There’s only one word that can be used to sum up the Chicago Bears’ efforts in the 2017 NFL Draft, potential.
Second-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft Mitchell Trubisky has the potential to be a franchise quarterback for the Chicago Bears. Third-round pick Adam Shaheen out of Division II Ashland University has the potential to be a big play tight end.
General manager Ryan Pace began the fourth round by trading the Bears’ No. 117 pick and No. 197 pick in the sixth round to move up to No. 112 to get safety Eddie Jackson out of Alabama. Two picks later, he brought in running back Tarik Cohen out of North Carolina A&T.
Pace finished his weekend in the fifth round, using the Bears’ No. 147 pick by dipping back into Division II for guard Jordan Morgan out of Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. Now let’s take a more detailed look at the Bears Day 3 efforts.
The Bears spent the 2017 NFL Draft by selecting four offensive players among their five picks. For their first pick in the fourth round Pace made an aggressive move to grab a player who has potential to be a starting safety.
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Jackson would have been a high first-, early second-round selection except for a broken leg he suffered in Alabama’s eighth game against Texas A&M. He also tore his ACL in the spring of 2014 which raises concerns about whether he can stay healthy at the NFL level. Jackson started his career at Alabama as a cornerback before converting to safety. He has the speed to cover tight ends and slot receivers but hasn’t shown big-hit ability.
He also has the ability to contribute as a kick and punt returner. Jackson returned 11 punts for 253 yards and two touchdowns in 2016 before breaking his leg.
The Bears ran a lot of safeties in and out of their defensive lineup last season with none established themselves as starting caliber. They signed free agent Quintin Demps away from the Houston Texans to man the strong safety spot. Jackson will get his chance in training camp to compete to start at free safety.
Nicknamed “The Human Joystick”, Cohen is only 5-6,175 pounds, but has an incredible ability to move and make tacklers miss. That ability is best summed up from his scouting report on NFL.com:
"Rare ability to stop and start. Cuts are just as seamless and sharp from any direction. Field vision is excellent. Has lateral escapability to put would-be tacklers on his highlight tapes. Gifted with unusually large hands and a powerful lower body that enhances his contact balance and ability to drive for extra yardage. Very good acceleration pulls him away from tacklers and into the clear. Relentless competitor."
Jordan Howard did an excellent job last season to establish himself as the Bears starting running back but Cohen would give them a change-of-pace that they’ve never possessed before, both as a runner and receiver out of the backfield.
Because of his size, Cohen is being looked at as a Darren Sproles style player. The problem is, there have been a lot of players who’ve come into the league with the potential of being a Sproles clone and left before playing a single down. There’s only one Sproles. We’ll see if Cohen can at least come close.
Morgan is a large man at 6-3, 309 pounds who overwhelmed Division II competition and will now be stepping up to compete against athletes who are as large and strong as he is.
Morgan is a road-grader as a run blocker but will need work to develop his pass block skills. He has the height to play tackle but his arms aren’t long enough to extend effectively, so Morgan is expected to work at guard for the Bears.
This grade would have been a D for the Bears dipping back into Division II but the Bears coaching staff had the chance to work with Morgan at the Senior Bowl. With that first-hand knowledge it’s likely John Fox and offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains had a big hand in the Bears making Morgan their final pick of this draft.