The Chicago Bears 2018 draft class was a catalyst for their push to the playoffs. Most people credit the arrival of Matt Nagy and Khalil Mack as the primary driving forces, but they cannot and should ignore how much impact the rookie class had on the season. It was hard to imagine GM Ryan Pace topping what he did the year before, nabbing three eventual Pro Bowlers in Mitch Trubisky, Eddie Jackson, and Tarik Cohen.
He sure as hell gave it a try though.
With the season at an end, Nick Shook of NFL.com decided it was a good time to re-grade every team’s 2018 draft class to see if things had improved, stayed the same, or regressed. For Chicago, it was a validation of what everybody thought. They finished with an A-, tying them with the New York Giants for the highest grade in the NFC and the second-highest grade in NFL behind Indianapolis.
That’s a pretty good encore from Pace and a welcome sign of where the future of this team is headed.
Chicago Bears 2018 draft class driven primarily by early picks
Shook made sure to offer praise to some of the later round choices made including 5th round pick Bilal Nichols. He was tremendous in limited snaps. However, the true strength of this group was the three-headed monster they put together in the 1st and 2nd rounds.
“Few clubs reaped a better haul from the first two rounds of the 2018 draft than Chicago. After sweating out a testy and lengthy holdout with (Roquan) Smith over some restrictive contract language, the two sides made up and wreaked havoc on the NFC. Smith completed a nasty linebacking corps featuring Danny Trevathan and edge rushers Khalil Mack and Leonard Floyd, leading the team in tackles (121) and making himself an obvious PFWA All-Rookie honoree.
Drafted as a center, (James) Daniels filled in at guard for Eric Kush and started from Week 8 on, holding his own against the likes of Sheldon Richardson and Aaron Donald down the stretch. Miller proved a key part of Chicago’s revamped receiving corps, leading the team in touchdown receptions (seven) and TD percentage (21.2). A favorite of Mitchell Trubisky’s, (Anthony) Miller should be a starter alongside Allen Robinson in 2019.”
Smith came just a few tackles shy of tying Brian Urlacher’s rookie record despite no training camp or preseason. Daniels did not allow a sack as a starter at 21-years old. Miller caught seven touchdowns despite often playing with an injured shoulder. It’s scary to think how good they were and yet how much better they could be moving forward.