NFL Draft 2017 preview: Chicago Bears' top needs, pick predictions

By The Sports Xchange   |   April 19, 2017 at 1:42 PM
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This is one in a series that covers each team, offering viewers information for homework, suggestions and then the opportunity to make a draft pick.

When the NFL Draft begins selections in Philadelphia April 27, the Chicago Bears have the No. 3 pick in the first round.

Here is an in-depth look at the team's needs, offseason changes, potential best fit and the selections by NFLDraftScout.com's experts.

Who would you pick and why?

Top five needs

1. Safety: The lack of playmakers in the secondary played a huge role in tying the NFL record for fewest turnovers caused (11) last year. With a franchise record low of eight interceptions each of the last two seasons, the Bears have to come up with people who can stay with receivers and complement what had been an effective pass rush before a series of injuries. Jamal Adams is a good fit, but Malik Hooker of Ohio State would be the better centerfielder type if they choose to go in that direction instead of for a physical strong safety type.

2. Wide receiver: With no experienced standout receiver, and questions surrounding every other expected contributor, it would be difficult to envision a Bears draft without a receiver being selected in the first three rounds. The 6-foot-4 size of Clemson's Mike Williams makes him enticing as a replacement for Alshon Jeffery. Later in Round 1, it would be hard to pass on the ridiculous speed displayed by Washington's John Ross. More likely, after adding free agents Kendall Wright, Markus Wheaton, Dres Anderson and Rueben Randle, the Bears might look in the second round or third round at this position.

3. Cornerback: The Bears cut Tracy Porter, who had been their most effective cornerback the past two seasons, although this wasn't saying much. They've added Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper and B.W. Webb and still have Kyle Fuller and two 2016 draft picks at the position. So this can't be considered a primary need. But it's still one where a huge talent upgrade like Ohio State's Marshon Lattimore would be welcome.

4. Defensive end: Jonathan Allen would be an easy pick in the first round to come in and start immediately at end, but questions about arthritis in his shoulders persist. They have last year's third-round pick Jonathan Bullard, who struggled, and have started Mitch Unrein at end. Allen would be a tremendous upgrade. Placed alongside nose tackle Eddie Goldman, who has been effective when healthy, Allen would give the Bears the run-stuffing combo they need in a 3-4 base and can also get in the quarterback's face on passing downs with an interior rush.

5. Quarterback: Signing Mark Sanchez to be Mike Glennon's backup ahead of developmental project Connor Shaw can't possibly be the answer for the future. The Bears can be expected to pursue one of the draft's top quarterbacks at some point, possibly Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer or Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes early in Round 2.

BEST FIT

Jamal Adams, S, Louisiana State. Adams is the most logical choice for the Bears' long-standing need at safety with their third pick in the draft. A young playmaker with great hitting ability, Adams can play in the box or cover a slot receiver. Traditionally, teams do not select safeties this early on Day 1, but the truly elite safeties are taken there and Adams gives an indication he could be this type of player. At 6-foot, 214 pounds, he runs a 4.56 40-yard dash but defends against the run like a linebacker. Teaming a physical safety like Adams with veteran playmaker Quintin Demps in the deep secondary would be a good blend. And in Adams, the Bears wouldn't be taking an injury risk like they might have if they select defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, whose past shoulder injuries have raised red flags.

PREDICTION

Rob Rang: Jamal Adams, S, Louisiana State. Safety has long been a sore spot in Chicago with only one Bears safety (Mike Brown) earning an invitation to the Pro Bowl over the past 20 years. Adams has that kind of potential and is viewed by some as the safest prospect in the draft. He is a tone-setter with a rare combination of instincts, athleticism and intangibles to make an immediate impact on a defense that made strides a year ago but allowed 24.9 points per game, 24th in the NFL.

Dane Brugler: Mitchell Trubisky, QB, North Carolina. Yes, Mike Glennon is the (well-paid) starter, but adding Trubisky gives Chicago a young, talented passer to groom and take over as the starter, making Glennon a (well-paid) bridge quarterback.

Jim Miller: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson.

Frank Cooney, IMO: Although Miller's pick of Watson is compelling, I think the Bears hope to get through this season with Glennon and Sanchez and wait for a better crop of rookie quarterbacks. So let's go with safety Jamal Adams of Louisiana State to help keep the score down for whomever plays quarterback.

OK, it's your turn. Tell us in the comments section who you would pick and why. Check out top 1,000 players rated by NFLDraftScout.com, including combine and pro day workouts, biographies, scouting reports.

Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, is in his sixth decade covering football and 25th year on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.

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