Pro Football Focus Illustrates Big Reason This Bears Team Is Disrespected

5880
bears 2016 draft

People love to dump on the Bears 2017 draft class. This despite none of its five members having played a single snap in the NFL yet. One would think GM Ryan Pace earned some credibility. Especially after the first impression his Bears 2016 draft made. The trio of Leonard Floyd, Cody Whitehair and Jordan Howard were outstanding as rookies. Better than most fans had dared to hope.

As it turns out one of the prominent media outlets going today in Pro Football Focus agrees. They were big supporters almost from the start and have since grown in their admiration. Over the past couple days PFF has released a series of interesting stat snippets regarding what players were able to accomplish in 2016. As it turns out Floyd, Whitehair and Howard featured quite prominently.

Chicago fans might be fascinated to find out what was said, and intrigued about what this means for this coming season.

Bears 2016 draft was a PFF fever dream

It took a little longer than expected for him to get on track, but once Floyd was healthy by midseason he was an absolute terror. Most Bears fans won’t ever forget his first trip up to Lambeau Field when he sacked Aaron Rodgers twice. Not to mention forcing a fumble and scoring a touchdown. In a five-game span he delivered 6.5 sacks. If not for a pair of ill-timed concussions there’s no telling how strong his finish might’ve been. Now he’s back for a second year, reportedly 20 lbs heavier too. Not a welcome thought for the quarterbacks who’ll have to deal with him.

The story behind Whitehair is wild. A left tackle out of Kansas Stat, the Bears drafted him after trading down not once but twice in the second round. Initially the plan was to play him at left guard. Then Hroniss Grasu tore his ACL, leaving the center position in dire straits. So the team chose to shift Whitehair into that spot, this despite him never playing it before. Not only did he become the highest-rated second round pick on PFF, but also the sixth-ranked center in the entire NFL. One could argue he deserved a nod to the Pro Bowl for what he accomplish with zero prior experience.

Something that immediately stuck out with Jordan Howard on his college tape was his vision. Few backs in the draft were better at locating the open hole. Combined with his acceleration and decisiveness, he was so good at slipping through the line of scrimmage before defenses could seal it off. Throw in his big body and considerable power and the guy was a headache in every sense. It’s hard to run between the tackles in this modern NFL. Aside from good blocking it takes someone with eyes and strength to make it work. Howard has both.

Gift that keeps on giving

This more than anything explains why Pace felt so comfortable being aggressive in this most recent draft. He gave up extra picks to acquire both quarterback Mitch Trubisky and safety Eddie Jackson. The general idea is the 2016 class will be the backbone of the team moving forward while his aggressive moves this year pinpoint top talent for key positions like quarterback and safety.

The scariest part is the 2016 class may not be done providing. Expectations are still high for the likes of Jonathan Bullard and Nick Kwiatkoski. Both are expected to see significant playing time this year and flashed lots of potential as rookies. If they start to blossom? Oh dear. Not to mention other players who are getting overlooked as well.

People continue to disregard how much good health played into that 3-13 debacle last season. It’s hard to win football games in the NFL when half the best players on the roster aren’t playing. The Bears recognized this more than any team. It’s why they’ve invested so much time and money towards find methods to help curb the problem. They know if they succeed, this team is ready to show people it’s gotten way more disrespect than it deserves.

SHARE
Erik Lambert
Brainwashed by the sports culture as a wee lad, Erik was educated to be a writer at the prestigious Columbia College. He has spent the past 10 years covering the Bears.