Last week's Chicago Bears First-Round Big Board, which ranks the Top 10 prospects for the 11th overall pick in this year's draft, was as follows:
1) OT Ronnie Stanley
2) CB Vernon Hargreaves
3) RB Ezekiel Elliott
4) OLB Shaq Lawson
5) OT Jack Conklin
6) OLB Leonard Floyd
7) CB Eli Apple
8) DT Sheldon Rankins
9) CB William Jackson III
10) QB Paxton Lynch
With the draft just a few weeks away, little has changed since posting the last Big Board. There have been a number of pro days but overall, any changes to the Top 10 list will be based on film study, discussions with colleagues, and further evaluation of Chicago's roster and positional priorities.
This project assumes the following seven players will be off the board when the Bears pick in the first round:
OT Laremy Tunsil
DB Jalen Ramsey
DE Joey Bosa
LB Myles Jack
QB Jared Goff
DE DeForest Buckner
QB Carson Wentz
Beyond those seven, it's anyone's guess how the draft will play out. If any player on this list falls, the Bears will moonwalk to the podium to draft him.
The top remaining players are RB Ezekiel Elliott, OT Ronnie Stanley and CB Vernon Hargreaves. All three would be solid selections for the Bears.
For this version of the Big Board, let's assume Elliott, Stanley and Hargreaves are selected with picks 8-10.
With that in mind, here is the second installment of my Bears First-Round Big Board heading into the 2016 NFL Draft.
10. DT Jarran Reed, Alabama
Reed is a big-bodied (6-3, 307) run stuffer who could play nose tackle or 5-technique in Chicago's base 3-4 defense. He won't offer much as a pass rusher but his stoutness and positional versatility against the run would make him a plug-and-play option for Chicago's defensive line.
9. LB Darron Lee, Ohio State
Lee is one of the fastest linebackers in this year's class (4.47 40-yard dash) with outstanding burst, explosiveness and quickness (35.5 vertical jump, 11-1 broad jump, 4.20 short shuttle). He's smaller than desired (6-1, 232) but his playing speed is NFL-ready. He's probably best fit at OLB in a 4-3 but his coverage ability would give him value under Bears coordinator Vic Fangio his rookie season. If he bulks up and develops some more power in his game, Lee can be an effective three-down starter at 3-4 ILB. The Bears already have two solid ILB options but Lee would give the defense the speed it lacks, which cannot be overstated. Fangio would find a way to keep his best talent on the field.
8. DT Sheldon Rankins, Louisville
Rankins is a one-gap defensive tackle who is explosive and powerful off the ball and at the point of attack. He two-gapped well at Louisville but he doesn't have the size (6-1, 299) to play in base sets for the Bears. Yet in nickel sets, which Fangio runs more than 50 percent of the time, Rankins would have a lot of value as a penetrating interior rusher who can collapse the pocket in the face of opposing quarterbacks.
7. OT Jack Conklin, Michigan State
Conklin is an experienced three-year starter who is technically sound. He can push the pile as a run blocker and has the athleticism to play left tackle in the NFL. He has the makings of a solid 10-year offensive tackle in the NFL. If the Bears believe he can be successful on the left edge, and Stanley is off the board, Conklin would make a solid addition to Chicago's offensive line.
6. DT A'Shawn Robinson, Alabama
Robinson is a superior run stuffer. He's a pure two-gap nose tackle or 5-tech who, lined up next to Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks, would put the final touches on a stellar run-stopping defensive line. Robinson won't be good for more than a handful of sacks every year but he consistently bent pocket interiors for the Tide, which has value even if he's not actually getting to the quarterback. That, combined with his run-stopping prowess, would make Robinson a relatively safe pick at 11th overall.
5. CB Eli Apple, Ohio State
Apple has elite NFL size (6-1, 199) and speed (4.40). A two-year starter for the Buckeyes, Apple has the length and strength to match up against the big class of NFL wide receivers. He attacks balls in the air and has the confidence to sit on an island in press coverage. The Bears have a serious need at cornerback and if Hargreaves has been drafted, Apple could have an immediate impact in Chicago's secondary.
4. CB William Jackson, Houston
Jackson has good size (6-0, 189) and top-tier speed (4.37 at the combine, 4.32 at his pro day). He was also exceptionally productive for Houston, leading the nation in passes defended (23) last year. He's a ball hawk who has big-play potential every time the ball is thrown his way. He needs to get stronger and may not be as NFL-ready as Apple but Jackson has more upside. He's a risky pick and there are many who feel he's a borderline first rounder, but if the Bears fall in love with Jackson's high ceiling, GM Ryan Pace could pull the trigger on a player many teams feel is the best corner in this class.
3. OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia
Floyd is a speed rusher who played multiple positions for the Bulldogs, including 3-4 OLB, 4-3 DE and 3-4 ILB. He has the quickness and athleticism to turn the corner, and he's all-day aggressive. He has ideal length (6-6, 244 - 33 1/8-inch arms) and his positional versatility would give Fangio even more flexibility in play design. Floyd isn't as big as Chicago's other outside linebackers and may struggle to set the edge against the run but his quickness, size and ability to play multiple positions would give the Bears a legitimate weapon on defense, one who would instantly improve the unit's overall speed.
2. QB Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Lynch makes the biggest jump in this week's Big Board, moving from 10th to 2nd. I did extensive film study on Lynch last week and it became clear that his upside might make it impossible for the Bears to pass on him. Lynch is not ready to play right away, which is concerning with the 11th overall pick, yet the Bears have the luxury of sitting Lynch for a year or two behind Jay Cutler, allowing the 22-year-old to develop. Lynch is a risk but he's a player with serious upside at the most important position on the field. Quarterbacks with his size (6-7, 245), arm strength (he'd have no problem throwing in Chicago's November wind) and athleticism (he can hurts defenses with his legs) don't come around very often. Granted it might take time but if Lynch ever reaches his ceiling, he could be special.
1. OLB Shaq Lawson, Clemson
Lawson is arguably the safest pick outside of the consensus Top 10. He's a physical player with the size (6-3, 269) and strength to play outside linebacker in base sets and defensive end in sub formations for the Bears. He had 25.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks last season, giving a glimpse at his potential as a playmaker against both the run and the pass. Lawson can turn the corner off the edge and he can two-gap against the run. He's a clone of Pernell McPhee and brings the same type of violence to the field. Lawson is a Day-1 starter who would put the final touches on a revamped defensive front seven in Chicago. To me, he's a can't-miss prospect who can be a foundational piece for the Bears' defense going forward.null