First-year head coach Matt Nagy led a revitalized Bears team back to the playoffs in 2018, but can Chicago navigate having little draft capital to contend again next season?
Despite a heartbreaking way to end their season in 2018, the Chicago Bears engineered one of the league’s most impressive turnarounds and look to be a team to reckon with in 2019 and beyond.
One drawback to the Bears’ sudden success is that it cost a good deal of draft capital to get it done, particularly from the trade for superstar Khalil Mack. In fact, the Bears head into the 2019 NFL Draft with the least draft capital of any team in the league. Not only that, but the Bears must content with the fact that they’ll enter free agency with just around $13 million in cap space, per Over The Cap. These are challenges that GM Ryan Pace must successfully navigate in order to keep the Bears in contention next year.
The team has already addressed one potential need with the contract extension of right tackle Bobby Massie, but likely will lose two valuable pieces in their secondary in Bryce Callahan and Adrian Amos. So while it may be a relatively quiet offseason for the Bears, here is how the team could approach the 2019 NFL Draft:
In a draft loaded with talented EDGE prospects but no selections until the third round, the Bears are in a bit of a tough wait-and-see position when it comes to drafting to improve their pass rush.
One name who could be enticing for Chicago in the middle rounds is Oregon’s Jalen Jelks, a player with whom they’ve already met with during the draft process at the Senior Bowl.
Jelks (6-foot-5, 256 pounds) has length for days (34 5/8-inch arms) and while he isn’t one of the more explosive players in the class, he could be a valuable weapon for the Bears from the outside in pass rush situations. While he isn’t the most powerful guy in the world and probably won’t be of much help in the run game, he possesses enough bend and quick-twitch traits to believe in your ability to develop him as a pass rusher.
Jelks had a bit of a disappointing senior season in 2018 for the Ducks after a stellar junior campaign in which he racked up 15.5 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks. If the Bears think they can coach that junior campaign out of him at the NFL level, he could be an excellent third-round pick with most of the elite EDGE prospects already off the board.