Sports

During the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Ill. (Getty Images)

During the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University on April 28, 2016 in Chicago, Ill. (Getty Images)

By Vijay Vemu
Waubsonie Valley

The 2016 NFL Draft was the second year in the Ryan Pace and John Fox rebuild era of the Chicago Bears. Pace and Fox drafted the way they wanted to and overall the general consensus was that the Bears had a very solid draft. There were a couple of shaky picks, but Chicago was a winner at the end of the three days. The front office wants this team to get younger, and the draft is the best way to implement youth into a franchise

The Bears also signed numerous free agents that went undrafted right after the draft and some of those players could possibly make the roster and surprise the Bears coaches. They also cut veterans Antrelle Rolle and Matt Slauson. The Rolle cut was not surprising because the Bears drafted three safeties, but the Slauson cut is a risky one. Obviously younger players will be put in for Slauson and only time will tell if the move was the right one. With the moves they made last year and the way they drafted, Pace has earned the trust of the fans up till this point and the “Trust in Pace” campaign is in full effect. Let’s take a look at the picks and see what the Bears got in the draft.

Leonard Floyd (R1, Pick No. 9)

The Bears went super aggressive in the first round as Chicago swapped picks with Tampa Bay and also traded their fourth round pick to move up two spots to No. 9. With the ninth pick, the Bears went defensive and selected Leonard Floyd, the defensive end from Georgia. To be honest, the Bears may have reached on the pick, as Floyd isn’t the most polished player and there were better players on the board. But he was the guy they wanted and Chicago jumped above the Giants, who were probably going to select Floyd if he fell to them.

He’s a big player as he stands 6 feet 6 inches and has crazy athleticism. His long arms can cause problems for offensive lineman and help knock down passes right at the line of scrimmage. Speed is also an advantage for Floyd as he is only 220 pounds, light for a defensive lineman. But the weight can also hurt him as he can’t use any power moves when rushing the quarterback. He will certainly have to get stronger and gain weight if he wants to become a solid player in the league. Floyd will be a work in progress this offseason as he looks to gain weight and get stronger.

Cody Whitehair (R2, Pick No. 56)

After a questionable pick in the first round, Ryan Pace went out and drafted the best guard in the draft in Cody Whitehair. The Bears actually traded down twice to get to pick No. 56, swapping picks with both Seattle and Buffalo before they finally made a pick. They certainly got a great player in Whitehair, who is the most versatile offensive lineman in the draft. The former Kansas State Wildcat can play any of the three positions on the line (guard, center and tackle) and was a four year starter at K-State. He is likely to be a starter for the Bears come Week 1, and they can plug him in anywhere on the line. He and Kyle Long could be starters on the Bears O-line for a long time coming.

Jonathan Bullard (R3, Pick No. 72)

After grabbing Floyd in the first round, Chicago drafted another SEC defensive end: Jonathan Bullard from Florida. Like Whitehair, Bullard is a sort of Swiss Army Knife type player—he can play anywhere on the line. With the Bears 3-4 defense, he will likely play inside as a defensive tackle.

Bullard might not be a starter come Week 1 or even this season, as this pick was to help Chicago bolster their pass rushing depth. Bullard right now will probably be fourth on the depth chart and look to climb as the season goes on.  Chicago struggled to pressure the quarterback last year and better, young players always help to fill the depth. Credit to the Bears’ front office for hitting the weakness on both lines and addressing those situations on the first two days of the draft.

Nick Kwiatkoski (R4, Pick No. 113)

A converted safety, Kwiatkoski was a dominant linebacker at West Virginia, and this pick was again another depth pick. The Bears haven’t had any dominant linebackers since Briggs and Urlacher left town, and in one offseason, Pace and Fox may have found their duo. In the offseason, the Bears signed Danny Trevathan from the Broncos and Jerrell Freeman from the Colts, two quality players at the linebacker position. Now everyone is fighting for backup spots. Although they struggled last year, the young linebacking core of Jonathan Anderson, Christian Jones, and John Timu all showed flashes of potential. Timu is the front runner of the three to make the roster and now you can add Kwiatkoski to the mix. He was voted West Virginia’s defensive player of the year in 2015 but will have to really impress to make the roster. But if he does, Chicago might have the deepest linebacking core in the league.

Deion Bush (R4, Pick No. 124)

From the days of Chris Conte and Major Wright, the safety position has been a point of weakness for the Chicago Bears. The Bears drafted Adrian Amos last year to help out at that position, and the Penn State player showed some great potential and is the favorite to start. Chicago may have drafted the other starting safety with Deion Bush. Like Floyd, Bush is tall and athletic. He doesn’t look the part of the safety but he can hit and I mean he can hit. If he plays, Bush will likely be the safety flying in to make big hits on opposing wideouts. But obviously playing him comes with risks—the fact that he is not as good in coverage as other safeties and that may be a problem if he is matched up one-on-one in coverage. But Chicago needs safety help and Bush will give you that.

Deiondre’ Hall (R4, Pick No. 127)

Defense seemed to be the trend for Chicago in the draft and it continued with their pick of Deiondre’ Hall in the fourth round, three picks after Bush. Hall is 6 feet 2 inches, which is tall for cornerbacks but don’t count him as the starter opposite Tracy Porter. Hall is there as competition for Kyle Fuller and will look to push the former first round pick. Hall will likely play in the slot as he waits for his opportunity to start at CB. But again, this is a pick for the future.

Jordan Howard (R5, Pick No. 150)

With Matt Forte leaving town to play for the New York Jets and Jeremy Langford as the only option to play all three downs, running back was another priority for Chicago. They might have gotten a steal in Jordan Howard. He was one of the best running backs in the Big Ten last year and will have a solid shot at getting the No. 2 spot in the depth chart behind Langford. Howard will also help Chicago in short yardage situations, an area they struggled in last year. Very solid pick by Chicago to take Howard and to find a player like him this late in the draft is great.

DeAndre Houston-Carson (R6, Pick No. 185)

Chicago went another defensive back as they selected safety DeAndre Houston-Carson from William and Mary. Houston-Carson might have been taken in the sixth round but he was projected as a third or fourth round talent by some draft experts. He can help in terms of depth when it comes to the safety spot. But the real talent will be on special teams, where he had an amazing total of nine blocks. Again, finding guys with good value in the late rounds is key to solid drafting, and the Bears may have found that.

Daniel Braverman (R7, Pick No. 230)

Speaking of late round value, Chicago found a very product player in Daniel Braverman in the seventh round. Coming out of Western Michigan, Braverman put up fantastic numbers as a slot receiver, a spot he could be playing for the Bears this year. He played well against some of the top defenses in college football and could be a solid slot receiver. Eddie Royal may have found his backup in Braverman, who can also play special teams as well. This is a low risk pick with very high reward, and based on his college production, this pick could turn out very well for the Bears.

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