Author Twitter: @RobertZeglinski
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A balanced free agency period leads the Bears to fill out their roster with a similarly balanced draft of star impact and depth.
First round, No. 8 overall: Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
Of every player in this draft, Smith may have the highest floor in terms of impact. A player that might be the best linebacking prospect in years fits the modern archetype of the position, given his speed and power playing from sideline to sideline. Smith makes ideal sense for the Bears as he perfectly fits in line with their rich tradition at linebacker.
Second round, No. 39 overall: James Washington, WR, Oklahoma State
Some have decried the 2017 Biletnikoff Award winner (awarded to college football’s best receiver) in Washington as someone that mostly only runs vertical routes (including yours truly). That description is a bit limiting though considering how the Bears would use the quick weapon in space. A strong week Senior Bowl vaulted Washington into the early Day 2 conversation and makes Chicago take the investment into the stretch-the-field compliment needed next to Cameron Meredith. Mitchell Trubisky to Washington has an admitted nice ring to it.
Fourth round, No. 107 overall: Chad Thomas, Edge, Miami
Using valued draft capital on Thomas means believing in his tremendous physical tools at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds and flashes of ability that are easily viewable. Because purely in college, Thomas was anything but consistently productive enough (10 total career sacks in four seasons at Miami) to be viewed as a future superstar in the big leagues. But the draft and NFL projections work differently and Thomas is exactly the malleable edge player Bears’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio would love to coach up.
Fourth round, No. 117 overall: Donte Jackson, CB, LSU
There are some real blazing fast talents on the outside on both sides of the ball in this year’s draft class. When it comes to defensive backs, Jackson is this year’s primary speed demon. What he lacks in ideal size at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, Jackson makes up for with tremendous athleticism and a tenacity to be in on every play. Jackson is a player that can cover someone else’s mistake from the other side of the field that the Bears don’t hesitate to grab.
Fifth round, No. 147 overall: Durham Smythe, TE, Notre Dame
The Bears need a solid No. 2 tight end behind Adam Shaheen. While the 2018 class doesn’t nearly match the historic 2017 group, there is depth to be had in the later rounds. Smythe is one of these guys as a reliable pass catcher and technically sound blocker. Chicago taking Smythe offers the team the ability to run successful multi-tight end packages under head coach Matt Nagy.
Sixth round, No. 184 overall: Kalen Ballage, RB, Arizona State
Ballage is a tailback receiving a lot of sleeper hype as he draws comparisons to Cardinals’ all-around superstar David Johnson. Hype he better live up to considering his college production was consistent, but not prolific. The frame and skill-set is similar enough to see the talent, however. For the Bears, Ballage’s ability as both a runner and natural receiver adds a quality dimension behind Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen. You can never have too many tailbacks giving each other spells and coming at a defense in waves.
Seventh round, No. 224 overall: Arrion Springs, CB, Oregon
Cornerback is a place where depth is wise to possess. Developmental players waiting in the wings are often stashed here. Springs, a talented but raw player with tools, joins a rising Bears secondary and is given time to learn the rigors of football at it’s highest level.