2018 NFL Draft: Could Notre Dame’s St. Brown be on radar for Chicago Bears?

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

 If the Chicago Bears want an impact wide receiver early in the 2018 NFL Draft, Notre Dame’s Equanimeous St. Brown might be a great fit.

The Chicago Bears might only be halfway through this season, but it’s definitely not too early to discuss their draft needs/plans for next season.

Fortunately, the Bears do have some pieces that should, in theory, stay solidified for a few years barring injury setbacks. As such, maybe they’re not quite as far away from competing meaningfully as we think.

They probably need a new right tackle, but their offensive line is more or less set for now. They have their running backs and a bevy of tight ends.

And defensively, they have solid players at every level, including emerging stars in Akiem Hicks and Eddie Jackson. Their corner play looks solid at the moment, with Prince Amukamara and Kyle Fuller holding down their positions well if not spectacularly. Plus, Leonard Floyd has the capability, at least, of being a monster.

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So far, their play has turned the Bears into the sixth-ranked defense in the league in terms of yards per game.

But if the Chicago Bears want to make the leap from average (at best) to good, they need upgrades at two major spots: edge rusher and wide receiver.

And while edge rusher likely will, and should be, their first pick in this year’s draft, the wide receiver position absolutely MUST be addressed highly in the draft. After all, you can’t make due with the fifth-worst passing offense in the league forever.

Assuming the Chicago Bears take a receiver as early as the first two rounds, many intriguing options will present themselves.

Here, I’ll start off with one that I’ve seen quite a bit of that I believe could easily play Week 1 next year: Equanimeous St. Brown of Notre Dame.

Why the Bears should draft “EQ”

After an electric sophomore campaign catching passes from DeShone Kizer last year, St. Brown has fallen off the radar a bit this year.

With Brandon Wimbush struggling and battling injury, the wide receiver’s stats haven’t been spectacular this year (just 15 catches for 211 yards). One wonders if that lack of production might drive the intriguing St. Brown from a first-round pick into the second round.

If that happens, the Chicago Bears might get a steal that could help out Mitch Trubisky next year.

Physically, the first thing that stands out about St. Brown is his size at 6’5″, 205 pounds. He certainly could stand to add little muscle on his lanky frame to help him beat physical NFL coverage, but his height, length and athleticism make for an impressive catch radius when he uses it.

Plus, he runs some impressive routes for a big receiver, which should immediately make him attractive to the Bears. In fact, his game reminds me somewhat of Meredith in that regard, though St. Brown arguably produces more big plays.

But he’s not just a possession guy: he has speed and big-play ability to spare. He’s clocked in the 4.4s in the 40-yard dash and has proven hard to catch once he gets out and running in the open.

Also, I have no doubt that St. Brown would impress Ryan Pace in the “mental makeup” department, as he’s as intelligent a kid as you could hope for. That would only help him make the transition to running an NFL offense that much quicker.

St. Brown’s main issue, in regards to scouts, is his catching mechanics, as he largely acts as body-catcher despite his size. This leads to both contested and, occasionally, uncontested drops at times.

Interestingly, he absolutely has the hands to pluck difficult throws out of the air or off the turf, but he has to actually use them away from his body. Improving on that will immediately make him a much better player, and he’s already pretty good.

While he doesn’t necessarily scream No. 1 wide receiver to me right now, St. Brown would easily be the second-best receiver on this Bears team right now behind only a healthy Cameron Meredith. Ultimately, I’d expect that St. Brown could become a very good second option or a second-tier WR1.

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If I had to guess, I’d say that St. Brown probably will end up projecting as a late-first round, high-second round pick. That should be right in the Chicago Bears’ wheelhouse next year if they intend to take a pass rusher first.

He might not be the biggest name out there (though he undoubtedly has the best name), but he’d immediately help a Bears team in need of reliable targets in the passing game. With his route-running, speed and big frame, I’d love to see what Trubisky could do with him.