Bears go defensive on day three of NFL Draft

Bears fourth-round pick, OLB Joel Iyiegbuniwe of Western Kentucky.

Bears fourth-round pick, OLB Joel Iyiegbuniwe of Western Kentucky.

The Chicago Bears went the defensive route Saturday as the NFL Draft concluded. With picks in each round (four through seven), the Bears chose defensive players on three of the four picks.

Surprising many observers, the Bears selected speedy and athletic outside linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe of Western Kentucky with their fourth-round (115th overall) pick. The 6-1, 230 pound Iyiegbuniwe was unheralded throughout the draft process, but ran well at the NFL combine and at his pro day, raising interest from scouts.  His tape confirmed a run and hit prospect who is willing to throw his body around and displays the suddenness to impact at the next level.  Iyiegbuniwe was a tackling machine with the Hilltoppers, collecting 117 overall stops, including 11.5 for loss.

The defensive trend continued in the fifth and sixth-rounds. The Bears chose underrated DT Bilal Nichols from Delaware. Nichols 2017 season wasn’t as impressive as 2016, but the Blue Hens shifted defensive schemes and asked Nichols to occupy blockers in a “read and react” strategy rather than attack.  The 6-4, 300 pound Nichols is at his best where he can utilize his initial get off and quickness to attack upfield. He demonstrated those traits in the post-season, earning favorable reviews at both the Shrine game and Senior Bowl.  He’ll be counted on in Chicago to replace the departed Mitch Unrein, who signed in free agency with Tampa. READ MORE

Bears supplement offense with adds of Daniels, Miller

WR Anthony Miller, Memphis

WR Anthony Miller, Memphis

The Chicago Bears added Iowa C James Daniels and Memphis WR Anthony Miller during Friday night’s second-round of the NFL Draft.

Daniels was acquired with the original selection of Chicago, the 39th overall pick.  The two-year starter is a skilled technician with sound movement skills and hand placement.  A plug and play lineman, he can lock onto defenders and drive them backwards, yet is solid in pass protection, mirroring defenders. Daniels projects to center but has the versatility, should the Bears prefer, to slide over to Guard.

One of the top centers in the collegiate talent pool and expected to go in the first round, Daniels gives the Bears the flexibility to mix/match with Cody Whitehair.  Better positioned at guard, where he can utilize his full skill set and power, Whitehair would make an excellent mentor for Danels. READ MORE

Bears select rangy LB Smith with first-round pick


Bears first-round pick, LB Roquan Smith of Georgia.

Bears first-round pick, LB Roquan Smith of Georgia

After adding offensive skill position players during free agency, the Chicago Bears turned to bolstering its defense with the first-round selection of Georgia LB Roquan Smith during Thursday night’s NFL Draft.

Smith, 6-1, 225, bypassed his senior year to enter the draft after spearheading the Bulldogs attack unit during a season that culminated with a appearance in the National Championship game. He’s a productive and athletic defender with quick feet and keen instincts who’s always around the football. Smith’s sideline-to sideline playmaking skills earned him high marks in evaluator’s eyes, as he routinely sheds the trash and locates the ball.

Undersized by traditional NFL standards, Smith fits the mold of the modern NFL linebacker by mixing speed, footwork, and high football intelligence to make up for his lack of natural bulk. He rates as one of the better coverage linebackers to come out in some time, demonstrating an ability to run and mirror tight ends and backs. READ MORE