Real life always has a strange way of seeping into professional life. Nobody could’ve predicted the impact that the coronavirus (COVID-19) would have on sports when it began its lethal spread from China. The NFL was no different. Already minicamps and OTAs have been postponed with expectations that training camp and the preseason aren’t far behind. This has forced the Chicago Bears and other teams to adjust.
One of the craziest aspects of all this is regarding the NFL draft. Typically this time of year is when teams are conducting visits with top prospects. Having interviews and most importantly conducting medical evaluations. That second part is creating a ton of havoc inside team buildings. Without pro days and proper physicals, teams will be far less inclined to take chances earlier in the draft on players who might be flying under the radar due to injuries or humble origins.
Jordan Reid of The Draft Network believes this could create an unusual swell of talent on the undrafted free agent market.
While that is true, it also speaks to another benefit. A team that might have a healthy number of late round picks. A team like the Bears.
Chicago Bears are equipped to benefit in this draft
Thanks to a couple of notable trades, the Bears currently have five picks in the final three rounds of the draft. One in the 5th, two in the 6th, and two in the 7th. Normally that wouldn’t mean a lot, but these are different times. GM Ryan Pace has a reputation for finding talent late in a draft. Since 2015 he found three different players who became quality contributors in Adrian Amos, Jordan Howard, and Bilal Nichols.
This is the sort of draft where 5th round picks could be valued as 4th round picks, 6th round picks as 5th round picks and so on. It wouldn’t be a surprise if they add even more by the end of the draft with speculation Pace may try to move down from one of those 2nd round selections they also have.
As always this guarantees nothing. Hard work and a little luck are still needed to have success in the draft. That said, unique circumstances can work in favor of a pick-deficient team like the Bears.