3 draft needs for the Chicago Bears
Chicago went out and gave Mike Glennon a lot of money to play quarterback in 2016, but whether or not he’s able to grab the reins and prove to be the team’s first franchise QB in a long time is still very much in the air. If he doesn’t live up to expectations, the Bears can move on next offseason at minimal penalty. While there is some exciting talent on the roster, there are also a handful of positions that are in need of an upgrade if this team is going to get back into contention. The Bears are a team working through a transition, and as such there are a variety of positions they should look to improve during this year’s draft.
After eight seasons, the Bears decided it was time to – finally – move on from the embattled Jay Cutler. Chicago went out and threw $18.5 million guaranteed at Tampa Bay’s former backup, Glennon, but whether or not he’s the ultimate answer for Chicago is still very much a question, and their ability to get out from under the contract so easily next offseason indicates they aren’t entirely sold on Glennon either. The most action Glennon has seen up to this point came back in 2013, when he started 13 games for the Bucs. That season, he ranked 31st out of 41 qualified QBs with an overall grade of 72.1; he followed that up with a 76.2 overall grade in six starts in 2014 and he’s seen just 15 snaps since.
Early-round option: Mitchell Trubisky, North Carolina
Our No. 1 quarterback prospect, Trubisky finished the season ranked third among draft-eligible QBs with an 86.0 overall grade. He was especially impressive on third downs, an area where he also ranked third among his contemporaries in our play-by-play grading. Trubisky has some work to do in terms of his deep-ball accuracy – his 42.1 adjusted completion percentage on balls thrown for at least 20 yards in the air last season ranked 18th in the draft class – but his short-to-intermediate accuracy is solid (his 75.1 adjusted completion percentage on all throws ranked seventh) and he’s shown in just one year of starting that he’s capable of handling pressure — his 66.7 adjusted completion percentage on throws under pressure ranked fifth in the class.
Mid- to late-round option: Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
Peterman’s 60.7 percent adjusted completion percentage on throws traveling between 21 and 30 yards in the air ranked first among the draft class; his passing grade at the intermediate level was well above the class average, and he was significantly ahead of the class average in terms of big-time throws as well. Peterman can be considered a gambler – his percentage of turnover-worthy plays was also over the class average – and his short accuracy needs some polish but the positive traits he demonstrated in 2016 are certainly worth an investment in the middle rounds of the draft.
Need: Defensive interior
Chicago made a good move last offseason in acquiring Akiem Hicks, who finished 2016 season ranked 15th among interior defenders with an overall grade of 83.1. Beyond Hicks though, the depth chart gets a bit dicey. Chicago spent a third-round pick in last season’s draft on Jonathan Bullard, but he struggled, finishing 107th out of 127 qualified defensive interior players with an overall grade of just 42.4; and Mitch Unrein’s highest single-season overall grade so far was 64.6 back in 2013, which would have ranked at 54th in 2016.
Early-round option: Jonathan Allen, Alabama
Allen is the most complete interior defender in the draft and while he might not have blown the combine out of the water, his film is about as impressive as it gets. Allen’s explosion, quickness and hands on tape are superb, and those traits usually lead to him controlling – if not just completely shedding — whoever is trying to block him. Allen ranked fourth among this defensive interior class with both an 11.5 run-stop percentage and 12.0 pass-rush productivity rating; and his ability to have success from multiple positions across the defensive front makes him truly special.
Mid- to late-round option: Ryan Glasgow, Michigan
Glasgow played nose tackle for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan but that could have had something to do with the embarrassment of riches Michigan had on its defensive line, as Glasgow is capable of aligning pretty much anywhere on the defensive front. Glasgow’s lateral agility is superb and he makes use of it to embarrass interior offensive lineman as a pass-rusher, he ranked third among defensive interior players in this year’s class with a PRP of 12.0, and his 15.9 PRP on third down ranked third as well. Glasgow has some work to do as a run defender, but at the very least he should be a solid pass-rusher within a defensive line rotation.
The Bears already made a nice move this offseason to go out and sign Prince Amukamara, but he profiles more like a No. 2, not a No. 1 like he’s currently slated. After struggling in his rookie season back in 2011, Amukamara has been remarkably consistent, grading between 75.9 and 79.3 in each of the past five seasons; his 76.6 overall grade from last season ranked 41st among qualified CBs. While there is some talent on the depth chart behind Amukamara there are plenty of question marks as well.
Early-round option: Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State
Our highest-ranked cornerback prospect, Lattimore is the complete package at the position. Lattimore is a fluid mover with the size and athleticism on the outside to really make life difficult on receivers; he mirrors well underneath, making short routes awkward and he can stick with receivers stride for stride on go routes (he allowed an NFL passer rating of just 2.8 on slant routes and gave up just two completions on 12 targets on go routes). While he can walk the line at times in terms of playing with too much contact, he appears to know at least where in the sand the line is generally drawn as he committed just two penalties in 2016.
Mid- to late-round option: Shaquill Griffin, UCF
Griffin may be the most blatant casualty of the depth of this year’s CB class, as it’s tough to imagine a corner with his combination of size and speed (to go with the performance numbers to back it all up) slipping into Day 3 most years. But alas, this is the reality that Griffin is dealing with and there will be one lucky team who benefits mightily. Griffin allowed just 39.7 percent of passes thrown into his coverage to be caught in 2016, he finished 11th out of 481 qualified corners with an 86.2 overall grade and his 15 combined pass breakups and interceptions last season were third most of the group.