Some players Chicago Bears really like will have to go

 
By Hub Arkush
harkush@profootballweekly
Updated 4/27/2019 8:35 PM
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  • Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace caught many by surprise when the first of his Day 3 draft picks was Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley. (Tim Boyle/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

    Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace caught many by surprise when the first of his Day 3 draft picks was Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley. (Tim Boyle/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

The Bears wrapped up their off-season shopping spree Saturday by adding four players and left most of us wondering what exactly are general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy going to do with all these guys?

With safety Adrian Amos and nickel corner Bryce Callahan the only key contributors from the club's 2018 NFC North championship team lost to free agency, the Bears felt they could afford to retool their running game by trading former Pro Bowl back Jordan Howard to Philadelphia.

They started by adding journeyman running back Mike Davis from Seattle, former Pro Bowl safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, nickel corner Buster Skrine and wide receiver/running back Cordarrelle Patterson in free agency.

This allowed them to enter the draft looking for an eventual No. 1 running back, whom they added with their only pick of the first two days in David Montgomery, developmental prospects at cornerback, safety, tight end and best available players everywhere else.

Which is why many were caught off guard when the first of their Day 3 picks was wide receiver Riley Ridley out of Georgia. Most analysts had rated him a late second- or third-round pick, making him a true best player available. But wide receiver already was one of the most talented position groups on the roster.

A closer look, however, reveals there is room on the depth chart for Ridley with the exit of free agents Kevin White and Josh Bellamy and only Patterson new to fill those spots. Even as an untested rookie, Ridley is a clear upgrade.

With the next turn on the clock in the sixth round, Pace and company raised even more eyebrows by selecting undersized cornerback Duke Shelley out of Kansas State. Shelley was not at the scouting combine and was unrated by many independent services.

The pick makes sense because at 5-feet-8½ he clearly can only be a slot corner, but he is little known outside of Manhattan -- Kansas, that is -- and Lake Forest.

Things went from curious to strange when the first of the Bears' two seventh-round picks was another running back, Kerrith Whyte Jr. from Florida Atlantic.

Whyte is a fascinating prospect with sub 4.4 speed and outstanding kick-return abilities, but Patterson was signed in large part because he has been the best in the league in that department over the past six seasons.

If the Bears are to carry six wideouts -- Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Javon Wims, Patterson and Ridley -- there simply isn't room for five backs: Tarik Cohen, Tayquan Mizzell, Davis, Montgomery and Whyte Jr. -- especially when you consider Patterson also can line up in the backfield. Not to mention the very promising Ryan Nall.

Some people the Bears really like are going to have to go.

With their final pick, the Bears added the most interesting prospect they've had in years, cornerback Stephen Denmark out of Valdosta State. A converted wide receiver, Denmark is 6-3, 220 and more raw than Sushi but, like Whyte Jr., a freakish athlete.

The kid clocks a 4.46 40, has a 43½-inch vertical and a truly nasty temperament when playing the run. Perhaps Pace, Nagy and new defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano envision him as that developmental safety.

Regardless, he is at least a year if not two, away from learning either position and getting on the field for anything but special teams.

Speaking of which, the one thing that is certain is those special teams got a lot more competitive this weekend, and probably a lot better even if kicker remains the team's only wild card.

At the end of the day, the Bears find themselves still in possession of the NFL's No. 1 defense, and with an offense now loaded with near-nuclear weapons at the disposal of ascending quarterback Mitch Trubisky and the mad scientist Nagy.

There is much work to do and, of course, good health required. But this renovated roster is loaded with speed, competition at almost all the skill positions and appears to give the Bears a real shot at celebrating their 100th anniversary as a legitimate championship contender … if Trubisky is up to the challenge.

• Hub Arkush, the executive editor of Pro Football Weekly, can be reached at harkush@profootballweekly.com or on Twitter @Hub_Arkush.

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