This will be Ryan Pace’s fourth year drafting as the general manager of the Chicago Bears. If you’ve been paying attention, you already know that he has proven to be one of the more aggressive front office guys in the NFL, especially on draft day.
He’s traded up to draft Leonard Floyd, Mitch Trubisky, and Eddie Jackson, three key players at positions of need that season. And that doesn’t even take into account his aggressive trade for Khalil Mack.
But the trade I want to focus on here is the one he completed in last years draft for wide receiver Anthony Miller.
Here’s how that trade went down:
2018 2nd round pick, 51st overall (Anthony Miller)
2018 4th Round pick, 105th overall (Traded to the Browns: Antonio Callaway)
2019 2nd round pick, 56th overall (TBD)
The Bears essentially gave up a fourth-round pick for the rights to use their 2019 second-round pick a year early.
Pace is not one to sit back and let other teams pick the players he wants. So who’s to say he won’t do the same thing again? With eight picks currently in the 2020 NFL draft (most likely nine when they get a comp pick for Adrian Amos) and two second rounders, it seems likely.
So who are some players for whom they could conceivably target?
One of the top running backs
A bit of a cop out, I’ll admit. While I don’t have a specific running back in mind, there are five running backs in this draft who can be game changers in my opinion and then a steep drop off after that.
The Bears have scouted running backs so extensively that I find it hard to believe Pace and Matt Nagy do not have a specific guy in mind who will fit their offense best – and I’d bet it’s one of those five.
Of the top five running backs, there are three that I could see the Bears trading into the second round to secure: Josh Jacobs (my No. 1 running back), Miles Sanders (No. 4), and Darrell Henderson (No. 5).
Devin Singletary (No. 2) and David Montgomery (No. 3) round out my top five, and I would love to have either of them on the Bears. However, they do not have as high of ceilings which makes trading up for them unlikely.
It is certainly possible one of those three prospects falls all the way to the Bears’ first pick. Keeping on mind Pace’s draft strategy,I don’t see him waiting back to get his second or third choice.
Now, we can argue about the merits of trading up for a position that may be the least valuable and most easily replaceable. But that’s an argument for another day.
To view my full running back rankings, Click Here
Michigan OLB Chase Winovich
The Bears unique circumstances make trading up for a running back possible. More often than not, trading up in the draft should be reserved for only the most impactful positions such as quarterback, cornerback, and, in this case, pass rusher.
Winovich is an intriguing prospect who, if he were in a different draft class, would be talked about more as a potential late first round pick. With a loaded edge class Winovich most likely finds himself in the second-round range.
A former tight end, Winovich had himself a pretty successful college career registering 164 tackles, 43 for loss, and 18.5 sacks in three years as a defensive lineman. According to Pro Football Focus, he also had 53 total pressures his senior year and had the fourth best pass rush win percentage at 21.7.
Winovich’s pass rush arsenal is deep which keeps offensive linemen guessing allowing him to win in a variety of different. His advanced hand usage and ability to sync his lower body with his upper body through the arc make him an attractive prospect.
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) May 9, 2018
His advanced technique, combined with a relentless motor, make him a fairly safe prospect. But he proved he has the potential for even more at the combine where he ran a 4.59 forty yard dash and posted a sub-seven second 3-cone drill (6.94).
Of all the players on this list, Winovich has the chance to be drafted the highest. The Bears might have to offer more to get him than they did for Miller, but if he starts dropping, Chicago could pounce.
Texas A&M Tight End Jace Sternberger
Tight end is one of the hardest positions to transition from college to the pros. Possibly even the hardest. Most players at the position do not make an impact until their second or third year.
Just look at some of the best tight ends in their rookie seasons:
- Rob Gronkowski: 42 receptions for 542 yards
- Tony Gonzalez: 33 receptions for 368 yards
- Greg Olson: 39 receptions for 391 yards
- Vernon Davis: 20 Receptions for 265 yards
- Zach Ertz: 46 receptions for 469 yards
- Kyle Rudolph: 26 receptions for 249 yards
- Jason Witten: 35 receptions for 347 yards
Trading a 2020 pick in order to draft a tight end a year earlier and get his progress started sooner seems like a good bet. Let a player experience his rookie learning curve this year before taking on a more prominent role in Year 2.
After all, the Bears can save some money after this season by cutting Trey Burton (just under three million) and I doubt they would want to replace him with a rookie.
So if the Bears do trade up for a tight end, keep an eye on Sternberger.
After not playing much at Kansas, Sternberger transferred to Texas A&M after the 2016 season. He had to sit out a year due to transfer rules so he only brings one year of production into the NFL. In that year he did not disappoint, racking up 48 receptions for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Sternberger is a fantastic weapon as a receiver, even if his utility as an inline blocker is limited at this time.
The play below is a good example of his route running ability as well as his ability after the catch.
He uses his feet and head in unison to sell the out route before cutting back over the middle. Then once he secures the slightly underthrown ball he is able to drag the defender for an additional 25 yards.
Sternberger would give the Bears a downfield playmaker at the position they are lacking. Burton is good underneath but struggles to create separation downfield. Sternberger can be a seam-busting tight end as evidenced by his 17.3 yards per reception. This would open up underneath routes for Miller and Burton.
Most importantly, getting him into Halas Hall a year early allows the Bears to take advantage of his playmaking ability while also hiding his blocking deficiencies. Once he has a year, or possibly two, to get stronger and work on his technique he has the ability to become a Pro Bowl tight end.
There’s no guarantee the Bears are going to trade up in this weekend’s draft, and even if they want to, there’s no guarantee they find a willing trade partner.
After all, when they made the Miller trade a year ago no one expected them to have the year they did. It was well before trading for Mack and the Patriots probably thought they were going to get a high second round pick. No one will be thinking that this year.
I wouldn’t put anything past Pace. If he wants a guy he’s going to do everything in his power to get him.