Our Chicago Bears reporter breaks down the team’s prospective prospects for the NFL draft, which takes place from April 25-27. Read the previous scouting reports here.
By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
In 2018, the Chicago Bears were able to bring together a really good collection of players to highlight one of the best team of pass rushers in the entire NFL.
Emerging as pillars of the league’s No. 1 defense and its vaunted pass rush were edge rusher Khalil Mack and defensive lineman Akiem Hicks, two of the most difficult players to block in the league and two men who set up a talented group of linebackers and defensive lineman around them with one-on-one blocks play after play.
Neither Mack or Hicks are going anywhere anytime soon, but even with the collection of good players at linebacker and defensive line fueling the current Monsters of the Midway — many of whom stand to develop into even better players this season — no team is ever deep enough at pass rusher.
Getting after the opposing passer is one of the true equalizers in the game of football. A team can have a litany of defensive issues but if that defense can get after the other team’s passer with regularity than that defense has a shot at keeping any game close.
Therefore, every NFL team should take stock of the potential pass rushing prospects in every draft in case there is a chance to add or upgrade their attack. The Bears made a smart signing last week in bringing back edge rusher Aaron Lynch, who was a solid and versatile player that stepped in solidly for a couple games when an injury occurred to Mack. But Lynch’s deal is just for one season and finding his replacement or simply someone to rotate with him should be a priority of the Bears. The edge rushers in this draft have been talked about by many scouts and draft evaluators as a deep group.
2019 NFL Draft Preview Vol. 3 – WRs and TEs (WARR on Anchor)
Teams will have pass rushing options available to them throughout each round of the draft and a player that could be available once the Bears get on the clock for the first time in the third round is Christian Miller. Miller comes from a great defense at Alabama and he produced his senior year to the tune of eight sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Edge rusher isn’t an area the Bears must target with the 87th pick but it would be smart to acquire a player from that position before the draft ends.
It will be interesting to see what type of draft strategy the Bears will deploy over the three days of the draft. They have plenty of areas on the team that could be upgraded but with only five draft picks, the team will have to be savvy and deft with their selections.
Lets take a deeper dive into Christian Miller, a player that might be a real answer for the Bears in the draft.
- 40 yard dash – DNP
- Bench press – DNP
- Vert Jump – 38.5” (Third out of all edge rushers)
- Broad Jump – 9’10” (Tied seventh out of edge rushers)
- 3 cone drill – DNP
- 20 yard shuttle – DNP
- 60 yard shuttle – DNP
- Really long arms and uses them effectively
- Has enough speed to move sideline to sideline
- Gets off the snap well
- Has good footwork on inside counter moves
- Overall good instincts as a pass rusher
- Needs to add bulk and weight
- Can get pushed out wide by tackles
- Questions remain about run support ability
- Has to work on anchoring otherwise tackles can manhandle him
Fit with the Bears:
Miller comes from an Alabama defense that was excellent for the majority of last year and at times unbreakable. Miller was a major part of the great play from the Crimson Tide’s defense — he’s pro ready and he would be a help for the Bears.
Miller instantly would become a contributor in the pass rush rotation and could stand to see some valuable time given how often outside linebackers Leonard Floyd and Aaron Lynch are injured. He would also give the Bears versatility in terms of their future planning. Lynch will likely be moving on after this season and Floyd hasn’t been signed to a long term deal with one year and a fifth-year option remaining on his rookie contract.
New defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano will want as many guys as possible that can be used in pass rushing while also retaining enough versatility to cover out of the backfield. This way Pagano can be deceptive to opposing offenses by dropping different guys into coverage so its not always obvious which guys are coming after the quarterback. Miller can do both and because of his experience at Alabama, he should be able to pick up the Bears scheme quickly.
The 2019 draft has quite a few edge rushing prospects so the Bears don’t have to draft one once they come up on the board in the third round, they will be able to look at some other guys in the later rounds as options.
If Miller is available and winds up being the Bears selection then the team is getting a successful pass rusher in college that should only bolster the pass rushing group on the roster. What a sight it would be to see if the Bears 2019 pass rush can actually be better than it was last season.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR