Best Available Athletes, Just Not These

The idea of taking best available athlete only applies to teams without real specific needs, and the Bears can't afford to draft someone at five particular positions in Round 1 just because they're good athletes.
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NFL personnel people will never call need their driving force in the draft.

They like their draft boards, the work going into them, and also that whole best-available athlete routine.

However, their failures in the draft can shoot down this approach. 

Most often, a team has to take the best available athlete based on their need position.

With less than two weeks remaining until the NFL Draft, the Bears could be headed any number of different direction at No. 20 depending on how the picks above them fall, and their own decision whether to trade up for a quarterback or even another particular player at a need spot.

What is clear is there are positions the Bears do not need to draft. If they do it, they could be wasting their chance at an impact player and set the team back several years while acquiring talent like they already possess.

If they choose a player in Round 1 at these positions or even a particular player mentioned, they've just wasted everyone's time. 

1. Safety

TCU safety Trevon Moehrig was projected by Pro Football Focus in one mock draft as the Bears pick for the first round, in what seemed a rather snarky shot at the team and its fans in general. This is no slam at Moehrig, who seems to possess the best talent at this position in this draft. NFL Draft Bible does rank him as the best safety. However, they don't even rate him as a first-round choice. 

Safeties generally are undervalued, although both Pro Football Focus and Mel Kiper Jr. have Moehrig rated as a first-round talent. The Bears have $58.4 million tied up in Eddie Jackson, and devoting a first-round choice to a different safety when they don't even have a legitimate starting left cornerback and a proven slot cornerback seems kind of like worrying about whether finger nails need to be clipped on your right hand while you're absent-mindedly sticking your left hand into the wood chipper. It's like the kind of thing a team would do if they'd just won the Super Bowl, rather than finish .500 for the second straight year. 

The one sure position Ryan Pace seems to be able to find is safety and always on Day 3 of the draft. So a first-round safety would be a total waste.

2. Guard

Nothing against USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker, but reading an assessment of a tackle and seeing he could project to guard in the NFL if he doesn't fit at tackle makes me want to vomit. That's what you write when you can't think of something else to write because you can say it about every single tackle. 

If you want a guard, look for a guard. Vera-Tucker did an excellent job at tackle last year for USC, and there's every reason to believe he can play there. But scouts look at his shorter arms and say he might not be an NFL tackle. If you're the Bears and Vera-Tucker is there for you, then don't draft him. If you're looking for a tackle, it means you're looking for a tackle. If you're convinced he's a tackle, then take him but don't do it with the idea he could play guard if it doesn't work out. 

The Bears can't draft players at tackle who project as guards. Even Buckingham Palace and Fort Knox combined don't have more guards than the Bears have at Halas Hall at the moment. They've got Cody Whitehair, James Daniels, Alex Bars, Germain Ifedi, Elijah Wilkinson, Arlington Hambright, Dieter Eiselen and maybe even Lachavious Simmons. At least he was said to be a tackle who might project to guard when they drafted him. There's that phrase again. They need a big tackle or even two, who can handle edge rushers and provide the kind of run blocking needed to lead the outside zone running scheme when they rely on it. 

Pro Football Focus, NFL Draft Bible, ESPN and other websites have all listed guard as one of the big needs the Bears have. Apparently these guys sit around in the offseason looking at old charts that say Kyle Long is gone: "Well, I'll be, ma Better go out and get 'em another one." 

So they write the Bears need another guard. Folks, take a look at a roster once in a while. The Bears do not need a guard.

3. Edge

This is another position many mock drafts have projected as a need spot for the Bears. In recent weeks, both Jayson Oweh and Micah Parsons of Penn State have been projected as choices in popular web mocks for the Bears. If this happens, take out a pencil and stab yourself in the hand. 

First, uh, you do know there's this guy named Khalil Mack? And they just spent $70 million on Robert Quinn, for worse or for worse. Last year they traded away a 2021 fourth-round pick to jump into the fifth round and take Trevis Gipson. They just signed another edge rusher, Jeremiah Attaochu. They still have James Vaughters. They've even got Mack's little brother, Ledarius. This is not a need position. If it is, then someone wasted an awful lot of money already (and they may have). 

Second, both Oweh and Parsons last made a sack in 2019. For the uninformed, this is 2021. At least in Parsons' defense, he opted out last year. Oweh played last season and couldn't make one sack. Someone needs to introduce him to Quinn. Neither Parsons nor Owey made more than seven career sacks. The reason personnel people are wetting themselves over these two is Oweh ran a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and Parsons a 4.39. So the Olympics are coming and maybe they can be in the 4 by 100 relay? Just because they are fast doesn't mean they can make sacks. They didn't do it much at Penn State. But you know, the NFL, that's not Big Ten quality. They'll surely make sacks against NFL competition.

4. Outside Receiver

The Bears have a real need at slot receiver. In many early mock drafts, a popular pick for them was Rashod Bateman of Minnesota. If Bateman is their pick, an outside receiver, then we've got a real problem. It's called Allen Robinson and he'll be leaving Chicago. This would be a waste in and of itself, sending away a receiver who should be in the Pro Bowl, one who contributes to the team in every way imaginable and is probably the team MVP for two seasons. So drafting an X-receiver would not, in and of itself, be a waste. It would indicate something of Robinson's future no one in Chicago wants to hear.

5. Running Back

One early mock draft had Najee Harris falling to the Bears in Round 1 and they took him. Best available, apparently. Harris looks like he can do everything, but that's why the Bears have David Montgomery. Signing Damien Williams took care of one huge Bears need for a backup running back to Montgomery. They still have Artavis Pierce as a project-type back and Tarik Cohen is returning from an ACL tear. It wouldn't be a shock for the Bears to draft a back in the seventh round if he also is a kick or punt returner. However, taking one before the very late part of the draft or even before undrafted free agency would be wasteful. 

If they do this, their great need position would be general manager and the best available athlete would be the guy designated to haul things out of the old general manager's office to the car.

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