Bears should have chance to land top talent

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The Bears traded away their first two picks in this year’s draft. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to land an impact player with their first selection—at No. 87 late in the third round.

Recent history suggests that there will be top talent available in the cluster—or “cloud” as general manager Ryan Pace refers to it—where the Bears are picking.

Over the last 10 years, eight players drafted at Nos. 85-89 have been voted to the Pro Bowl. That includes the 2017 Super Bowl MVP in quarterback Nick Foles, the NFL’s leading rusher in 2017 in running back Kareem Hunt and Bears standout defensive tackle Akiem Hicks.

Hicks was chosen by the Saints—when Pace worked for New Orleans—at No. 89 in 2012, one pick after the Eagles selected Foles. The 6-5, 332-pounder has emerged as a star with the Bears over the past three seasons, recording 163 tackles, 23.0 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and 38 tackles-for-loss while starting all 48 games.

“Ryan Pace was one of the guys who drafted me into New Orleans,” Hicks said Wednesday during an appearance on the “Mully & Haugh Show” on WSCR-AM 670. “We had a little joke going that you struck gold in the third round in 2012 when you drafted me. You’re going to have to go back again and dig in there and get a gem.”

Hunt was chosen by the Chiefs at No. 86 in 1987. Other players who have been voted to the Pro Bowl after being picked in the same “cloud” include tight end Jared Cook (89th by the Titans in 2009), receiver Andre Roberts (88th by the Cardinals in 2010), tight end Jordan Reed (85th by the Redskins in 2013), running back David Johnson (86th by the Cardinals in 2015) and defensive end Danielle Hunter (88th by the Vikings in 2015).

Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who led the Packers with a career-high 10.5 sacks last season, was selected by Green Bay at No. 88 in 2016.

In the last 10 drafts, there have been 64 players picked after No. 87 who have been voted to the Pro Bowl. The list consists of nine running backs, eight receivers, six linebackers, six safeties, five tight ends, five defensive ends, four quarterbacks, four defensive tackles, four cornerbacks, four punters, three offensive tackles, two fullbacks, two kickers, one guard and one center.

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