Chicago Bears: Revisiting the 2017 NFL Draft

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

With nearly two full seasons under their belt, we look back at the Chicago Bears 2017 NFL Draft class.

The Chicago Bears 2017 NFL Draft class, which was much maligned at the time, now has nearly two full seasons under their belt. With the announcement of the 2018 Pro Bowl selections, we thought it would be a good time to revisit those selections and the criticism Ryann Pace received after the draft.

Warning: we’re getting ready to pull a lot of receipts here, so consider yourself warned. Some draft “experts” are about to get exposed like Janet Jackson at a Super Bowl halftime show. So if you’re the kind of person that loves seeing old, terrible hot takes dredged up and exposed through the antiseptic power of the internet, then this one’s for you.

But before we begin, a history lesson is probably in order. For Bears fans, the 2017 Draft represented a watershed moment. Consequently, most, if not all Bears fans, can likely tell you where they were when Chicago made their first-round pick. I can close my eyes and remember everything about the moment I learned the Bears had traded up for the No.2 overall pick.

I immediately thought, like many, the pick was going to be Solomon Thomas. And my first reaction was that they gave up way too much to move up for him. Remember, the Bears gave up their No. 3 overall pick along with their 2017 third-round pick, a 2017 fourth-round pick, and a 2018 third-round pick.

However, I, again like many others, did not expect them to select a quarterback. When they did, I was all-in on Mitch Trubisky. In my mind, there was no price too costly to move up for a franchise quarterback. The question was whether he would turn into one — more on that later. I was also excited to watch as much film on him as possible. But there was a lot of draft left, as Ryan Pace still had four more total picks to make.

Those picks ended up being Adam Shaheen (Rd. 2, No. 45), Eddie Jackson (Rd. 4, No. 112), Tarik Cohen (Rd. 4, No. 119), and Jordan Morgan (Rd. 5, No. 147).

Afterward, Pace got skewered for not only trading up for Trubisky but for his overall draft. In fact, I believe the exact words used were that John Lynch “fleeced” Pace and the Bears. There were even some (who shall remain nameless because they wouldn’t put their name to the statement) who were convinced Pace would be fired because of this draft.

But the coup de gras came from none other than WalterFootball, who is known for its mock drafts. Apparently, it also assigns team grades (though not very well from the looks of it) after the draft. Looking back at its grade for the Bears 2017 draft is borderline comical at this point, so let’s take a look at some of the highlights for a few laughs.

First, they gave Chicago an overall grade of “F.”

The draft guru who penned this piece went on to assert that, “the Bears didn’t accomplish anything outside of setting their franchise back five years.”

It appears the site uses a metric to judge really bad draft picks called a “Millen grade” which seems like an obvious shot at former Detroit Lions general manager Matt Millen. But they gave three of the Bears’ picks a “Millen grade.” Which leads me to ask the obvious question, what is the draft analyst equivalent of a Millen grade, because whoever wrote this evaluation deserves them in spades.

I actually wish, for the author’s sake, that their analysis ended there. But this poor sap got out his or her shovel and dug themselves a hole until their hands bled. Want proof? How about the statement that “Chicago may have obtained the worst prospective NFL Draft class of all time.” Not enough? How about their conclusion that “this is the easiest “F” team grade I’ve ever given. I’m not even naming it a Millen. It’s that bad.”

Woof. Talk about a monumental miss. I’m not sure anyone has been more wrong in the history of being right and wrong about things. That’s how bad that assessment was.

To be fair, we are only two years removed from the draft, so while these players are showing tremendous promise, it must come with the caveat that a lot can change over the course of their careers. But the early returns certainly suggest this was a home run draft class for Pace.

That’s because two of those players (Jackson and Cohen) were elected to their first Pro Bowl this season. Jackson looks like a bona fide star and prior to his injury, was even getting some publicity as a defensive player of the year candidate. And what else can you say about Cohen, who has turned into one of the most electric and dynamic offensive players in the game.

In addition, Trubisky has been selected as a Pro Bowl alternate, and Adam Shaheen has started to emerge as a legitimate receiving threat since returning from his injury.

Next. 3 takeaways from Bears' Pro Bowl selections. dark

In other words, this is far from the worst draft class of all time (R.I.P. to that draft analyst). In fact, if anything it demonstrated Pace’s acute ability to not only recognize mid-to-late round talent, but also his prowess as an effective negotiator.

Again, the prudent thing to do would be to withhold a final determination, at least for a few more years, but at this moment, the arrows are pointing up for virtually every one of Pace’s picks. The fact that 60 percent of that class is either a Pro Bowl selectee or alternate is incredibly impressive, and yet another feather in the cap of Ryan Pace.