NFL Draft: 11 players the Bears could pick at No. 11
NFL Draft: 11 players the Bears could select at No. 11
The Bears have a plethora of needs on both sides of the football so general manager Ryan Pace will likely head into the 2016 NFL Draft in a position to select the best player available. Sitting at the No. 11 slot, the Bears will have the opportunity to add another core piece to their defense or they could elect to nab a foundation piece to the backfield in Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. CSNChicago.com's Scott Krinch runs through 11 options for the Bears at the No. 11.
Ezekiel Elliott (RB), Ohio State
After letting Matt Forte walk this past offseason, the Bears will likely be in the market for a running back to compliment Jeremy Langford and Ka'Deem Carey. Ryan Pace may shoot for more than just a compliment and snag one of the most complete running backs to enter the draft in recent memory in Ezekiel Elliott. The Bears running backs coach Stan Drayton was Elliott's running backs coach at Ohio State so the connection between the two has been well documented. Yes, there are more pressing needs on defense, but Zeke may be to good to pass up if he slides to No. 11.
Sheldon Rankins (DT), Louisville
Sheldon Rankins has flown up draft boards in recent weeks and there's a good chance he could be the first defensive tackle selected on Thursday night. He's a bit undersized to play the nose in a 3-4 defense, but his ability to disrupt the passer could entice the Bears and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio at No. 11.
Shaq Lawson (EDGE), Clemson
Outside of Joey Bosa, Clemson's Shaq Lawson may be the safest EDGE rusher out of any first round prospect. Lawson played both the 5-technique and stand up linebacker with the Tigers in 2015. He finished among the NCAA leaders in stuffs for a defensive lineman with 17, tackles for a loss (25.5) and sacks (12.5). The Bears desperately need more pass rushers and Lawson could be an ideal fit with the No. 11 selection.
Vernon Hargreaves III (CB), Florida
Kyle Fuller improved on a subpar rookie season and veteran corner Tracy Porter provided some stability in the secondary, but the Bears still need an infusion of talent in the pass-happy NFL. Florida's Vernon Hargreaves doesn't have elite size, but he makes up for that with his competitiveness and instincts. If Hargreaves falls out of the Top 10 the Bears should be interested.
Myles Jack (LB), UCLA
A month ago you wouldn't see the name Myles Jack outside of the Top 10 in any mock drafts. However, recent reports suggest that Jack's surgically-repaired knee could impact the longevity of his career. Jack is arguably the most talented defensive prospect in this draft and is the type of Swiss Army defensive piece that Vic Fangio could build his defense around. If he somehow makes it all the way down to No. 11, the Bears shouldn't hesitate to select him.
DeForest Buckner (DE), Oregon
Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks and DeForest Buckner. Imagine that defensive front causing havoc in 2016. It's fun to imagine, but it's probably out of the realm of possibility. A lot of dominos would have to fall in the Bears' way for Buckner to slide out of the Top 10. His rare combination of freakish size and athleticism should have any non-quarterback needy team picking in the Top 10 giddy at the opportunity to call him name Thursday evening.
Ronnie Stanley (OT), Notre Dame
Safest Day 1 pick on Thursday? It could be Notre Dame offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley. The three-year starter has been one of the nation's premier pass blockers over the years. There's a chance Stanley could go as high as No. 3 overall to the Chargers or slide even past the Bears pick at No. 11. The Bears seem set on the offensive line and say they like starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr., but Stanley would be an immediate improvement and building block around Kyle Long and Bobby Massie for years to come.
William Jackson III (CB), Houston
William Jackson has gone from a fringe second rounder to a possible Top 15 pick over the last two months. Jackson possesses ideal height and length for an NFL-level starting cornerback. He led the nation in passes defended with 23 and finished with five interceptions in 2015. Playing in a division where you have go up against Aaron Rodgers twice a year you can never have too many talented corners. Jackson could be a wildcard to keep an eye on for the Bears at No. 11.
Jack Conklin (OT), Michigan State
Jack Conklin will likely be the third offensive lineman to come off the board in the first round and should be selected right around the 10-15 range (where the Bears pick). Conklin is one of the most technically sound offensive tackles in the 2016 Draft, but his lack of speed may force teams to use him at right tackle in the NFL. The only way I see the Bears taking a chance on Conklin is if they view him as a starting-caliber left tackle at the next level.
Paxton Lynch (QB), Memphis
There's the big two (Carson Wentz and Jared Goff) and then there's Paxton Lynch. The three-year starter was a nightmare for opposing defenses in the American Athletic Conference to the tune of 30 total touchdowns and over 4,000 total yards in 2015. Lynch has ideal size and fits that "dual-threat" criteria that many GMs are looking for these days. The Bears have met with Lynch and at some point need to find an heir-apparent to Jay Cutler. Lynch is another wildcard to keep an eye on at No. 11 if he's still on the board.
Jarran Reed (DT), Alabama
Plenty of mock drafts have Alabama defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson linked to the Bears at No. 11, but in my opinion his teammate Jarran Reed is the better prospect and fit for the Bears if they're looking for a pure run defender. Reed is elite in that aspect and has shown the ability to push blockers backwards off the ball. The Bears desperately need to keep adding talent to the defensive line and Reed would be another excellent young piece to pair with Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks.