The Chicago Bears’ acquisition of Khalil Mack was a thing of beauty last season, but it didn’t come without consequence. As a result of the trade they were bereft of their first round selection (24th overall) and their sixth round selection, whilst the deal will continue to wound them in 2020 as they also traded away their first and third round selections in that year’s Draft too.
Regardless, the Bears still had a variety of selections to pluck talent off the board, which they did to good effect. So, without further ado, let’s break down those selections.
David Montgomery – Iowa State – RD 3, #72
A three-star recruit exiting high school, Montgomery proved his doubters wrong and himself right after three years at the collegiate level.
After electing to sign for Iowa State ahead of Purdue, Indiana and Marshall, he rose to prominence as one of the best running backs nationally in the 2017 and 2018 campaigns.
In the 2017 season, his Sophomore year, Montgomery accumulated 1146 yards and 11 touchdowns on 258 carries, whilst he proved to be a dual-threat back out of the backfield by adding 296 yards on 36 receptions. As a result of his production, he was named to the First Team All-Big-12 side, and was also named a First Team All-American.
In the following campaign, he ranked second in the nation for rushing touchdowns (13), whilst he registered 1216 yards on 257 rushing attempts across the season. He was once again named a First Team All-American selection for his efforts.
Aside from his statistical production, Montgomery’s talent is undeniable. He boasts exquisite contact balance, which allows for him to welcome contact and remain stout in his run. Furthermore, he couples that with adequate speed and solid shiftiness which makes him a nightmare to conclude the tackle upon. One of the most valuable areas to his game is his ability in pass protection. His sturdy frame make him an immovable object at times, whilst he provides constant effort.
Montgomery will serve as THE perfect replacement to Jordan Howard, if not an improvement. He excels as a pass protector, yet can dominate as a rusher. In addition to those qualities, he can be a valuable asset as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, something head coach Matt Nagy often utilities.
Riley Ridley – Georgia – RD 4, #126
Mitchell Trubisky severely lacked help at the wide receiver position ahead of the 2019 season, thus they took Georgia Bulldog Riley Ridley in the fourth round.
Ridley completed three years at the collegiate level, all of which he excelled within. Through 11 games as a freshman in 2016, he caught just 12 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. As a sophomore, he had 14 receptions for 218 yards and two touchdowns. Then in his third and final campaign, Ridley dominated as he registered 43 receptions for 559 yards and nine touchdowns.
On top of his statistical contributions, he’s truly a fantastic athlete. At 6’1”, 199lbs, Ridley possesses a superb catch radius, whilst his speed and acceleration is not hampered by his frame. This is best evidenced by his 4.58s time in the 40-yard dash at the Combine.
Furthermore, he’s as polished a receiver as you’ll find as a route runner, whilst he boasts huge upside considering his ranking in the Draft. I, for one, truly cannot wait to see Ridley in Bears uniform, as he hopes to emulate the successes of his brother, Calvin.
Duke Shelley – Kansas State – RD 6, #205
The Bears’ selection of Duke Shelley will add depth at the cornerback position, as they gear up to continue their reputation as one of the scariest defences in the NFL.
Shelley, who completed four years at Kansas State, concluded his collegiate career with 165 tackles and 8 interceptions.
Whilst he didn’t quite have a breakout campaign in his senior year due to a toe injury seven games into the 2018 season, Shelley’s 2017 season was one to be proud of. In it he compiled 56 combined tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 2 interceptions and 1 touchdown. For his efforts he was named an All-Conference Honourable Mention.
At 5’9”, Shelley is undersized for his position. Moreover, he has several weaknesses in that he can get beat inside due to a lack of playcall awareness, whilst his utilisation at the collegiate level ultimately renders him fairly one-dimensional at this point. That said, he is evidently a ball-hawking corner who has the ability to create game-altering plays. Besides that skill, he is fast, quick-footed and well polished in his technique.
I doubt that Shelley will be a key contributor on defence this season, but he could be an integral player for seasons to come.
Kerrith Whyte Jr. – Florida Atlantic – RD 7, #222
Somewhat bewilderingly, the Bears elected to take another running back with the first of their seventh round picks, as they selected Kerrith Whyte Jr. 222nd overall.
Whyte spent the majority of his collegiate career as the backup to Devin Singletary at Florida Atlantic University. Despite that fact, he still recorded relatively large numbers, having collected 232 total carries for 1,358 yards and 11 touchdowns. Additionally, he produced positive results in the pass game, as he amassed 22 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Perhaps most impressively, he dominated as a kick returner after returning 81 kickoffs for 2115 yards and two scores, whilst he averaged 26.1 yards per attempt.
Whyte’s ability as a pass protector leaves little to be desired, as does his gap awareness in his running. However, he has tremendous upside to be a unique offensive weapon for his new team. This is because of his immense special teams prowess and his ability to gain yardage from the backfield, whether that be running or receiving the ball. Sure, he boasts limitations, but those can be fixed with efficient coaching, something the Bears do not lack in the slightest.
In conclusion, I’m a big fan of this pick.
Stephen Denmark – Valdosta State – RD 7, #238
Well folks, the Bears elected to draft two players from the same position twice out of their five selections, unbelievably.
Stephen Denmark, a three-year starting wide receiver converted cornerback, was taken off the board 238th overall, but what does he have to offer?
Well, at 6’3” he is a larger cornerback than the majority. As well as that, Denmark possesses unrivalled athleticism, good speed and is a consistently solid tackler. Statistically speaking, he garnered 55 tackles last season, whilst he changed the game with 3 INT’s in the 2018 campaign which saw Valdosta State win the NCAA Division II crown.
Ultimately, Denmark’s greatest challenge at the next level will be grasping his role on the Bears’ defence. Film studying and offensive playcalling knowledge will be of the upmost importance, but if he can familiarise himself with that then he could genuinely contribute for seasons to come.
The 2019 NFL Draft haul for the Bears wasn’t flashy, nor did it make headline news. Their selections were very well thought out, although I was initially taken aback by their decision to select two players from the same position not once but twice.
I look forward to witnessing how Whyte and Denmark develop particularly, whilst I truly believe Riley Ridley is destined for a breakout year this forthcoming season.
Statistical Credits: sports-reference.com, cyclones.com, nfl.com, georgiadogs.com