The NFL Draft begins Thursday night, but I’m ready to go now with my early picks for the Bears and Packers at the top of the draft.
If I’m Bears general manager Ryan Pace here’s what I’m doing with my first pick which won’t be until late in the second round (#87 overall). I’m taking Stanford running back Bryce Love. Two years ago as a junior he was a Heisman Trophy finalist. Love rushed for more than 2,100 yards. He’s a homerun hitter. That season he set an FBS record by ripping off 13 runs of 50 or more yards.
When Love was a kid he set national records in the sprint events competing in track & field. We all know how much Pace and Matt Nagy value speed.
So why should Love still be available when the Bears pick in the third round? Because last season he was hampered by injuries and a medicore offensive line. He rushed for only 739 yards and in his last regular season game he tore an ACL.
That knee injury will scare off a lot of teams early in the draft, but it won’t scare Pace in the third round. Remember a knee injury to Eddie Jackson at Alabama didn’t stop Pace from drafting Jackson and he’s now a Pro Bowl player.
Love is also good at catching the football and his character is rated extremely high. Everything about him fits for the Bears. So if I’m Ryan Pace Love is my guy. I might even trade up a few picks to make sure I get love.
Packers’ general manager Brian Gutekunst has a bevy of draft picks to use including two in the first round. Since the Packers went for defense in free agency I’d prop up the offense in the draft. With that first pick (#12 overall) I’m taking Iowa tight end Noah Fant. He’s very fast for a guy who is 6’4 and about 250 pounds. He runs a 4.5 40.
Fant has good hands. He’s fluid running routes. His stats would have been a lot better the last couple seasons if the Hawkeyes didn’t also have another great tight end taking catches away from him in TJ Hockenson.
With the Packers’ second pick in the first round (#30 overall) I’d pick Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom. He’s a pure football player. He shows up ready to go to work. He pulls and runs very well from his guard position. Some people think he’d make a good center in the NFL. He also has some experience playing tackle. Lindstrom would solidity the Packers’ offensive line.
In the second round I’d go for more offense for the Packers. I’d be all over Ohio State receiver Parris Campbell if he’s still on the board. He is a burner with 4.3 speed. He can play the slot and he’s more than comfortable going over the middle. With that speed he’s also dynamite at gaining yards after the catch. Campbell is a faster, better version of former Packer Randall Cobb.
You can see the entire NFL Draft this year on WTVO 17 (ABC). Round one Thursday night begins at 7 p.m. CT. Rounds two and three Friday nght begin at 6 p.m. CT. The coverage of rounds 4-7 will begin at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday.