Bears Discover the Trade Off of Trading Up

Not all the Bears needs got addressed in the draft, which is only to be expected after they surrendered picks in order to find the quarterback of their dreams and a top tackle.
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Bears general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy painted a satisfied picture in their post-draft description.

It's difficult to spoil any satisfaction they or any Bears fan felt when they acquired the quarterback they wanted and what essentially was a first-round tackle in the second round.

Still, Justin Fields plays quarterback and Teven Jenkins apparently will be a left tackle following Monday's departure of Charles Leno Jr.

It's difficult to address everything when the third-round pick is traded away, not that anyone is complaining. The holes remain obvious, though.

"There are things that are in your control and not in your control," Nagy said. "But I know this, in regards to our roster and what we have defensively — we do feel really, really good about the players that we have, really on this entire roster, not just on defense."

Pace pointed to the acquisitions during free agency on defense in his defense, and hung his hat on the talent already in place.

"Just the talent that we have on defense, the moves we've made there over the years, and you talk about Khalil Mack and Eddie Jackson and (Akiem) Hicks and Roquan (Smith) and (Danny) Trevathan and you can go on and on," Pace said. "And then I think some of the moves we've made in free agency this year helped us a lot leading into this draft with (Desmond) Trufant, Angelo Blackson, (Jeremiah) Attaochu, Christian Jones, re-signing (Tashaun) Gipson was big for us.

"I felt like we attacked a lot of that in free agency and it really opened the draft, truly opened up the draft for best player. And as you know, you just kind of go the way the board goes sometimes and it happened to lean a little bit more offense this year."

The problem with Pace's comments?

For the most part those are backup players he acquired on defense. Gipson obviously is a starter. They're hoping Trufant can be, but too much is riding on an injury-riddled player.

Here's their most unsettled spots coming out of the draft, removing tackle for now because of the Leno move. They might not be done at that position yet, however.

1. Starting Left Cornerback

They're counting on either:

  • 31-year-old Desmond Trufant, who wound up on injured reserve three of the last five years and the last two years. Or ...
  • Kindle Vildor, a fifth-round pick with 135 defensive snaps of experience. Or ...
  • Duke Shelley, a sixth-round pick with 216 defensive snaps and mostly regarded as a slot cornerback. Or ...
  • Rookie sixth-round pick Robert Graham Jr.
  • Long-shot veterans like former Steelers starter Artie Burns, Xavier Crawford or Tre Roberson. Roberson was in Canada and suffered a season-ending injury in offseason training last year and Burns tore his ACL in training camp. Crawford was on the Bears practice squad and got into three games.

2. Nickel Cornerback

The slot position is one where younger players often step up after developing. It happened with the Bears when Bryce Callahan came along as an undrafted free agent and withstood the rigors of a Vic Fangio camp to win the spot.

It's possible Shelley or Vildor could do this here, or maybe Graham. However, Graham's epxerience is mostly on the outside and it's best not to force too much new on rookies. Keeping him outside might be better.

There are a few veteran free agent slot cornerbacks floating around and the money situation here would be easier to manage than would finding a starting cornerback in free agency at a low cost.

3. Slot Receiver

They brought in Dazz Newsome, but expecting a sixth-round receiver to simply take over the spot from Anthony Miller could be a reach. After all, there are a few other receivers on the roster who haven't stepped up to a higher level yet in Javon Wims and Riley Ridley. Perhaps one of them surprises everyone and becomes a slot receiver.

Like Newsome, Miller still has return ability. Miller can return both punts and kicks and the Bears might simply want to keep him around to let him do as much as possible in the final year of his contract.

They might actually have the answer at hand here with Miller for this year, although someone faster in the draft would have been preferable.

4. Tight End

Sure, they took Cole Kmet last year and Jimmy Graham is still around for at least one more year. But the roster requires three tight ends and Demetrius Harris was never signed back on when his contract expired. They have handful of undrafted types like Jesper Horsted, new signee Scooter Harrington from Stanford and former college basketball player Darion Clark. There are several free agent options and also it's a position where trades and June 1 cuts often come into play.

Pace even pointed out they could trade or wait for a veteran to be cut and had their eyes on some.

The roster will remain fluid until camp and they may need to see some actual play on the field during offseason work to know whether they need to bring in extra help.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven