The 2018 NFL Draft began on April 26 and ended on April 28. The draft was held in the infamous AT&T Stadium, or should I say “Jerry’s World,” in Dallas, Texas. The draft was everything and anything everyone thought it would be. It was intense, silly, and everything in-between. Some people walked away feeling victorious like they just won the lottery, and others walked away feeling like they were just sentenced to life in prison. That being said, let’s take a look at the Chicago Bears and how they left fans feeling after this year’s draft.
Round 1, Pick 8 (8 overall): Roquan Smith, ILB, University of Georgia
My Grade: A+
I absolutely loved this pick by the Chicago Bears which is why I gave it an A+. I like this pick for many different reasons, but the main being that Roquan Smith is the leader the Bears have been missing. The Bears ranked 10th in total defense in the league in 2017, which is not too shabby for a team that finished with a 5-10 record. The defense was about the only good thing the Bears had going for them in 2017 with an ultimately one-dimensional and outdated offensive scheme under head coach John Fox. The Bears may not have been as flashy as teams like Jacksonville or Minnesota, but they were slowly growing and taking huge strides forward as a defensive unit. By the time the end of the season had approached, the Bears’ defense was nothing to sneeze at. However, the defense lacked something that it hasn’t had since Brian Urlacher retired in 2013, and that something is a leader. The defense lacks identity. It lacks that swagger and confidence that you need to be a great football team, and I believe the Bears found that thing they were missing in Smith.
In 2017, Smith was a consensus 1st-team All American. He was awarded the SEC Defensive Player of the Year award and was the unanimous Dick Butkus Award winner for best linebacker in the nation. He was also top 10 in stats in the SEC for categories across the board such as 1st in the SEC in total tackles and solo tackles, 3rd in tackles for loss, and 5th in forced fumbles. Smith is a fierce competitor and a leader, and he will instantly make an impact on the defense in the 2018-19 season. I am extremely excited about this pick and cannot wait to watch him flourish in the NFL and become one of the greats.
Round 2, Pick 7 (39 overall): James Daniels, OL, University of Iowa
My Grade: A
I was very pleased with this pick by the Bears. Going into the draft, I knew the Bears needed offensive line help to protect Trubisky. I thought if somehow he fell far enough to the 8th overall pick that the Bears would draft Quenton Nelson with their first round pick. This made sense because I knew we needed an offensive lineman or a linebacker more than anything else. I was sad to see Nelson go off the board at 6 to the Colts, but was soon compensated when we stole Roquan Smith off the board at 8. However, I knew we still needed a solid lineman to protect Trubisky, especially after the departure of Josh Sitton, our starting left guard, during free-agency. We asked for it and they delivered: the Bears start off day 2 of the draft with a bang by picking Daniels.
Daniels is 6’3, 306 pounds and extremely athletic and explosive off the ball. He played both guard and center during college at Iowa, but is more of a natural center. I could see the Bears moving Cody Whitehair, the bears current center, over to guard and placing Daniels in his natural spot at center. The University of Iowa is known for producing extremely effective offensive linemen that have great success in the NFL, hopefully Daniels falls into that stigma.
Round 2, Pick 19 (51 overall): Anthony Miller, WR, University of Memphis
My Grade: A
I absolutely love the pick. At first I was not too sure if I agreed with the Bears trading a 4th round pick and 2019 2nd round pick to move up to get him, but after learning more about Miller, I see why the Bears did what they did. Miller began his college career at Memphis as a walk-on in 2013 and then missed the entire 2014 season with a shoulder injury. Starting in 2015, Miller blossomed, catching 238 passes for 3,590 yards and 37 touchdowns over his final 3 years. He set school records in 2016 with 95 receptions for 1,434 yards and 14 touchdowns and then eclipsed his own records in 2017 with 96 catches for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns. Miller is an extremely versatile player with comparisons to Antonio Brown and Steve Smith as far as his skill set. The ceiling for Miller is higher than anyone can imagine, and I am extremely excited to watch him flourish under new head coach Matt Nagy’s offense.
Round 4, Pick 15 (115 overall): Joel “Iggy” Iyiegbuniwe, ILB, Western Kentucky University
My Grade: A
I like the pick a lot. The Bears addressed desperate needs in the first few rounds, and now it was time for the Bears to add depth in those places of need. Iggy is an extremely appealing player because of his intelligence as well as physical, downhill style of play. In 2017, the 6’1, 229-pound linebacker was named first-team All-Conference USA after leading the Hilltoppers with 117 tackles and 11.5 tackles-for-loss while also recording 2 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. He’s an extremely intelligent and dynamic player that can make big-time plays. I am very pleased with this pick and believe he will be a great asset at the linebacker position for the Bears.
Round 5, Pick 8 (145 overall): Bilal Nichols, DL, University of Delaware
My Grade: B+
I like this pick a lot for many different reasons but the main one being Nichols’ versatility. Bilal Nichols is 6’4, 306 pounds, and runs a 4.92 40-yard dash. At that height, weight, and speed, Nichols is performing at peak levels across the board. He played in a 4-3 defense his first two years in college before Delaware switched to a 3-4 defense. Having Nichols play in both schemes and having the success he did in those schemes shows his versatility and that he can play different positions up front. The Bears, however, like Nichols at the defensive line position. When you watch film of Nichols in the 3-4 scheme, you can see his explosiveness and quickness off the ball as well as his capability of making plays between the tackles which is very valuable to the Bears defensive scheme. Love the player, love the pick, great pick again by the Bears.
Round 6, Pick 7 (181 overall): Kylie Fitts, LB/EDGE, University of Utah
My Grade: B-
I like this pick because of the versatility that Fitts brings to the table. He’s the type of guy who is big enough and athletic enough to play either defensive end or linebacker even though he spent most of his college career as an edge rusher on the line. The main draw to Fitts is his quickness off the ball. He is extremely explosive which is what you look for in an edge rusher, and his size at 6’4, 263 pounds adds even more of an upside. The main concern is his history of injuries which kept him off the field for 2 seasons of his college career. If Fitts can stay healthy he could be a deadly addition to the Bears defense.
Round 7, Pick 6 (224 overall): Javon Wims, WR, University of Georgia
My Grade: A
The Bears started off the draft with a bulldog and ended with a bulldog. I absolutely love the pick, especially where they got him in the draft. Wims was a junior college transfer who played 2 seasons at Georgia. In 2017, he helped the Bulldogs reach the FBS championship game by leading the team in all receiving categories that included 45 receptions for 720 yards and 7 touchdowns. At 6’3, 215 pounds, Wims posses many impressive traits with most of all being a large, physical receiver with strong hands who can go and grab a 50/50 ball from the air and secure it. He has incredible body control and an outstanding catch radius that was put on full display when he absolutely torched the Sooners in the Rose Bowl with 2 touchdowns and 100+ receiving yards. Wims is a fierce competitor who has played in high-stakes games in high-stress situations, that experience is valuable to the Bears. It was a complete and total steal to get Wims in the 7th round, which is why the Bears officially won the 2018 NFL Draft.
My overall grade for the Chicago Bears NFL Draft is: A+. The Bears absolutely killed the draft in every aspect you could think of. They addressed all the needs of the team by picking up offensive line help in James Daniels and providing some weapons for Trubisky in Anthony Miller and Javon Wims to add to the free-agent additions of Trey Burton, Taylor Gabriel and Allen Robinson. The Bears also bolstered the defense by adding playmakers in key defensive roles. Being a Bears fan, I was extremely nervous for this draft as I have watched the Bears mess up their draft time and time again leaving me feeling like the guy who got a life sentence. After this year’s draft, I feel like a guy who just won the lottery. The Bears have been killing it the entire offseason; I cannot wait to see what they do in the 2018-19 season.