While he was rarely on the field and his fate seemed imminent, Jerrell Freeman getting cut means the Chicago Bears have another hole on defense that needs to be filled.
They can look to fill that with the eighth overall pick in the draft.
The linebacker that has been linked to the Bears in recent mock drafts is Tremaine Edmunds from Virginia Tech.
There are many players that I would be happy with the Bears taking in the first round, such as Calvin Ridley, Quenton Nelson, Minkah Fitzpatrick, or another linebacker, Roquan Smith (more on him later).
If the Bears were to draft Edmunds, he would be a difference-maker immediately and would have the potential to play for the Bears for a very long time as he will only be 19 years old on draft night.
Edmunds is a rare linebacker, as he has great size at 6-foot-5 and weighs 250 pounds but is able to play at a rate that you’d expect from a much smaller player. An NFL scout couldn’t come up with an accurate comparison for him and said that you’d be better off comparing him to an NBA player due to his size and speed. A name I’ve seen have him linked closest to is Brian Urlacher (who came in at 6-foot-4 and weighed 258 pounds), which isn’t the worst comparison to have in Chicago.
The only knack I could see for Edmunds is that he is best equipped for a 4-3 defense, which isn’t Fangio’s style. I’m sure he could adjust into more of a 3-4 role with the Bears over time, and since he’s so young it shouldn’t be that crucial of a detail, but that is one issue I can see that would make the Bears hesitant to take him with the eighth pick.
While Smith is undersized (6-1/225), the Georgia linebacker is a freak athlete that can be seen all over the field during the game. He has great instincts, excellent closing speed, is a great tackler and he seems to be involved on every play in the flat. He can fit into a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme, so it wouldn’t be much of an adjustment coming to Chicago.
Again, the greatest concern with Smith is his size and whether he can find success playing against players with NFL size. He did excel playing in the SEC, however, and there’s an abundance of NFL talent in that conference of college football.
He will be a stud at the next level as his play-making abilities, overall athleticism and awareness is a rare commodity for a linebacker.
You can’t go wrong with either of these players and they both should be considered when the Bears are on the clock. While college statistics only tell a fraction of the story when it comes to analyzing prospects, it still should be included just for comparison’s sake.
They are similar players numbers-wise. It’s interesting that while Edmunds is two years younger than Smith, he is actually more experienced as he’s played 10 more games than him (Edmunds has also started four more games than Smith).
While taking Mitch Trubisky was considered more of a project because of the lack of playing time in his career, both of these players have a vast amount of playing experience.
At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with either of these players. Both are young playmakers that will come in, make a difference immediately and should be a long-term solution at the linebacker position.
I would take Edmunds over Smith by the slimmest of margins, and that’s mostly because of the size difference. I don’t see any major issues with him fitting into a 3-4 scheme, and I can’t imagine Chicago being against taking a guy who’s being compared to Urlacher.