The 2019 NFL Draft will begin Thursday Night, but the Chicago Bears will wait until late Friday night before making their first selection in the third round. Following a return to the playoffs this past season, General Manager Ryan Pace has been quiet this offseason adding to the team.
With no capital to make trades and small cap space to sign free agents, the Bears were limited. The moves they have made should be an inkling to which position they will be targeting with the 87th pick.
It is no secret that one of the Bears offseason goals has been to upgrade the running back position as head coach Matt Nagy values the position immensely. Nagy’s offense utilizes a dual-threat running back who can be effective both running the ball and catching the ball out of the backfield, but more importantly, is able to disguise the play.
In 2018, the bears running backs lacked that disguise as Jordan Howard being in the backfield meant the Bears were likely to run the ball and when Tarik Cohen was in it likely meant the Bears would pass.
The Bears biggest offense addition at the position so far has been the signing of former Seattle Seahawks running back Mike Davis. Davis rushed for 504 yards and four touchdowns last season in Seattle as he split reps. Davis could be used as a between the tackles running back and in goal-line situations for the Bears this upcoming season.
Signing Davis has been the only addition made via free agency at the position so far as the team chose to pass on one free agent running back who would have fit the offensive scheme really well. Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon was available before signing with the Buffalo Bills earlier this week.
Yeldon was Jacksonville starting running back for two seasons before the team drafted Leonard Fournette and caught 55 passes last season in a backup role. He would have been able to give the Bears that dual-threat ability but the team didn’t show serious interest.
Trading Howard is another reason as to why the Bears will most likely target a running back on Friday night. The trade wasn’t a matter of if, but when it was going to happen as the team moved on from their starting running back by abruptly trading him to the Eagles.
Pace’s timing for the trade was questionable as there was no dire need to move the former Pro-Bowl running back right away and they also could have gotten more than just a 2020 conditional draft pick from Philadelphia. With the swiftness of the trade, it appears that the organization has potential plans to fill Howard’s departure immediately through the draft.
On defense, the team chose to address their biggest need via free agency following the loss of safety Adrian Amos. The team signed safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix to a short term deal which allows them insurance if they do not like the safeties available in the draft. Pace and his staff could have chosen to do the same at the running back position but may like their potential options at the running back position.
This year’s draft is deep at the running back position especially to the mid to late rounds. Pace has been extremely good at finding running back talent in the mid-rounds as he drafted both Howard and Cohen in the fourth and fifth round with both going on to become Pro-Bowlers.
Given the moves leading up to the draft, it appears that the Bears will be focused on addressing the position again and using their potential first selection Friday night to do so.