where there’d been none before. Here’s why Nelson makes so much sense.
Josh Jackson, Iowa CB
Jackson has top-notch ball skills and the size (6-1, 192 pounds) that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio prefers. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.56 seconds at the combine, silencing some concerns about his speed.
Denzel Ward, Ohio State CB
Ward is another candidate, our Adam Jahns suggested if the Bears don’t end up taking Jackson. Ward has a slightly different build than Jackson, standing at 5-foot-10 and weighing in at 191 pounds. And during the NFL Combine, he ran the 40 in 4.32 seconds.
Calvin Ridley, Alabama WR
If the Bears come out of free agency empty-handed in the wide receiver department, the Bears could draft Ridley, who caught 63 passes for 967 yards and five touchdowns last season for Alabama.