Bernstein: Bears' 2018 Draft Class Looks Good So Far

November 08, 2018 - 2:05 pm
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(670 The Score) ​The only way to make up for years of bad drafting is by years of good drafting, a big part of which is hoping for some unexpected successes along the way.

By any measure, the Bears rookie class of 2018 can be classified as a strong one halfway through a season and is a reason why they're in first place in the NFC North at 5-3 with designs on a playoff spot in coach Matt Nagy's first year.

Top pick Roquan Smith's strange and lengthy holdout is more of an afterthought with every play he makes from his inside linebacker spot, and there have been many of them: 54 tackles, including four for loss, a forced fumble, two sacks and two quarterback hits. He's moving more instinctively with each game, trusting his eyes and firing himself at ball-carriers as envisioned. There has been nothing in his game so far to take stardom and Pro Bowl appearances off the table if he continues to build on his work.

Second-rounder James Daniels began by splitting reps with Eric Kush before assuming the left guard position as his own and looks like he belongs. Another second-round pick, Anthony Miller has caught 19 passes for three touchdowns in seven games and is similarly appearing more comfortable as he acclimates to a pro offense.

Fourth-round linebacker Joel Iyiegbuniwe has been a regular special teams contributor, and fifth-round defensive tackle Bilal Nichols has been a revelation, notching 11 solo tackles including three for loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, a half-sack and two quarterback hits in rotational playing time in just six games. Meanwhile, Kylie Fitts (sixth round) made the team as a developmental pass rusher and receiver Javon Wims (seventh round) has practiced well enough to already supplant a healthy Kevin White on the active gameday roster.

This is good. This is what's supposed to happen every year, ideally, with the top three picks becoming starters or starter-level players as soon as possible and everybody else contributing.

And with Adam Shaheen soon to return from injury to join draft classmates Mitchell Trubisky, Eddie Jackson and Tarik Cohen, it looks like 2017 wasn't a bad year either. General manager Ryan Pace's last two shots at this are starting to make his recent contract extension look like a solid bet in itself.

Dan Bernstein is a co-host of 670 The Score’s Bernstein & McKnight Show in middays. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_bernstein.​