The Chicago Bears have one pick in each of the first six rounds of the 2015 NFL Draft. The Bears own the fifth-round pick of the New York Jets, acquired in the Brandon Marshall trade. Chicago traded its own fifth-round pick to the Denver Broncos in last year’s draft to move back into the fourth round for S Brock Vereen.
Along with Marshall, the Bears also sent their seventh-round pick to the Jets.
Chicago has the seventh pick in each round. Through the first three rounds, they have the 7th, 39th and 71st overall picks.
With that out of the way, here is our first set of projections for the Bears’ six picks in 2015.
Many believe the Bears should target a pass rusher with the No. 7 overall pick. Yet the roster is already loaded with potential edge rushers.
If the Bears don’t add a single outside linebacker from now until training camp, they will still head to Bourbonnais with Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Pernell McPhee, Shea McClellin, Christian Jones, David Bass and Cornelius Washington on the roster. That’s potentially eight players vying for four roster spots.
Does it make sense to add another body to that mix when cornerback is dangerously thin?
Beyond that, it’s nothing but hopefuls: Demontre Hurst, Al Louis-Jean and Terrance Mitchell. Realistically, cornerback and inside linebacker are the thinnest positions on the roster, and there are no ILBs worth the 7th overall pick.
Waynes is the best cornerback in this draft by a large margin. He’s a shutdown coverage player who excels in man sets, a critical component for a Vic Fangio corner. Waynes is big and extremely fast – he ran a 4.31 40-yard dash at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. In addition, he posted 19 bench-press reps, strength on par with Shea McClellin and Florida OLB prospect Dante Fowler.
With Waynes, the Bears get a lockdown corner who can replace Charles Tillman. Jennings could then move to the slot, where he’d have great value in nickel sets.
There’s still hope for Fuller, who was hurt by a defense that fell apart last season. If Fuller pans out alongside Waynes, the Bears would have a young, strong cornerback duo, which is absolutely necessary in the NFC North against the passing attacks of Green Bay and Detroit.
Beyond Jon Bostic, who himself is still developing, the Bears don’t have a single starter-worthy inside linebacker. It’s possible Jones could fit that role but the undrafted free agent might be better rushing off the edge, something he did his senior season at FSU.
McKinney is a powerful downhill linebacker who carries a big stick. He’s aggressive when attacking opposing linemen and explodes into gaps. He’s an intelligent on-field leader who would provide a jolt to the run defense.
McKinney struggles in coverage and may have to come off the field on passing downs. Additionally, he didn’t test off the charts at the combine. His 16 bench-press reps are of particular concern, so he’ll very likely fall to the second round, where the Bears will be happy to snatch up a plug-and-play inside linebacker.
WR Tre McBride, William & Mary (6-0, 210)
McBride is a solid, dependable receiver with very good hands and a large catch radius. He has good size and he ran a 4.41 at the combine.
He struggled creating separation at the collegiate level, which is why he’s considered a third-round prospect, but McBride has a lot of upside due to a stellar combination of length, speed and pass-catching ability.
He won’t replace Brandon Marshall but he could be a quality fourth option in Chicago’s passing attack immediately, with starter potential down the line.
Anderson isn’t an athletic freak, which is why he’s considered a mid-round pick, but he consistently produces on film. He can anchor at the point of attack, stack and shed, and make plays in the backfield. He’s a team-first athlete who gives full effort and provides on-field leadership.
Anderson has his limitations but he demonstrated very good quickness at the combine, showing well in both the three-cone drill (7.20) and short shuttle (4.19). As a 5-technique in Chicago, he would be great value in the fourth round.
Williams has good size for a nose tackle and plays with a ton of energy. He was dominant at the mid-major level but isn’t overly athletic. There are also concerns about his functional strength.
Williams has upside due to powerful legs and above-average quickness for a defensive tackle of his size. As a rotational 0-technique on first and second down, he’s worth a fifth-round pick.
FB Tyler Varga, Yale (5-11, 222)
Varga was an instinctive collegiate running back who rotated occasionally at fullback. At the Senior Bowl, he showed good pop as a lead blocker. He’s not a polished fullback by any means but his chiseled frame and willingness to give up his body will serve him well in the NFL.
As a core special teams player, Varga has immediate value, while his versatility in the backfield gives him long-term potential on offense.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fifth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter.