The Chicago Bears and new head coach Matt Nagy have been busy the last week putting together a new coaching staff.
Nagy’s hires have been praised by many around the league including the hiring of Harry Hiestand as offensive line coach and Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator. Both come from recent college football coaching positions and their college experience could be highly valuable when it comes to the NFL Draft.
Hiestand was most recently Notre Dame’s offensive line coach and oversaw many offensive linemen who are currently having successful NFL careers. Cowboys All-Pro guard Zack Martin, Ravens tackle Ronnie Stanley, and Texans center Nick Martin are just a few of the recent Notre Dame offensive linemen to have success in the league. Since Hiestand was hired in 2012, Notre Dame has seen offensive linemen get drafted in four of his six seasons as the positions coach.
For Helfrich, he comes from being the University of Oregon head coach as recent as 2016 and was the successor to Chip Kelly when Kelly left in 2013 to coach the Eagles. In his four seasons as head coach, Helfrich had 12 of his player get drafted with half of them being drafted no later than the third round. Furthermore, the Oregon football team was ranked and appeared in a bowl game three of Helfrich’s four seasons.
One of the key values of hiring successful coaches from college is that they are better equipped when it comes to evaluating college talent heading into the draft. Current Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and former Cowboys coach Jimmie Johnson both were successful college head coaches and built their Super Bowl winning teams mainly through the draft.
It wasn’t just the talented players from their former college teams that they were drafting, but the talented players they had coached against that they were drafting. Many of Johnson’s Miami players were successful NFL talents and Carroll’s Seahawks defense features many talented players who were apart of the Pac-12 conference during Carroll’s USC tenure.
Helfrich also comes from the Pac-12 conference that has seen teams such as Washington, USC, Stanford, and Washington State be consistently ranked and produced first-round NFL Draft talent. Hiestand was a part of a Notre Dame coaching staff that coached 17 games against different ranked opponents from 2014 to 2017. The two coaches combine for over nine years of collegiate coaching experience against some of the best talent in the country.
Both Helfrich and Hiestand roles with the Bears coaching staff will be to help coach Nagy produce the most efficient offense possible for the Bears. It would be surprising if they are asked to assist heavily in draft evaluation by general manager Ryan Pace.
It is to the Bears organization’s benefit to take advantage of both coaches’ experience and connections in determining what players to draft. These roles could be vital for the Bears plan on achieving sustained success in future years.