Chicago Bears, NFL Draft Retrospective

Chicago Bears 2016 NFL Draft Retrospective

The earliest foundation for the Bears bright future was laid by Ryan Pace back in 2016.

The 2016 NFL Draft was Ryan Pace’s second as Chicago Bears’ general manager. Pace was just scratching the surface of the rebuild. The Bears were coming off a lackluster 2015 campaign, the first under John Fox, where the team finished with a 6-10 record.

The Bears needs were plentiful. Coming off a 2015 draft where first round pick Kevin White had missed his entire rookie season due to an injury, the 2016 draft became even more important for Pace’s rebuild.

The Bears needed help on the offensive line and they needed a reliable pass rusher. There was also clearly a need in the secondary as well. The Bears could have gone any number of ways with their first round pick and subsequent picks of this draft.

Original Grade

Sports Illustrated: B

FanSided: B+

Draft Class

Round 1 (Pick 9)

Leonard Floyd

LB, Georgia

Current Team: Chicago Bears

Floyd has been a solid player for the Bears. He filled a need at the time of the draft. Ryan Pace liked Floyd so much that he traded a fourth round pick to move up a couple spots to secure Floyd once he caught wind that the New York Giants were planning on selecting him one spot prior to the Bears.

It’s tough to say that there was a better selection than Floyd here. There wasn’t a ton of success with the picks that immediately followed Floyd. Based on that information, Floyd was the best pick the Bears could have made at that point.

Floyd doesn’t have the flashiest of statistics, but the second half of 2018 was the best of his career. Through three seasons (and 38 games played) Floyd has amassed:

  • 15.5 sacks
  • 114 tackles
  • 23 tackles for loss
  • 32 QB hits
  • 2 safeties
  • 8 passes defended
  • 3 fumble recoveries
  • 1 defensive touchdown

Round 2 (Pick 56)

Cody Whtiehair

OG, Kansas State

Current Team: Chicago Bears

Whitehair has proven to be a very solid selection for the Bears. The Bears needed interior offensive line help and Whitehair proved his value right out of the gate. Whitehair was slated to be starting at guard for the Bears, but 2015 3rd round pick Hroniss Grasu was slated to start at center, but he tore his ACL during training camp and the Bears needed a center.

Whitehair moved over to center, a position he never played prior to his rookie season and did an excellent job. He made the all-rookie squad in his first season and continued to excel over his first three seasons. In 2018, Whitehair was named to the Pro Bowl and is expected to receive a contract extension this summer.

It’s hard to argue a better selection than a Pro Bowl caliber lineman in the second round. Not to mention Whitehair hasn’t missed a game, starting in all 49 games (including playoffs) of his three year career.

Round 3 (Pick 72)

Jonathan Bullard

DT, Florida

Current Team: Chicago Bears

Bullard can’t be considered a successful draft pick. Bullard received a lot of hype out of the gate. Many experts considered this one of the top value picks of the draft and Bullard looked very good during the preseason.

His regular season performances have never really mirrored what he flashed during the preseason early in his career. While there weren’t any superstars the Bears missed out on, there were plenty of players taken after Bullard that have had far better careers. Some of those players include Austin Hooper, Jason Hargrave and Joe Schobert.

Bullard’s 2019 season will most likely be his last one in Chicago as his rookie contract expires. Throughout his Bears’ career, he’s appeared in 46 regular season games, starting in 5.

Round 4 (Pick 113)

Nick Kwiatkoski

LB, West Virginia

Current Team: Chicago Bears

Plenty of Chicagoans were excited for the selection of Kwiatkoski as he had a good sounding Polish name that fit right into the type of attitude that Chicagoans love. The Bears hoped that Kwiatkoski would eventually develop into a starting inside linebacker next to Danny Trevathan, and while that didn’t work, he has become a solid rotational linebacker.

Kwiatkoski has proven to be a solid run stopper but struggles in pass coverage. He was a solid fourth round selection, the argument could be made that De’Vondre Campbell would have been a better selection, but his performance hasn’t been lightyears better than Kwiatkoski.

Round 4 (Pick 124)

Deon Bush

S, Miami

Current Team: Chicago Bears

It’s been three years and the Bears still aren’t certain what they have in Bush. They certainly don’t have a star defensive back, but they may have a serviceable one.

After seeing a little playing time as a rookie, Bush has found himself behind Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson and hasn’t seen much playing time on defense. Bush enters the final year of his rookie contract as the Bears third safety and if there are any injuries to Jackson or newcomer HaHa Clinton-Dix, Bush will be the man slated to fill in.

Round 4 (Pick 127)

Deiondre’ Hall

S, Northern Iowa

Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Hall is the first draft selection from 2016 that is no longer on the team. Hall showed some flashes at corner as a rookie, but the Bears didn’t see it as a fit for him and moved him to safety during his sophomore season.

He has struggled with injuries and some off-the-field issues during his time in Chicago. After two seasons, the Bears shipped Hall to the Philadelphia Eagles for a seventh round pick.

Round 5 (Pick 150)

Jordan Howard

RB, Indiana

Current Team: Philadelphia Eagles

Howard was an absolute steal as a fifth round pick for Ryan Pace. The Bears spent a fourth round pick on Jeremy Langford the year prior, and Howard looked like he could complement Langford well. Langford could be more of a runner outside the tackles and pass catcher while Howard would focus more inside the tackles.

Langford struggled early and when Howard finally got the nod as the starting back, he never looked back. Howard became the feature back for Chicago over the past three seasons. Howard struggled to fit in Matt Nagy’s system in 2018 but that shouldn’t detract his success he had during his first two seasons in Chicago.

Round 6 (Pick 185)

DeAndre Houston-Carson

CB, William & Mary

Current Team: Chicago Bears

As sixth round picks go, Houston-Carson was a solid selection. He spent the last three seasons on the team become a special teams standout. Houston-Carson never developed into a legitimate safety on defense but he’s been one of the team’s better special teams players over the last couple of seasons.

After last season, the Bears decided not to tender Houston-Carson. He could return on a cheap deal, but there is a definite possibility that he has played his final game in Chicago.

Round 7 (Pick 230)

Daniel Braverman

WR, Western Michigan

Current Team: Calgary Stampeders (CFL)

Analysts raved about the selection of Daniel Braverman as a seventh round pick. The idea was that Braverman could be a developmental slot receiver and eventually turn into a Wes Welker or Julian Edelman type.

That hype didn’t pan out. Braverman didn’t make the 53-man roster out of the gate and placed on the practice squad. Braverman appeared in three games later in the year but failed to accumulate any statistics. The Bears let Braverman go after one season and he has bounced from the Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals practice squads over the last couple of seasons.

Retrospective Grade

This was a solid draft for Ryan Pace. After a few misses in his first draft class, Pace found several solid players. While Pace may not have found much in terms of star power, the additions of Floyd, Whitehair, and Howard are all solid NFL starters and guys like Bush and Kwiatkoski have been solid rotational players.

It seems like Pace’s drafts keep improving each year he’s been in charge of the Bears. His 2016 draft definitely surpasses his 2015 draft, but didn’t end up being quite as impactful as his 2017 draft where he found two All Pros in the fourth round in Tarik Cohen and Eddie Jackson. 2016 was a solid draft that put a couple core players in place for the Bears 2018 team that went 12-4.

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