What drafting Georgia WR Riley Ridley proves about the 2019 Bears

What drafting Georgia WR Riley Ridley proves about the 2019 Bears

Did the Bears need another wide receiver? Not really. 

But after addressing running back by trading up and drafting David Montgomery in the third round on Friday, did the Bears really have any other truly glaring needs?

An argument could be made for a few positions: Tight end, edge rusher, cornerback and safety all come to mind. But whoever else the Bears were going to draft after landing Montgomery was always going to be a depth piece, one or two spots removed from the top of the depth chart. So why not take the best player available?

That’s precisely what Ryan Pace did with pick No. 126, landing Georgia wide receiver Riley Ridley. 

“It's a great example of us taking the best player on our board,” Pace said. 

For what it’s worth, the Athletic’s Dane Brugler had Ridley No. 59 on his top 100 rankings. Rotoworld’s Josh Norris had him in his top 75. The Ringer’s Danny Kelly had Ridley in his top 100. By a number of accounts outside the favorable walls of Halas Hall, the Bears got themselves a good player with the 126th pick. 

But being able to pick Ridley while not worrying about filling a true need with a fourth-round pick was yet another signal of how strong this Bears roster is heading into the 2019 season. 

“The roster is at a point that we don't have to force anything,” Pace said. “And that's our mindset every draft, but to have a player of that caliber there and comfortably be able to take him was really a no-brainer because he was so high on our board.”

Pace has never been one to outwardly force picks based on need — perhaps trading up to draft Mitch Trubisky could be a counter-argument, though good quarterbacks on rookie contracts are the most valuable commodity in the NFL today. Previously, though, everything could’ve been considered a need on a roster with a dearth of talent. 

But drafting a player like Ridley is what good teams are able to do. They may not need Ridley to be an important contributor now, but what if a year from now they’re in a cap crunch and have to make a difficult decision to cut a highly-paid receiver? Or what if an injury occurs? 

Or, to put it another way: If Ridley develops like the Bears believe he can, it’ll hardly be a bad thing for the team to have another good player on its roster. 

Ridley comes to the Bears with an important trait: His route running ability. That’s an increasingly difficult skill to find in the ranks of college receivers, who so often run simple route concepts and have limited route trees and are able to win on pure strength or athleticism. 

Ridley is strong, no doubt, but the first thing Pace mentioned when rattling off his strengths was his route running ability. That matters. 

“He has a savviness to him to know how to set guys up,” Pace said. “… So when you're watching him, you consistently see him separating from man coverage and I think it's because of his physical skillset but also because he's a very good route runner. So that's one of the first things that jumps out — just how how defined his routes are, how crisp his routes are and how he knows how to set guys up.”

Nagy, too, praised the route running acumen Ridley will bring with him to Halas Hall, as well as a good grasp of some of the finer points of playing the receiver position. 

“He does win a lot more than 50-50 balls,” Nagy said. “He wins a lot of those, in the routes that he runs. He’s always extending his arms. He’s catching the ball away from his chest. He has very, very, extremely natural hands, which is friendly to a quarterback. And he has the route running. He has confidence and when he was in here with us just talking to him, with where he’s at and what he believes in himself and what he can do, we like that. And as Ryan said, he was sitting at a great spot for us and he does nothing but create competition and all of our guys are going to be ready for it.”

It’s far too early to say Ridley will absolutely work out in the NFL, of course. He’s not particularly fast and didn’t have much in the way of college production: 44 catches, 570 yards, nine touchdowns — numbers similar to what 2018 seventh-round pick Javon Wims did his final year at Georgia (45 catches, 720 yards, 7 TDs). 

But he represented something larger for the Bears as a franchise: The best player available, and the team’s ability to confidently take that player without sacrificing a glaring need for it. 

“Truly, by far, (he was) the best player on our board,” Pace said. “And (we’re) very excited to select him.”

Devin Hester's son already looks ready to return the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl for a touchdown


Devin Hester's son already looks ready to return the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl for a touchdown

The year is 2034. On the sideline stands a grizzled Mitch Trubisky, the effects of a two-decade long NFL career evident as he leads the Chicago Bears off the teleportation tunnel (that'll be a thing by then) and onto the field for one last game. Year 16 in Matt Nagy's system is almost in the books. Nagy, who many have come to know as "The Approachable Bill Belichick," has moved on to pagan holidays after running the nickname well dry throughout the years.  Club Dub is now a moderately successful chain of college town dance clubs. 

It's Super Bowl LXIX, and the Bears are slight underdogs against the London Jaguars, who by then will presumably be named something far more British. The London British Jaguars, perhaps. The captains meet at midfield to shake hands with the refs, who are of course robots. The head robot runs its coin flip algorithm, and the Bears will recieve the opening kick. It's go time on the Moon. 

Lining up deep to field the kick? Dray Hester, Devin Hester's kid. If you don't believe that *all* of this is destined to happen, just take a look: 

It's happening. See you on the moon. 

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

The Bears have the top-ranked defense in Madden 20, plus other takeaways from today's ratings reveal

A boatload of Madden ratings dropped on Monday, and with it, more content than you could shake a stick at. 

The Bears, predictably, got a fair bit of love on the defensive side of the ball and were largely ignored on offense. 

No Fangio, No Problem

For a wide variety of reasons, it's trendy to point out that the Bears' defense is headed for some regression this season. Madden disagrees, though, rating the Bears defense (88) as the best in football. They did also give the Houston Texans' defense an 88 as well, but never let the details get in the way of a good story. Here's what they said: 

For Chicago, the unit is fronted by 99 Club member, LOLB Khalil Mack. FS Eddie Jackson (91 OVR) is a Superstar X-Factor like his teammate, Mack. That’s a scary combination for any opposing quarterback. Toss in CB Kyle Fuller (89 OVR) and you can see why this Bears unit should roar out of the gate in Madden 20. 

Year 2 Mitch Doesn't Get Any Love 

Trubisky was rated as the 24th best QB, which is already being debated passionately, regardless of how debatable it actually is. What's lowkey worse is that Chase Daniel, the 9-year NFL vet, got the same rating as Dax Raymond, the undrafted free agent. 

May We Remind You That Khalil Mack Is A Terrific Football Player 

Earlier in the month, Mack was revealed as one of the 4 players who received the infamous 99 rating. That means he's also the top-ranked LOLB, two points ahead of Denver's Von Miller and 16 points ahead of any NFC North LOLB. Enjoy those draft picks, Oakland! 

Akiem Hicks Gets Snubbed And Frankly We've Just About Had It 

Hicks was ranked as the 19th-best defensive lineman, which is just objectively untrue. In some alternate universe, there may be 18 better defensive linemen than Akiem Hicks, but that is just simply inaccurate in this one. He was heated about his rating, and we cannot blame him. 

The Lowest Ranked Bears Player Was ... 

Patrick Scales. Sorry Patrick Scales.