The Chicago Bears hold the third overall pick in the NFL Draft and most experts project them to take a defensive player, that is, if they keep the pick and don’t trade down. ESPN’s Todd McShay is just one of many to link Adams and the Bears, and for good reason.
Safety is perhaps Chicago’s biggest area of need, next to quarterback of course. The team addressed the latter by signing Mike Glennon in free agency to be, presumably, the starter going forward. They also signed veteran safety Quinton Demps, previously of the Houston Texans, to insert into one of the starting safety spots. Demps led the Texans in interceptions last season, and the Bears are hoping he can have repeat success in that area in 2017-2018. Aside from his play on the field, however, the Bears may also turn to Demps as a leader to guide their younger players at safety to develop the position further going forward.
The Bears have several young safeties on the roster, including safeties they have drafted in each of the previous three drafts – Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, and Adrian Amos. All three, however, have had their share of blunders and rough patches. Despite drafting safeties on a consistent basis, the Bears have not taken one higher than the fourth round since 2012. That year was also the third straight year that the Bears drafted a safety in the third round – Major Wright, Chris Conte, and Brandon Hardin. As you can tell by the names on this list so far, the team has not “hit” on a stud safety for a very long time. In fact, the Bears have not drafted a safety in the first round since 1990, where they selected Mark Carrier.
Chicago may look to change both trends this year. Adams has every scout raving about both his physical abilities on-field and his leadership off of it. He finished his decorated career at LSU with 209 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two sacks. Adams was voted first-team All-SEC in his final year with the team. There was only one considerable knock on Adams at the NFL Combine, and that was his 40-yard dash time. Adams ran a 4.56, but will most likely improve upon that number at LSU’s pro day on April 5.
Previously, there were talks that the Bears were heavily considering either Alabama defensive end Jonathan Allen or Ohio State safety Malik Hooker with the third pick. However, concern has developed recently over the status of Allen’s shoulders, as well as Hooker’s recent surgery to repair a torn labrum. Two years ago the Bears drafted wide receiver Kevin White out of West Virginia with similar injury concerns, and he has played only four games in two seasons as a result of lingering injuries. Do they really want to risk taking another player with injury concerns arising right before draft time?
Typically, teams tend to stay away from drafting a safety in the first round, as a commonly held philosophy is that you can find a starting safety in the middle rounds of the draft. The Bears’ history of drafting at that position shows they have followed that trend to a T. Personally, I hope they stray from it this year and take Adams with their top pick. The Bears passed on Alabama safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (1st round pick, Green Bay Packers) and Landon Collins (33rd overall pick, New York Giants) in recent years, and those two have become some of the young stars at the position in the NFL. There is little-to-no risk with taking Adams, the Bears know exactly what they are getting. The Bears might think to themselves “Could we still get him with a lower pick?” and look to trade back, however I believe the potential benefits from perhaps reaching a few spots and taking Adams outweighs any doubt lingering in general manager Ryan Pace’s mind.
After all, with a team at this stage in the rebuilding process, over thinking may be the difference between fielding a truly competitive team and regretting a decision in the future.
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