By Greg Gabriel--
(CBS) In recent days, I have gotten a number of questions asking me what players will be available to select at the Bears' No. 11 overall pick in the NFL Draft come April 28. Some have passed along the theory that are are only eight or nine quality players, so the Bears are in no man's land at No. 11.
Such statement are ridiculous, as there's still nearly four weeks before the draft and not a single person who can accurately guess what the first 10 selections will be.
For starters, there are far more than eight or nine quality players. Second, no two clubs' draft boards are alike. Third, there will likely be a trade or two before the Bears select, and that will throw off the selection process as to who will be taken.
Just go back to last year and look at the top five selections. The first four picks generally went according to form, but at No. 5, Washington selected Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff. I doubt you can find a draftnik in America who had Scherff going in the top 10, let alone the top five. Surprises like this happen every year, and clubs just have to be patient for a good player to fall to them.
Looking at this year's draft, the Bears will hope that at least two quarterbacks go in the top 10. I believe that's a lock, as both Carson Wentz and Jared Goff could be selected by the fifth pick. If that happens, there could be a mad rush for the third legitimate first-round quarterback -- Memphis' Paxton Lynch.
The only one of these quarterbacks that I view as a legitimate top-10 pick is Wentz, but when you're talking quarterbacks, you must consider the supply-and-demand factor. If you don't have one, you have to find a way to get one. So if Wentz and Goff go in the top five, the other clubs planning on taking a quarterback may try and move up to get Lynch. That scenario could mean three quarterbacks are taken in the top 10, and that would open up some high-quality players at other positions to the Bears.
When preparing for the draft, you must be prepared for the worst-case scenario. If that happens and you're still content in that scenario, then your club is in good shape. If you aren't content with the worst-case scenario, trying to trade back is the next step.
The preparations to move back have to be done days in advance. About a week before the draft, clubs will begin making calls to the teams behind them to alert them that they may be willing to trade down. On draft night, the clubs that were called previously will anticipate getting a call. Preparation is of the utmost importance. If you wait until draft day to make a decision, you could be in big trouble because you just weren't prepared. That causes poor decisions to be made.
In 2006 when I was with the Bears, we made the decision to trade out of the first round days before the start of the draft. We made calls to alert clubs that we may want to trade down. When the draft came, we had four or five teams bidding for our late first-round pick. Making that trade allowed us to draft Devin Hester.
Getting back to this year, the Bears will most likely have a list of about four players who they're comfortable drafting at No. 11. They will prioritize those players one through four and when they're on the clock, they will most likely chose the best player in that group.
If all four of the players are still available to them at 11, they could chose to move back a few slots, pick up an extra draft pick and still be able to draft one of the four.
Who could those four players be? We don't really know the answer, but we can come up with some good guesses. In fact, I could probably come up with as many as six players who can step in and help the Bears.
Notre Dame left tackle Ronnie Stanley is a possibility, but after his pro day, that possibility isn't as likely. Stanley has the talent to become a perennial Pro Bowl-type player. He also could be a huge disappointment. The knocks on him are his work ethic and drive to become a great player. His play from one down to the next can be inconsistent. Still, when he's on his game, he's just about as good as any tackle in college football.
Another possibility is Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott. As good as Elliott is, I wouldn't like that selection. When I was with the Bears, we took Cedric Benson fourth overall in 2005, and three running backs were drafted in the top five that year. That was 11 years ago, and the game has changed and with it the value of the running back position. It's not smart to draft a running back that high in the first round unless he has Adrian Peterson "special" to him. Elliott's talented, but he's not at that lofty level.
Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson is a player who may be there at 11. While Lawson played as a 4-3 defensive end in college, he can easily convert to a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL. In today's game, that conversion is easy because regardless of what scheme the club plays, Lawson's going to be predominantly an edge pass rusher. The question on Lawson is his injured shoulder. It's not clear how serious that could be in the long term. It may be nothing, but teams' medical staffs will check it out thoroughly.
Florida's Vernon Hargreaves is considered the second-best cornerback in this draft, and I love the way he challenges receivers with his physical presence. The problem with the Bears picking Hargreaves pick is he doesn't really fit the mold of what defensive coordinator Vic Fangio likes at the position. Fangio wants tall corners with long arms. Hargreaves is only 5-foot-10, so the Bears would have to break away from the profile they have set up for the position.
Alabama defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson is an ideal 5-technique in the Bears' scheme. Robinson has unlimited upside because of his age, having just turned 21. When you watch the Crimson Tide film, you notice that they rotate their defensive linemen. Because of that, Robinson doesn't register the numbers that some defensive linemen do. I don't worry about that, because I can see the talent. In 2004 with the Bears, we drafted Tommie Harris, who also played in a rotation and didn't have great stats. Before injuries curtailed his career, Harris was the best 3-technique in the NFL.
A sixth possibility for Chicago is Michigan State offensive tackle Jack Conklin, who's rated ahead of Stanley on some teams' draft boards. While he may not look as athletic as Stanley, Conklin tested out to be a far better athlete in all areas. He's also a nasty player with a high degree of competitiveness.
Assuming that Joey Bosa, Laremy Tunsil, Jalen Ramsey, DeForest Buckner, Myles Jack, Wentz and Goff are gone in some fashion in the top 10, the Bears will get a look at three or four of the six players I mentioned. Any of those players will upgrade the Bears and make them a better team than they are today.
Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who is an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.
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