After an active first three-plus weeks of free agency, first year general manager Ryan Pace has put the Chicago Bears into a position to truly take the Best Player Available (BPA) in the 2015 NFL Draft. All but three of the team’s signings to date have been one-year “prove-it” type deals.
With the first two waves of free agency over, Pace is officially bargain hunting for low-risk deals. Although there are no big holes on the roster, there are many spots to improve and that’s just what Pace has set himself up to do.
Round 1 (7th overall)
There are many different ways the board can fall for the Bears but if quarterback Marcus Mariota goes within the first three picks, Oakland could be in a great position to pick up defensive lineman Leonard Williams with the fourth overall pick. After Oakland there is no team probable to take a receiver before Chicago’s pick at seventh overall.
Cooper would be the ultimate compliment to Alshon Jeffery. Cooper ran a 4.31 at the combine and showed his flashy playmaking ability during his three years at Alabama. At 6-1, the 21-year-old doesn’t have elite size but could still blossom into a true No. 1 or elite No. 2 receiver in a very short time.
Pro Comparison: Jordy Nelson
Round 2 (39th overall)
This pick could go a number of different ways, especially with a stockpile of cornerbacks more than six-feet tall but ultimately a top offensive tackle is bound to fall as well. Other names such as T.J. Clemmings, Cedric Ogbhuei, D.J. Humphries or possibly Andrus Peat could fall instead, but Fisher is still on the raw side and most likely to be available at 39th overall.
Fisher shows the same physical traits as current all-pro guard Kyle Long, albeit with a slightly smaller upside. Ultimately, the 6-6 tackle may not have to play left tackle at the next level. Fisher and Long could turn Chicago’s right side of the line into one of the best in the league.
Pro Comparison: Kyle Long
Round 3 (71st overall)
It’s no secret the Bears need help at the safety position, even with the signing of Antrel Rolle. Last year’s fourth-round pick Brock Vereen showed flashes last year but may be better suited for a hybrid role, playing both safety and slot corner.
Smith has all of the ideal traits for a free safety, except size. At just 5-11, he lacks height but has a tendency to play bigger than his measurables show. He does possess good ball skills and great leaping ability, which somewhat makes up for his lack in size. He would be a perfect fit for Fangio’s center-fielder role.
Pro Comparison: Marcus Gilchrist
Round 4 (106th overall)
After making the switch to a 3-4 front, Vic Fangio and the Bears new-look defense have been busy in the market for defensive lineman. They have already added Ray McDonald and Jarvis Jenkins but would benefit from adding a talent like Anderson to rotate this upcoming year.
Anderson is an intriguing prospect that could help the team’s transition to a 3-4 front. At 6-6, he has great length and is pushing 300 pounds. To go with his size, Anderson had 15 tackles-for-loss and 8.5 sacks in 2014. The biggest complaints from scouts are his tight hips and slow feet.
Round 5 (142nd overall)
With the recent release of 13-year offensive lineman Roberto Garza and the stop-gap signing of Will Montgomery, the team is in need of a long-term solution. With the addition of Montgomery, the team isn’t in dire need of a Day 1 starter but needs to have a capable replacement waiting in the wings.
Gallik isn’t an eye-opening pick but he provides good value at the position. He isn’t the biggest player on the field or the most athletic but that did not stop him from starting 41 games over his college career. He was also a part of a line that ranked 13th in the nation in rushing yards. He fits the system well.
Round 6 (183rd overall)
With the recent signings of cornerbacks Alan Ball and Sherrick McManis, the Bears are essentially set at the position, barring injury, in 2015. With Fuller, Jennings and Ball expected to start in sub-packages, McManis, Al Louis-Jean and Demontre Hurst will battle for playing time but the bottom end of the depth chart is not set.
Diggs is only 5-9 but he does possess good ball skills and overall instincts as a slot corner. If developed properly, he has the ceiling to become a good nickelback and with Chicago’s last pick, he provides very good value.
Aaron Leming has years of salary cap knowledge and has written for Rant Sports, Bears Draft On Tap, and Cover 32. He is a regular contributor to Bear Report and Bear Report Magazine.