If ever there was a season in which the Bears could afford to be without first- and second-round picks, it could be this year.
No, the Bears aren’t a dynasty or even a Super Bowl team yet, but for the first time in a very long time they do have one of the more talented, younger rosters in the NFL.
Other than running back and placekicker, there really are no holes to fill heading into the draft.
At what other positions are the Bears likely to select a player this year that might crack the starting lineup or even become a significant backup?
Even following this season, the only starters eligible to leave via free agency before the 2020 campaign are Danny Trevathan, Cody Whitehair and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.
Sure, the Bears always need to be getting better and adding more talent; when you're not getting better, you're getting worse.
But as Ryan Pace now has proven on multiple occasions, that can be done in the middle and later rounds.
What is missing with the lack of a first- or second-round pick are the better odds and constant hope of landing a top prospect who becomes a superstar, like Kyle Long, Kyle Fuller (although it wasn’t instant) and maybe Roquan Smith.
So what can Bears fans hope for with the team's first trip to the podium at 87?
In 2014, the Chiefs selected journeyman CB Phillip Gaines. The Steelers tabbed oft-injured WR Sammie Coates in 2015. The following April, the Bengals selected ILB Nick Vigil, who is now a starter but really just a guy. Two years ago, the Giants grabbed QB Davis Webb, a pick I’m sure they’d like to have back. And in 2018, the Raiders, in a small twist of irony, had the 87th pick, which was used on EDGE Arden Key, who was quite pedestrian as a rookie.
If all that doesn’t lower expectations a bit, I’m not sure what will, but in the immortal words of Lee Corso, “Not so fast, my friend..."
A deeper dive reveals that in 2014, 2016 and 2018, there weren’t many players picked anywhere in the mid-80s to mid-90s to get excited about. But a look at 2015 should perk up your mood significantly.
At No. 86 that year, the Cardinals found RB David Johnson, one pick after the Bengals selected TE Tyler Kroft. Certainly, Ryan Pace has proven adept at moving up a spot or two to get a player he likes.
Or maybe he won’t even have to. The 88th player selected that year was the Vikings' Danielle Hunter, now one of the game’s premier pass rushers.
The 2017 draft just might brighten your spirits too.
The Bears want no part of a Davis Webb. But the 86th pick that year was a Kansas City running back named Kareem Hunt, and the 89th pick was Texans RB D’Onta Foreman.
How would Johnson, Hunt or Foreman look in the Bears backfield right now? What about Kroft in their TE mix or Hunter as the bookend with Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd?
This draft just got a lot more interesting, didn’t it?