The Philly Special column: This offseason, the Bears way of constructing their roster mimics the method of Howie Roseman of the Super Bowl Champion Eagles. Whether it be trading up for a perceived franchise quarterback, hiring an offensive minded coach, buying weapons for the new coach-QB tandem and having an upcoming stout defense with a reliable coordinator on that end, the Bears can be seen as the next Philadelphia Eagles on an extended/not-so-fast timeline.
The Eagles made a pivot in last year’s draft, seemingly valuing production over combine testing results. It is too early to speak definitively on results, but the Eagles’ 2017 class looks solid, not spectacular, but filled with average starters with unquestionable upside. The rest of the NFL could follow in-toe in not valuing numbers as much, as the league is one of parity. If Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy wanted to go full Eagles, here would be a mock draft in that vein:
Round 1, Pick 8: Quenton Nelson, G, Notre Dame
Building in the trenches is one of the oldest football cliches, but I think it would give this Bears team an identity. Depending on who you ask, Nelson is the best or second best player in the draft. For the Bears, this perfect marriage of best player available and gaping need jumps off the page. Their line would become a strength of the team, Jordan Howard would be able to run as free as a limited power back like him can. The Eagles road to the Super Bowl involved great offensive line play, all of the postseason LeGarrette Blount touchdown runs involved otherworldly run blocking, most of the time there were wide open holes which Blount exploded through and promptly bulldozed his way through secondaries.
Just as a side note, if the Bears were to go the oft-mocked route of linebacker, the more sensical, Eagles route is Roquan Smith over Tremaine Edmunds due to Smith’s off the chart production at Georgia.
Round 2, Pick 39: Anthony Miller, WR, Memphis
The fourth leading receiver in the FBS last year, Miller being on a highlight reel is a common occurrence. He has great hands and body control to catch pretty much everything thrown his way, despite his small 5’11 stature. He is not a superior athlete, but he is going to be able to dissect coverage in the NFL via his routes and jump ball ability. His pairing with the speedy Taylor Gabriel would be a great compliment and with the Bears’ creative offensive staff, their offense would have a new wrinkle that can be fleshed out in a variety of looks.
The following is Miller’s spider chart:
Round 4, Pick 105: M.J. Stewart, CB, North Carolina
Round 4, Pick 115: Jack Cichy, LB, Wisconsin
A talented yet undersized corner, Stewart’s best ability is tackling and pressing in the slot. He is a tough player who can add an edge when a linebacker leaves the field for a sub-package. An Eddie Jackson type pick, Cichy was one of the best linebackers in 2016-2017 before tearing his ACL before in practice before a game this season. He is a big time sleeper who can develop into a gritty leader of a defense if healthy. Coaches will love both of these players, they would add new, rough layers and eventual starters to a Bears’ defense that is already above average.
Round 5, Pick 145: Jordan Lazley, WR, UCLA
Round 6, Pick 181: Tony Brown, CB, Alabama
Round 7, Pick 224: Ralph Webb, RB, Vanderbilt
Rounds five through seven are never anything spectacular. This group of players may not have elite testing numbers, but have above average production for their team and/or the ability to play a role on special teams. Lazley does everything well, but nothing great, he could work himself onto the active roster as a special team player who gets limited snaps on offense. The reader may recognize Tony Brown for being torched in those Alabama games you watched. Good news, he is a good special teamer with work has the upside of a third corner. Webb is not athletic, he works for most of yards, he is unspectacular, but he can work at the backend of a rotation.