5. DT/DE Bilal Nichols, Delaware, Round 5, 145th overall
Of all the Bears day three picks, it’s clear that Bilal Nichols had the biggest impact. With five tackles for loss, eight quarterbacks, three sacks and two forced fumbles, Nichols is on track to push for a starting job in 2019 when training camp opens.
In a 3-4 scheme, Nichols offers versatility as he can play inside as a defensive tackle or lineup on the outside as a defensive end. In 2018, a majority of his plays came from the lining up at defensive end.
The one thing that makes Nichols so valuable is his relentless work ethic and nonstop effort to keep going until he hears the whistle blown. While Nichols isn’t exactly a top-tier pass rusher, he is very strong against the run.
The one area where Nichols can improve is his quickness at the point of attack. Doing so will allow him to be much more disruptive. Even if Nichols is unable to improve his get-off, the Bears can still benefit as he does create opportunities for others to make plays.
When training camp does roll around, it won’t be a surprise to see Nichols challenging Jonathan Bullard or Roy Robertson-Harris for the Bears starting defensive end opposite Akiem Hicks. Although he lacks the traits needed to be a natural pass rusher, he does have the ability to develop into a solid one, but not top-tier.