Chicago entered the 2019 NFL Draft without their first round pick due to the Khalil Mack trade and without their second round pick due to the Anthony Miller trade. Both of those players were major contributors in 2018-19, and will be for the coming years. With that in mind, Chicago still had a few needs to fill with their limited selections.
After trading Jordan Howard to the Eagles, an early-down running back was likely in the cards. Though most of their starting spots are seemingly locked down, Chicago needed to hit on their draft capital in order to keep the middle of their roster strong.
Round 3, Pick 73: David Montgomery, RB, Iowa State
Round 4, Pick 126: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
Round 6, Pick 205: Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State
Round 7, Pick 222: Kerrith Whyte Jr., RB, FAU
Round 7, Pick 238: Stephen Denmark, CB, Valdosta State
Chicago drafted two running backs with their limited selections, taking stout workhorse David Montgomery from Iowa State. He projects as an immediate starter in Chicago’s backfield, but tested as just a mediocre athlete for the position.
Chicago has rebuilt their pass catchers group over the last two years, and the selection of Riley Ridley finishes that makeover. His nuanced route running and perceived versatility to play multiple spots will naturally fit into the Bears depth chart.
The Bears final pick was intriguing D2 cornerback Stephen Denmark. At 6’3 and 220 pounds, Denmark has only been playing defensive back for one season. Playing for the D2 National Champions, Denmark got NFL exposure as an athlete with natural upside for the position. Late in the NFL Draft, that ceiling is something to take a chance on.
Best Pick: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
I had Ridley with a high 3rd round grade, and my 70th overall player. From the outset, it was easy to notice Ridley’s natural ability as a route runner. While his usage and variance wasn’t high at Georgia, he showed proficiency in all of the tools necessary to be a separator. His deceleration, flexibility in his hips and proper technique allows him to consistently create passing windows. Ridley’s combination of ball skills, body control and hands gives him a ceiling in contested spots.
While he tested as a below average athlete at the NFL Combine, his game isn’t predicated on athleticism. I would’ve taken Ridley much higher than where he fell to in the 4th round.
Worst Pick: Kerrith Whyte, RB, FAU
While I’m not one to knock 7th round picks too harshly, this selection seemed a bit redundant. It’s less about the player and more about the fact that Chicago has Tarik Cohen in their backfield and had already drafted David Montgomery. Running back isn’t a position that should be valued that high in the NFL Draft to begin with, and Chicago took 2 with their first 4 selections. While some will point to Whyte’s ability as a kick returner, Chicago already signed Cordarrelle Patterson this offseason. Whyte will likely need to find a way to produce elsewhere on special teams to justify the pick.
Favorite Day 3 Pick: Duke Shelley, CB, Kansas State
Shelley has an easy projection to the NFL as a nickel corner who will be attached to slot receivers. Despite being undersized, he’s incredibly aware as both a man and zone cover man. He has a ton of experience against the pass from playing in the Big 12, and racked up 8 interceptions and 31 pass breakups in college. Finding a role for him should be easy, which isn’t normally said about 6th round draft picks.
Overall Grade: C+
Chicago was at an obvious disadvantage with their lack of selections. Now, if you include the additions of Khalil Mack and Anthony Miller, this draft class becomes an A. But judging the class on the players that Chicago selected, I’m pretty lukewarm on the class.
While Chicago will likely feed David Montgomery as a rookie, there were more talented running backs available at that slot. While Riley Ridley was a great value pick, Chicago didn’t draft a single trench player. The addition of undrafted free agent offensive lineman Alex Bars helps that fact, but it remains to be seen how healthy Bars currently is.
Adding other undrafted free agents Emanuel Hall and Dax Raymond helps the Bears talent influx from the class. But overall, it’s hard to get too excited about the Bears haul.