Last week's Chicago Bears 2016 First-Round Big Board, which ranks the Top 10 prospects for the 11th overall pick in this year's draft, was as follows:
1. OLB Shaq Lawson
2. QB Paxton Lynch
3. OLB Leonard Floyd
4. CB William Jackson
5. CB Eli Apple
6. DT A'Shawn Robinson
7. OT Jack Conklin
8. DT Sheldon Rankins
9. LB Darron Lee
10. DT Jarran Reed
The 2016 NFL Draft begins in eight days and a lot has changed since last week's Big Board. The Rams traded with the Titans for the first overall pick in the draft, while today the Eagles traded with the Browns for the second overall pick in the draft.
It's clear the Rams and Eagles, both of whom have serious issues at quarterback, will be selecting California's Jared Goff and North Dakota State's Carson Wentz with the first two picks. Yet unlike the Titans, the Browns remain in the Top 10, which creates a lot of interesting "what-if" scenarios.
Throughout this pre-draft process, we've worked under the assumption that the following seven players are locks to come off the board in the Top 10:
QB Jared Goff
QB Carson Wentz
DE Joey Bosa
DE DeForest Buckner
OT Laremy Tunsil
S Jalen Ramsey
LB Myles Jack
Yet the two trades, as well as some recent rumors, have shaken up our preconceived notion of how the Top 10 will play out. Specifically, will Memphis QB Paxton Lynch climb into the Top 10?
Lynch is widely considered the third best passer in this year's class. He's a project but one with considerable upside. Many believe that if Lynch hits his ceiling, he'll be a better pro quarterback than both Goff and Wentz.
The Browns have RGIII but may still be in the market for a long-term signal caller like Lynch, while the 49ers could be in play as well at 7th overall. Heck, even the Cowboys might give Lynch consideration at 4th overall.
Right now, it appears likely that Lynch will be off the board when the Bears pick at 11th overall.
Also worth mentioning is a recent report on Myles Jack's knee, which an anonymous source said was a "time bomb" and that his career will be short-lived in the NFL. Other reports have refuted that ominous Tweet but there's a legitimate chance that concerns around Jack's knee could precipitate a fall out of the Top 10.
The same could be said for Joey Bosa, as some teams have soured on him due to his off-field partying habits at Ohio State.
Bottom line: no one really knows how the Top 10 will shake out next Thursday night.
With that in mind, let's take Lynch off the board and insert Jack and Bosa into the pool of potential prospects for the Bears in the first round. We excluded Ronnie Stanley, Ezekiel Elliott and Vernon Hargreaves last week, assuming they would round out the Top 10, but we'll reinsert them this week.
Here then is our third version of the BR Big Board.
10. OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia
Floyd is a long, athletic speed rusher who could play multiple positions in Chicago's 3-4 defense. He can turn the corner as a pass rusher or line up at middle linebacker and chase down ball carriers. Floyd has been high on this list for most of the draft process but concerns about his tendency to run around blocks, which was a major problem with former first rounder Shea McClellin, caused him to fall.
9. CB Eli Apple, Ohio State
Apple has size (6-1, 199) and playmaking ability, as well as very good speed. A two-year starter for the Buckeyes, Apple is an aggressive defender in man coverage, while showing good quickness and awareness in zone sets. He has the experience and athletic tools to be a No. 1 corner for the Bears next season, which would fill a huge hole in Chicago's secondary.
8. DT Jarran Reed, Alabama
Reed (6-3, 307) is a smaller version of current Bears defensive lineman Eddie Goldman. Reed can play either nose tackle or 5-technique, where his ability to two-gap at the point of attack would be an immediate boost to Chicago's run defense. He's not much of a pass rusher but Reed has the run-stopping ability to warrant a first-round pick.
7. CB William Jackson, Houston
Jackson has very good NFL size (6-0, 189) and blazing speed (4.37 40-yard dash). He led the nation in passes defended last season (23), showcasing his ability as a lock-down corner. Jackson didn't play against top-tier competition at Houston, which is a concern, but in terms of production, size, confidence and athleticism, he checks off all the boxes. Jackson is a long shot for the Bears at 11 but he has arguably the highest upside of any cornerback in this year's class.
6. DE Joe Bosa, Ohio State
In 2014, Bosa led the Big Ten with 21 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. His 2015 season was relatively disappointing - he was suspended the first game for violating team rules and finished with just 5.0 sacks - but Bosa is a bona fide NFL defender with ideal size (6-5, 26(), bulk and strength. He has a powerful bull rush and active pass-rush hands. He didn't stand out at the combine and his ceiling isn't very high but Bosa is a safe, Day-1 NFL starter. For the Bears he'd play OLB, which isn't his ideal position. That, along with his off-field concerns, doesn't make Bosa an ideal fit in Chicago.
5. OLB Shaq Lawson, Clemson
Lawson was a man among boys last season, totaling 23.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks. He has NFL size (6-3, 26) and plays with grown-man power. He can rush the passer from a two-point stance and has the ability bend and collapse the pocket off the edge. He also has the strength to put his hand in the dirt and stack against opposing rushing attacks. Of all the top five players on this list, Lawson is most likely to be available to the Bears at 11th overall and would be one of the safest picks GM Ryan Pace could make.
4. CB Vernon Hargreaves, Florida
Hargreaves is a quick-twitch athlete who closes ground in a hurry. He's outstanding in zone coverage, where he can see the entire field and use his top-tier anticipation. He has great instincts in man sets and mirrors receivers very well. He's also a willing tackler in run support, although his technique wanes at times. Hargreaves doesn't have ideal size (5-10, 204) or speed (4.50) but he's arguably the most NFL-ready cornerback in this year's class.
3. RB Ezekiel Elliott, Ohio State
Analysts have recently compared Elliott to Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson. That's high praise for one of the most complete running backs to enter the league in years. Elliott has elite change-of-direction ability and can plow over defenders when necessary. He has good size (6-0, 225) and speed (4.47) and solid hands out of the backfield. Elliott has the makings of a Day-1 workhorse running back in the NFL. The Bears don't have a major need at running back but if Elliott falls, the team could pair him with Jeremy Langford to create one of the best one-two rushing attacks in the league.
2. OT Ronnie Stanley, Notre Dame
Stanley was a three-year starter for the Irish who could've been a Top 10 pick last year but chose to return to South Bend for his senior season. Somehow, some still question his passion for the game, but his talent is undeniable. Stanley has elite foot quickness and the ability to effortlessly mirror edge rushers. He's not elite run blocker but Stanley could be a mainstay at left tackle in Chicago for the next decade.
1. LB Myles Jack, UCLA
The Bears recently had a private meeting with Jack, ostensibly to get a look at his knee. If he was cleared by the medical staff and he falls to 11th overall, Jack is just too good for Pace to pass up. He's an elite athlete in every phase of the game. He has unbelievable burst and change-of-direction ability. He can chase sideline to sideline and line up in man coverage against opposing tight ends and running backs. His power and explosiveness at the point of attack is unreal. Jack even played running back for the Bruins. He's a remarkable athlete who does everything well, which includes rushing the passer in sub sets. The Bears invested heavily in two inside linebackers this off-season yet Jerrell Freeman is 30 and not a serious long-term option. Coordinator Vic Fangio would find a way to make the most of all that talent by utilizing Jack's versatility. Inside linebacker isn't a position of need but Jack, assuming he's healthy, could take Chicago's defense to the next level.null