The 2016 NFL Draft was one of the more interesting selection processes in recent memory, especially for the Chicago Bears. Second year general manager Ryan Pace started the festivities off by trading into the Top 10 in the first round, which set the tone for a draft in which he executed four total trades.
Pace's plan appears clear at this point: Draft the best player available on their board. Some of these picks were not sexy and others were picks that will slide behind aging starters, yet all can be considered value selections. In addition, Pace was able to acquire through trade an extra fourth rounder in the 2017 NFL Draft.
9th Overall (From Buccaneers): OLB Leonard Floyd (Georgia)
Pace set the tone early by trading up two slots to get Floyd. In the process, the Bears gave up their 11th overall pick and their first fourth-round pick.
Floyd is one of the biggest “boom or bust” prospects in the entire draft but the Bears are very high on him. He has great height and good length but his biggest knock is his frame, which is extremely lanky, even after gaining close to 10 pounds since his senior year.
Floyd is probably not going to be a Day 1 starter but he will see his fair share of snaps, especially in sub-packages on passing downs, while he bulks up and develops as an overall outside linebacker.
56th Overall (From Seahawks): OL Cody Whitehair (Kansas State)
Chicago's second round was even more eventful than the first. The team was originally slotted to pick at 41st overall when they traded down to 49th overall with the Buffalo Bills. They gained 2016 and 2017 fourth-round picks in the process.
The Green Bay Packers traded up one pick in front of them to take OT Jason Spriggs - whom a source told me was the Bears' pick had he made it to 49th overall.
The Bears then traded down again with the Seattle Seahawks to 56th overall and picked up their third and final fourth-round pick, where they eventually took Whitehair.
Whitehair was projected as a late first-round pick due to his rock-solid status as an interior offensive linemen, as well as his versatility. He played left tackle his final two seasons at Kansas State but also saw time at every position outside of center.
He will play inside at the next level for the Bears and is expected to push for a starting spot, most likely at left guard. Biggest question remains, what happens to Matt Slauson and/or Hroniss Grasu with Whitehair now on board?
72nd Overall: DL Jonathan Bullard (Florida)
Once projected as one of the top interior defensive linemen in the draft, Bullard slid into the third round. With the Bears in the market for another defensive lineman, it was a match made in heaven.
Bullard is a stout run defender, even at just 285 pounds, and has ideal length and height. Despite being a little smaller than most NFL 5-technique defensive ends, he is a better fit in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s system than most think. He shares similar size to former 49ers all-pro defensive lineman Justin Smith.
Bullard is still somewhat of a work in progress, especially as a pass rusher, but with 17.5 tackles for loss and 6 sacks last season, the upside is more than there, especially as a pass rusher.
Bullard looks like the last piece to a completely revamped front seven.
113th Overall: (From Rams) LB Nick Kwiatkowski (West Virginia)
Pace kicked off Day 3 with his fourth and final trade of the draft, moving up four spot in the fourth round to grab Kwiatkowsk, yet another versatile player for Fangio’s defensive system.
Kwiatkowski was widely rated as a third-round prospect, so once again it appears the Bears got good value with the pick, even though they gave up the 6th-round pick they received from the Jared Allen trade to the Panthers last year.
He projects more as a MIKE inside linebacker but did play safety for most of his football career, until his move to linebacker three years ago. He doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s a smash-mouth football player that has the ability to cover and make a Day 1 impact on special teams.
124th Overall: S Deon Bush (University of Miami)
Bush was the start of a big defensive back run by the Bears. Most had wondered when the Bears would finally take a defensive back and with their second pick in the 4th round they took Bush, whose draft grades ranged from the 3rd to 6th round.
It’s important to remember that after the initial crop of defensive backs, a lot of these grades can be very subjective, especially because of how certain teams value players due to system fit, and overall size and length.
Bush is a well-rounded safety but some worry about his coverage ability at the next level. He compares favorably to Dashon Goldson, a former 49ers safety who played under Fangio.
127th Overall: DB Deiondre’ Hall (Northern Iowa)
Hall happens to be the first small-school player Pace has taken during his tenure with the Bears.
At 6-2 and with 34-inch arms, it’s not hard to see why Fangio would love a player like this, even if he is raw. Hall is a player that spent most of his time at cornerback but may project better as a safety at the next level.
He didn’t run well in his pre-draft workouts but he has striking similarities to former Bears corner Charles Tillman. Hall admitted during his post-draft interview that Tillman was a player he models his game after.
There’s no real way to tell where Hall will play just yet, but the trend of versatility, length and upside continued with this pick.
150th Overall: RB Jordan Howard (University of Indiana)
After missing out on restricted free agent C.J. Anderson and watching Ezekiel Elliott go 4th overall to the Dallas Cowboys, the Bears waited out the rest of the running back class and it paid off.
Howard is a big (6-0, 23) physical runner that will compete with Jeremy Langford and Kadeem Carey for the featured back role in what is expected to be a committee backfield.
He was a projected as a third-round pick, so Howard presents quite a bit of value in the fifth round. In 2015, he tallied 1,213 yards and 9 touchdowns. In the six games he played 20 snaps or more, he averaged 181 yards per game.
After the free-agent additions on the offensive line, as well as Whitehair in the second round, the Bears have quietly improved their entire running attack and should have a dynamic group heading into the 2016 season.
185th Overall: S DeAndre Houston-Carson (William & Mary)
Houston-Carson wrapped up the team's defensive back run and is yet another prototypical Fangio player. Projected as a third- or fourth-round pick and regarded as a Top 5 safety by some, he somehow fell into the sixth, possibly because of his small-school status.
Houston was named a consensus All-American last season and finished his collegiate career with 293 tackles, 10 interceptions and 9 special teams blocks.
If his size and production translates to the pro level, he may be one of the bigger steals in the draft.
For the time being, he should provide excellent special teams value, with a very high ceiling as a developmental safety.
230th Overall: WR Daniel Braverman (Western Michigan)
Braverman rounded out a strong draft class while also giving the Bears even more depth at receiver.
At 5-10, 177 he’s not going to impress anyone physically but anyone who has seen him play knows what type of player he is. He’s a grinder who is extremely quick and could be a very good slot receiver in the pros.
Once again, Pace was able to get a very good value, as Braveman was projected as a fourth-round pick by many.
Overall Grade and Overview
The Bears executed four trades this year, which included two trades up and two trades down.
Pace entered the draft with a pick in each round, including two fourth rounders and two sixth rounders. When all was said and done, he turned a sixth rounder into two more fourth rounders. The team also entered the draft with multiple holes on the roster, especially on the defensive side of the ball. After six defensive picks, the defense should have much more talent and overall speed.
There aren’t too many groundbreaking names on paper but all together, the Bears were able to fill many needs with value picks, while also picking up a fourth-round pick in next year's draft.