Saturday, April 20, 2024

Draft Insider Thinks Chicago Bears Pull A Giant 1st Round Swerve


There is no shortage of names connected to the Chicago Bears as the NFL draft draws closer and closer. Most experts have connected them to the same handful of prospects, including Jalen Carter, Peter Skoronski, Paris Johnson, Darnell Wright, and Christian Gonzalez. The prevailing rumor is GM Ryan Poles wants to trade down again. He may do that. However, there is the possibility he may not find a taker. In such a case, he’ll have to pick somebody. Those names seem like the most obvious.

Yet this is the draft. One thing we’ve all learned is to expect the unexpected this time of year. There have been many instances of the Bears pulling a complete shocker with their 1st round pick. Mitch Trubisky, Leonard Floyd, and Shea McClellin all come to mind. It’s possible Poles is feeding all the smoke on purpose to keep people ignorant of who he really wants. Draft insider Matt Miller of ESPN thinks he may know who that is, having the Bears scoop up Iowa defensive end Lukas Van Ness in his official mock draft.

“The Bears are positioned to take the best player available in Ryan Poles’ second draft and Van Ness offers both an immediate impact and a stunning ceiling. He didn’t start at Iowa but produced seven sacks in 2022. At 6-5 and 272 pounds, with 34-inch arms, he has fantastic open-field agility. During position drills at the combine, one scout texted me that he “looks like a strong safety” given his movement and ability to change directions. In coach Matt Eberflus’ 4-3 defense, you would love to see an interior pass-rusher here, but there isn’t a defensive tackle worthy of the No. 9 pick with Carter off the board.”

Van Ness does fit the Chicago Bears’ prototype.

Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus have stated from the beginning they’re big on players that fit a specific profile. They want big athletes with good length. Van Ness checks those boxes. He’s 6’5, 272 lbs, has 34-inch arms, outstanding power, and is quite fast for his size. The persistent issue evaluators have with him is his rawness. The kid still relies on a small array of pass rush moves. Veteran offensive linemen will catch on to him quickly and have counters ready. Van Ness must learn to diversify his approach.

When it comes to thinking about 4-3 defensive linemen, there is no question he fits the profile. His upside is substantial. It probably doesn’t hurt that Cole Kmet’s sister is his girlfriend. The Chicago Bears probably have good intel on him from every angle. Is he worth the 9th overall pick? Most experts seem split on that. Some think his talent is worth the risk, others believe he’s way too unpolished to take that high. This would explain why Poles is so eager to move down. Perhaps he wants to get to a point where taking Van Ness feels justified.

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