On Monday night, general managers from around the NFL will sit at their desks, notepads at the ready, as the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State Buckeyes battle it out in the college football national championship game.
Assuming he hasn’t already been driven to madness by rewatching all 16 Chicago Bears games from 2014, new G.M. Ryan Pace will be among those watching. With a team full of holes and question marks as he tries to rebuild the roster, Pace will have his eyes all over the field for this game, and he’ll have no shortage of players to look at.
If you’re looking to join Pace in evaluating the talent on the field, and what these players can do for the Bears, we have a list of players you should keep an eye on.
DL Arik Armstead, Oregon
Armstead doesn’t have the stats that teams like to see in a high draft pick, with only five tackles for loss and two and a half sacks this season, but he is a freakishly athletic player who could become a monster with the right coaching and experience. He’s 6-foot-8, weighs nearly 300 pounds, and on a Bears team that has had a tough time of stopping the run and getting to the quarterback with their front four, he could be a dynamic playmaker that they desperately need.
OT Jake Fisher, Oregon
Projected as a first round pick, Fisher’s stock has been hampered a bit because of an injury he suffered early in the season, but the left tackle for Oregon is still a strong player worth watching on Monday. The Bears have Jermon Bushrod under contract, but drafting a guy like Fisher could provide them with cover when Bushrod moves on, and Fisher could feasibly start in place of Jordan Mills at right tackle for the Bears in 2015.
CB Doran Grant, Ohio State
The Bears will almost certainly have Kyle Fuller and Tim Jennings in the fold as their starting corners next season, but Grant could be an attractive option as a nickel corner. He’s rated in the fourth or fifth round, depending on the scouting service you’re looking at, and he is a ballhawk that defended 14 passes and had five interceptions for Ohio State this season.
WR Devin Smith, Ohio State
With speculation as to the fate of Brandon Marshall in Chicago, Smith could be an attractive candidate to help fill the void if the team decides they’ve had enough of the veteran’s antics. Smith led the Buckeyes with 886 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns this season, and with the Bears picking high in the second round, he could very well be available to them in that spot if they’re going for the best player on the board, rather than trying to fill a specific need.