The Bears are coming off back-to-back 8-8 seasons, the most recent of which resulted in a wild-card playoff berth. Since 2010, the Bears have won the NFC North twice, most recently in 2018 – Matt Nagy’s first season as head coach. Thanks to the trade they made for Khalil Mack three years ago, this will be the first time the Bears will have a first-round pick since then.
Some quick history: The following are the Bears’ last five years’ worth of first-round draft picks.
- 2020: None
- 2019: None
- 2018: Roquan Smith
- 2017: Mitchell Trubisky
- 2016: Leonard Floyd
Three of their eight first-round picks since 2011 remain on their roster. This includes Mitch Trubisky, though he is an impending free agent this offseason.
The following are players who could possibly be on the move, either through trade or being cut, due to their 2021 cap hit (age in parentheses).
- Akiem Hicks (31)
- Jimmy Graham (34)
- Bobby Massie (31)
The Bears’ are $2.5 million over the cap for the 2021 season, not including any of the possible trade or cut candidates listed above.
As mentioned earlier, this will be the Bears’ first first-round selection since 2018 (assuming they keep it). Interestingly enough, they’ve alternated between drafting offensive and defensive players in the first round since 2011. This will be their first season since 2014 drafting outside the top 10. An impact player on the offensive side of the football would likely be the choice here.
Possibility #1: Ohio State OG Wyatt Davis
Career: 24 games started; 8 starts in 2020
Why: The offensive line is arguably the second-most important position group on offense, outside of the quarterback. The Bears averaged just 4.2 yards per carry (bottom half of the league) and had just 12 rushing TDs (T-29th). Improvement in the run game would be beneficial for their offense in general and their quarterback in particular.
Wyatt Davis can step in and be a starting offensive guard Week 1 in the NFL. He can fit multiple schemes at the next level. He’s got problems moving in space but gets to the second level nicely and is a center’s best friend on double-team blocks. He’s got a nice anchor in pass protection and shows a nice recovery ability when beat, too. He was a unanimous All-America and has family in football (grandfather is Hall of Famer Willie Davis). Davis can start Day 1 for the Bears and would be an immediate upgrade for their offensive line. The one note of caution to look out for: his knee injuries from the past season (left knee).
Possibility #2: North Dakota State QB Trey Lance
2019 stats: 2,786 pass yards, 28 TDs, 0 INTs, 1,100 rush yards, 14 TDs (only 1 game in 2020 due to COVID)
Why: Chicago has a need at the quarterback position. Current starter Mitch Trubisky has underwhelmed over his career and is currently a free agent this offseason. Backup Nick Foles took over for Trubisky during the 2020 season and was subsequently benched in favor of Trubisky later that same year.
Lance is a project player. He may not be able to come in and start right away, but he has plenty of tools for any team to work with. He is an exceptional athlete and runner with the football. He’s played just one full season while at North Dakota State (2019) and played just one game this past season due to COVID. He’s not a polished passer but has plenty of arm talent that just needs to be coached up. Sitting a year behind Foles so he could learn and develop would be ideal for the NDSU product. He offers the upside to become a valuable starter in the NFL. Oh yeah, he’s also just 20 years old.
Possibility #3: Wake Forest DL Carlos Basham
2020 stats: 6 games, 28 tackles, 4.5 TFLs, 5 sacks, 1 PD, 4 FFs
Why: The front seven of the Chicago Bears is the most talented part of their entire roster. At the moment they have no reason to draft a defensive lineman in the first round. But that could change very quickly depending on their offseason. They could cut Akiem Hicks (would save $10.5 million) and need a new starter along their line. Enter Carlos Basham.
Basham has been a riser of late for many. He put on quite a performance at the Senior Bowl, showing off the ability to play among the interior linemen as well as outside. He constantly was in the backfield and put pressure on opposing QBs while at Wake Forest. He specializes in pass rush and has a plethora of pass rush moves he can call upon. His high IQ helps him to understand offensive schemes, which in turn allows him to excel against the run. Basham is a safe pick in this draft, with the ability to play as both a 4-3 and 3-4 defensive end.
Possibility #4: Minnesota WR Rashod Bateman
2020 stats: 5 games, 36 receptions, 472 yards, 13.1 ypr, 2 TDs
Why: Chicago may be losing its best offensive player this offseason in wide receiver Allen Robinson, who is a free agent. The Bears, at the moment, don’t have the cap space to re-sign him. They will need to find a new No. 1 target for their offense.
Bateman entered the 2020 college football season as one of the best wide receiver prospects after a phenomenal 2019 season with Minnesota. He cooled down quite a bit in 2020. Nonetheless, he is still a top receiver prospect in this year’s draft. Bateman will be an immediate impact player in the slot. He was great over the middle for Minnesota and was an exceptional route runner as well. He may not translate immediately as a receiver who can play outside but has the skill set and size (6-2, 210) to do so if he can improve his ability to beat press coverage and his short area quickness. Bateman’s above the line route running, ball skills and size make him a viable option to replace Robinson.
Player to Watch: Alabama OG Deonte Brown
Career: 26 starts; 13 starts in 2020
Why: The Bears need help along their offensive line, as mentioned above with Wyatt Davis. If they can’t get Davis, Brown would be an option.
Brown is a gigantic human being. Standing at 6-3 and 364 pounds, Brown is a bully along the offensive line. Despite his size, he is one of the best pulling guards in the draft and runs better than a majority of the guards in the draft. He needs to play more on his toes and get better at playing lower in pass protection and when he gets to the second level. He needs his footwork and technique to be refined at the next level but offers immediate starting value. He has the size and style to be a monster along the line.
SEE ALSO: On the Clock archive
Sources: Overthecap, Football Reference