Where is the Positional Value for the Chicago Bears in the 2020 Draft? (Part Two)

| April 21st, 2020

Yesterday I looked at top 50 prospects and found there is likely to be excellent value at WR, with solid value expected at DB, OT, and QB. Today, I want to look at the top 175 prospects to roughly fall in line with the Bears’ 3rd pick, which is 163.

The table below shows how many players were drafted in the top 175 picks at each main Bears position of need in the 2010-19 drafts. Because every draft is different, I provided a range from the least to most players at that position drafted in the top 175 picks within the last 10 drafts, as well as an average. The last column shows how many players from that position are ranked in the top 175 right now according to a composite big board.


Look at the ranges compared to how many players are currently ranked in the top 175 to get an idea of what positions are strong or weak in terms of depth for this year’s draft. For instance, 28 WRs are ranked in the top 175 prospects this year, while an average of 21.4 go in that range, and never more than 25 in the last 10 years. That suggests there is likely value to be found at WR in round 5 (though we never know exactly how a draft will unfold). A few other thoughts:

  • Offensive tackle likewise sees a higher number of prospects ranked than have been drafted in the last 10 years. This position was strong in the top 50 as well, suggesting quality options can be found throughout the draft.
  • Interior offensive line and tight end both presented poorly in the top 50 but are above average in the top 175, suggesting the depth is better than the top end talent and the Bears might do well looking to address these spots on day 3.
  • On the flip side, quarterback and defensive back are both below average in the top 175 but above average in the top 50. This suggests the Bears likely want to focus their attention on those spots with high picks if they’re going to be selected.

Let’s go through position-by-position at the likely value spots for the Bears’ 5th round pick and see what players are likely to be options.

Wide Receiver

Between 19 and 25 WRs have gone in the top 175 picks over the last 10 years, but 28 are ranked in that range this year. The table below shows players 19 through 28, in order of their ranking.

A few thoughts:

  • The Bears especially need a fast WR, but this isn’t a particularly fast group. The only player who broke 4.50 seconds in the 40 is John Hightower. If Chicago specifically wants speed at WR, there should be far more options in round 2.
  • Despite not being overly fast, several of these players are solid physical fits for Chicago’s offense. John Hightower, Quintez Cephas, and Isaiah Hodgins all hit at least 2 of the 3 thresholds, making them prototypical physical matches for this scheme.

Offensive Line

Between 9-17 tackles and 12-21 interior offensive linemen have gone in the top 175 picks over the last 10 drafts, with an average of 14 tackles and 15 interior linemen selected. There are 19 tackles and 15 interior linemen ranked in the top 175 this year (but keep in mind it’s not unusual for college tackles to transition to guard in the NFL).

Players in those ranges are shown in the table below, in order of their ranking. I’ll note the big board I pulled rankings from only went up to 200 players, and it only had 17 interior offensive linemen on it.

A few thoughts:

  • Like we saw in the top 50, the depth at tackle is outstanding. Given that Bobby Massie is likely gone after 2020, this could be a great spot to snag somebody they hope can be his eventual replacement.
  • Many of the tackles in particular are rated significantly higher on this big board than Chicago’s pick at 163, but given that no more than 17 OTs have been taken in the top 175 picks over the last 10 years, there is a solid chance 1-2 of them slip through the cracks.

Tight End

Somewhere between 5 and 14 TEs have been drafted in the top 175 picks for each of the last 10 drafts, with an average of 10 taken. There are 11 TEs ranked in the top 175 this year. The table below shows the 5th through 13th ranked TEs (all there was on the top 200 big board), as well as their overall ranking.

A few thoughts:

  • Jimmy Graham is 33, is paid far more money than he’s worth, and could be cut fairly easily after 2020. The Bears desperately need a developmental receiving tight end in the pipeline.
  • This is generally a pretty unathletic class, but a few of these players are good physical fits for the offense based on the three thresholds I’ve identified. Albert Okwuegbunam, Cheyenne O’Grady, and Josiah Deguara all hit two thresholds, the typical cutoff for tight ends in this scheme.

Lessons Learned

It’s always risky drawing too many conclusions from a big board from people who don’t work in the NFL, because it’s possible NFL teams might view these players (and rank them) quite differently. However, based on the rankings available and what the last 10 years of draft history tells us, we can split the Bears’ biggest needs into three categories:

  • WR and OT should provide solid value throughout the draft.
  • QB and DB should provide value in round 2, but the depth drops off fairly quickly.
  • TE and interior OL will likely not provide value in round 2, but solid depth makes value in round 5 possible.

Thus if the Bears really want a QB or DB, they should prioritize grabbing one with their early picks, while TE and interior OL will likely be best suited to waiting until day 3. WR and OT – arguably their 2 biggest needs – should give the Bears plenty of options throughout the draft.

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