Why the Chicago Bears should draft Quenton Nelson in the first round

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears have several pressing questions arising on their offensive line. Drafting Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson would be a resounding answer.

Back when I wrote about Chicago Bears draft needs, I listed offensive line as an “honorable mention”-type need in the 2018 NFL Draft.

With each passing week, however, it looks like the offensive line is slowly rising to the top of the list as far as roster questions go.

Yes, the Bears do need another edge rusher and some wide receivers, and I expect them to address those spots early in the draft. Also, this draft runs pretty deep at receiver, so I think a good player can be found in the third or fourth round there.

More and more, however, I think the Chicago Bears must strongly consider addressing their offensive line situation with their first pick. Yes, even if that pick is inside the top 10, it should be on their radar.

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Of course, I would also be fine with getting an edge rusher (namely Bradley Chubb). But while the defense needs a few playmakers, the offense BADLY needs a booster just about everywhere except quarterback and running back. And while Cody Whitehair has started to play like himself again lately, every other offensive line position holds question marks.

Specifically, I think that there’s one player that could make this Chicago Bears front a force: Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson.

I’m aware that offensive guards don’t normally go in the top ten picks of the draft. Then again, not all guards come into the draft heralded as being better than most NFL guards right now.

I recently talked about Nelson’s impact on Notre Dame’s offense and the fact that he was arguably more important than much-praised left tackle Mike McGlinchey, who will also be selected in the first round of the 2018 draft. And if the scouts are right about him, Nelson could have a massive impact on this Bears team.

For example, I think Nelson probably projects at least as well as, if not better than, Dallas’ Zack Martin (also from Notre Dame), who went 16th overall in 2014 and has made three straight Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams. His addition to that lineup has helped transform the Dallas Cowboys offense, paving the way for Ezekiel Elliott and allowing Dak Prescott to develop.

Doesn’t adding a player like that sound wonderful for Mitch Trubisky’s development?

Like, most of you are down with Whitehair, right? Well, this guy is better. And you could put them next to each other for like eight to ten years.

Not only will he provide necessary protection for Trubisky, but he’d be a force in the run game as well. Given how bad the Bears’ running game has been of late, I think Nelson could really help.

And perhaps most importantly, the Chicago Bears have serious issues at guard now that have to be addressed.

For one thing, we no longer know how much football we can get from Kyle Long. As tough as he is, his nagging shoulder and ankle injuries cast doubts on his long-term future. At age 29, how much longer can he fight through it and play at a high level? I believe Long has a few years of good football left, of course, but these questions are worth asking.

Also, as evidenced by their efforts to trade him, Josh Sitton may be a candidate to get cut next fall. If they did release him, they’d save $8 million. With him about to turn 33 and also having injury issues, the Bears may very well want to make that move. Drafting Nelson would make it easier.

Plus, selecting Nelson would hopefully, assuming Kyle Long or someone like Eric Kush could start opposite him, allow Whitehair to stay at center instead of moving around to cover multiple positions.

We’ll never really know, but I think that messed with him a lot earlier this season. Once he got settled in at center, his play started to improve. Let’s keep it that way. Besides, I don’t think I need to see more of Hroniss Grasu.

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In short, Nelson offers both a chance at perennial excellence and stability at the offensive line position. And that’s something the Chicago Bears should desperately want.

For the sake of their young quarterback and his future, they certainly should.