It's been a hell of an off-season for the Bears so far. I should say that Poles has built up so much trust equity with me that I will be good with whomever he ultimately decides to select with their first pick. Poles does in fact know more about football than me.
A ton has been made about the Bears' need to protect Justin Fields and surround him with weapons. That is definitely true and it has been a focus of the off-season. What I don't quite understand is why the offense is more of a talking point that the defense. The defense finished DEAD last in points allowed last year. All those games where Justin Fields was generating 30+ points per game that ended up as losses were losses because the Bears couldn't stop anyone. I think that side of the ball is still a lot further away from being competent than the offense.
The offense is basically set
WR: Moore, Mooney, Claypool
RB: Herbert, Foreman
TE: Kmet, Tonyan
The offensive line is the unit that still needs to be solidified, but that group is looking solid too. The interior looks set with Nate Davis, Whitehair moving to center, and Teven Jenkins. What the Bears do on draft day comes down to what they think about Braxton Jones.
I think perhaps I am more optimistic about Jones than many. We are talking about a rookie coming in from Southern Utah who played EVERY SINGLE SNAP THE ENTIRE SEASON. That is an impressive feat just by itself. There were games where he certainly looked like a rookie and was overmatched. The Washington game sticks out in my memory. Probably the Jets game too. There were other games where he definitely looked like a capable starting NFL left tackle.
I would expect some improvement from Jones in year 1 to year 2. A full offseason in the Bears strength program. You'd hope that he'd also work on technique in pass protection and will just feel more comfortable in year 2 after doing the insane jump from the Big Sky Conference to the NFL. I don't think it's unfathomable that Jones could be capable of holding down the blindside for a good NFL team.
This blog is more about trying to get inside Poles' brain than using my own. Poles always talks about drafting premium positions. Left tackle is certainly a premium position. Is Right Tackle viewed by him the same way? He is on the record with saying that the cornerback definitely is. When you look at that position you could make an argument that it is the weakest on the team. I really like Jaylon Johnson, but the jury is definitely still out on Kyler Gordon and people say he projects more as a nickel. Vildor just ain't it. The Bears need help there and they didn't do anything at that position in free agency.
That brings me to Devon Witherspoon from Illinois
The guy plays with an infectious intensity. He is an asset in the run game, but also grades out extremely high in man coverage per PFF. Nickel has become the new base in today's NFL. You need corners like this to have a good defense. Witherspoon looks like a guy who can help you in every situation on every down. It allows Gordon to be the nickel. A secondary with Johnson, Jackson, Brisker, Witherspoon, and Gordon has some serious potential.
You win in the trenches in the NFL. The Bears added two DLs in free agency. They still need more help there. If the Bears want to grab Skronski at 9 and shift Jones over to RT that would be fine with me, but my gut says that they're better off adding a CB with elite potential and finding a RT later in the draft. Maybe that North Dakota kid Cody Mauch.
The Bears aren't that far away from having a pretty good looking group of starters on both sides. I am fine with Skronski or Witherspoon. I am also bullish on Braxton Jones which makes drafting a stud corner more plausible in my opinion and adding a body at RT later. Bear Down.