8 players the Chicago Bears might be looking to take in first round of NFL draft

By Hub Arkush
Updated 4/25/2018 6:18 AM
  • Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has the No. 8 overall pick in Thursday's first round of the NFL draft.

      Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has the No. 8 overall pick in Thursday's first round of the NFL draft. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer/file

Ahead of what is probably Ryan Pace's favorite and least favorite weekend of the year, the Chicago Bears general manager made one thing very clear Tuesday.

With his team owning the eighth overall pick in Thursday's first round of the NFL draft, Pace said, "We have eight names right now of players that we like, players that we're comfortable selecting at eight.

"There's a lot of variables that are going to take place in front of us that are going to dictate who's going to be there, and we're excited if any one of those eight names are there."

If a GM doesn't love the NFL draft, he's clearly in the wrong business. He doesn't get to play on Sundays, but he does get three days every year where he can separate himself and do his job better than anyone else.

It can also be daunting. Every time a general manager makes a decision, it's one he must live with and hear about as long as he stays in his job. And it's a given that not every choice will be a good one.

There's also the added pressure when that first pick is in the top five or top 10. There are only millions of people out there trying to figure out whose names made your "list."

This year we got a bigger hint from the Bears than usual. As much as Pace would love to tell us absolutely nothing -- not because he's a bad guy but to protect his intelligence and strategies -- there is a simple truth this year he can't hide.

"I think the fact it's a talented quarterback class is going to help us this year with where we're picking," he said. "But to sit here and think we're going to select a quarterback at that point would be inaccurate."

If you're trying to identify the Bears' "Super 8," you must identify the top 12 or 13 players in this draft because four or five are quarterbacks, and you have to consider Pace's approach because he has emerged as a "traits" and "high ceilings" guy.

"You see a lot of physical traits and talent, and you're projecting how much better they can get," he said. "That's part of the art of doing this.

"We talk about the desire to get better. Their passion and their love for the game. If they have all the physical traits but they don't have that desire, then it might not work.

"But if they do have that desire, they do have that passion, those are the kinds of players we want."

So who are Ryan's guys?

Bradley Chubb, Quenton Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Saquon Barkley are the four highest-rated players and have to be on the draft list.

Then it gets trickier. Roquan Smith, Denzel Ward, Derwin James, Baker Mayfield, Marcus Davenport, Tremaine Edmunds and Da'Ron Payne should come next.

But the QB (Mayfield) is out, Ward is a great looking corner but not really a high-ceiling guy, and I'm not sure size doesn't make Smith less than a great fit for the Bears.

That leaves James, Davenport, Edmunds and Payne to most likely complete the Bears "Super 8."

Of course we don't have their medical history. Since not one of these players has obvious character red flags, I think this list is solid.

Chubb and Barkley won't last that long and while others think he might, I don't see Nelson making it to No. 8 either.

But Pace, assuming he doesn't trade down, should put his head on the pillow Thursday night with either Nelson, Fitzpatrick or James as a Bear. If he does, I'm predicting he'll get a good night's sleep.

• Twitter: @Hub_Arkush.

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