INDIANAPOLIS -- The Chicago Bears are poised -- barring a trade -- to draft in the top 10 for the fourth consecutive year under general manager Ryan Pace, who received a contract extension despite the club's 14-34 record since 2015.
The Bears will attempt to address certain needs in free agency, which begins on March 14, but as it stands, they have glaring roster holes at wide receiver, cornerback, linebacker, tight end, and along the offensive line.
To gain a better perspective on what's available in the 2018 draft class, we asked ESPN NFL Insider Matt Bowen to break down four prospects he believes make sense for the Bears to consider with the No. 8 overall pick.
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
Bowen's take: "Look at Ryan Pace's history as a general manager in Chicago and what he has done with top-10 picks in terms of prioritizing measurables -- Kevin White, Leonard Floyd, and even Mitchell Trubisky, who's a quarterback that ran in the 4.6s. They all have athletic traits. He wants athletic traits. That's usually what the top-10 of the draft is. With Edmunds, there's not a player comp for him, unless it's Brian Urlacher. He's a 6-[foot]-5, 250-pound middle linebacker. There's not too many people built like that with those types of movement skills, length and closing speed."
"Why do I think Edmunds is a fit in Chicago? Because they can play him inside, but more importantly, I think they can put him opposite Leonard Floyd as a 3-4 outside linebacker. He has the athleticism to drop into coverage. The question is can he rush the passer? There isn't a lot of that on his Virginia Tech film because he was playing inside. But the draft, especially in the top 10, is taking those athletic measurables and projecting those traits. I think he's going to test off the charts here in Indy. I actually think he might not be there at No. 8. He could be a top-6 player. He's only 19-years-old. He's super young, so you're going to have some raw ability. But I understand why they would like him. I like him on tape, he flies to the football and he's an impact player. In terms of development at the position: there are times when he has to get better with his eyes. But you're talking about a young player in college; of course he has to get better with his eyes. You have to read guard pulls, fill gaps and scrape to the football ... but here's the thing: he takes a false step and he can recover because he has the athleticism."
Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama
Bowen's take: "I think the player comp for Calvin Ridley is T.Y. Hilton. That's what he is. He's an explosive offensive threat. I expect he's going to run in the 4.4s. He's a real detailed route-runner and that's what you want. If you're going to draft a wide receiver in the first round, you have to get someone with route-running ability. We've seen guys over the receivers that are drafted on traits ... I think Kevin White is a perfect example. Now, Kevin White is a hard case because we haven't seen him play enough and have a chance to develop, but he didn't come into the league as a detailed route-runner. He came in more as an athletic, matchup player.
"Calvin Ridley doesn't have that big body like a Kevin White, but his route-running is so smooth. It reminds me of Amari Cooper's tape coming out of Alabama. Very sudden, very quick, and he has the acceleration. I don't know if he has elite long speed. I don't know if he's a low 4.4 guy or 4.3 guy, but again, it's about whether a guy can get open in the NFL. You have to create separation. I don't care how fast you are. Can you create separation? Can you do that with your foot work? Can you do that with your route stem? Do you understand coverages and where to break off routes and how to attack the football? Ridley didn't have elite production at Alabama because Alabama doesn't have great quarterback play. Let's be honest. But is he a receiver that goes in the top 10? That's the question for me. Is he a need pick for the Bears? Yeah, they need wide receivers and I think they need to get a wide receiver in free agency and a wide receiver in the draft. Does that mean the Bears need a top-10 wide receiver? I don't know that."
Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
Bowen's take: "Ward is very sticky in coverage. He uses a technique that is called a 'motor-mirror-shuffle-scoot' where you line up square up on the receiver and quick pedal. It's very hard to teach. It's very hard to execute. A lot of pro guys can't do it. He's excellent at it. His shoulders are always square and on top of the receiver. He has great change-of-direction speed. He's supposed to test off the charts here.
"Now, he's not a big guy [5-10, 191 pounds]. He's an undersized corner. He's not going to be ultra-physical in the run game, but he can close on receivers and play the football. He can get in the back pocket of a receiver down the field. He can transition out of his peddle and transition with his hips open to the quarterback. If you're looking for a true cover cornerback: Ward is the guy in this draft. I think when he tests, he's going to be a top-10 player."
Quenton Nelson, OG, Notre Dame
Bowen's take: "When's the last time you ever watched a highlight tape of a guard? I never have until this year. We don't watch guards ... because they're guards. Nelson's highlight tape is like 'Monday Night Raw.' He's throwing guys out of the ring. I've never seen anything like it. He's a plug-and-play. He comes in Day 1 and starts for you at guard. But he's 6-5: Nelson has the measurables of an offensive tackle.
"So the Bears could look at him and say, 'look, he’s the best player on our board, do we make him a tackle?' Or maybe they keep that in their draft pocket and start him as a guard, but know that he has the swing ability where one day they can develop him into a tackle. They'll be some ups and downs moving a player from guard to tackle. The Bears went through it with Kyle Long. But Nelson is so nasty that he makes your football team so much more physical and tougher. That's what you want. If you're going to draft an offensive lineman that high, you have to see him finish plays and toss guys around. Nelson does that. He dominates competition. He has good movement skills and can climb to the second level. But I think some teams are going to look at him as a tackle. That's all about draft value. Are you going to draft a guard in the top 10? Are the Bears, who desperately need playmakers, going to draft a guard in the top 10? That's the question. But maybe he's just the best player available. Outside of the quarterbacks, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Saquon Barkley, Nelson may have the highest grade in the draft. And you know with Matt Nagy, the Bears are going to run inside zone like crazy. You could run behind Nelson, who's a road grader, and he's going to make people feel it when he hits them. That's a beautiful thing to have."