While it currently looks as though the NFL will be going full steam ahead with its 2020 season, there’s still a slight — albeit very slight — chance the season could be delayed, postponed, or called off somehow due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Despite growing optimism a full season will take place, several voices in and around the league remain unsure, including Raiders owner Mark Davis, who said just a few days ago that cancelling the entire season is still very much in the cards. The league also went from four preseason games to two, and then to none, so things could still change.
While it’s clear the league, majority of players and fans want to see football this fall, the reality of a global pandemic could still curtail things — and if the season were to be cancelled in full, or even partially cancelled, the Chicago Bears are one team who could benefit the most.
Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports posed three possible scenarios for the 2021 NFL Draft should this season get cancelled: 1. Teams would keep the same draft order they had in 2020, which Edholm says would be arguably the most unlikely and “problematic” scenario, 2. a lottery system in which “teams that had missed the playoffs each of the previous three seasons and those that had not earned the top overall selection the prior four years [would be] given the most lottery balls,” and 3. Averaging each team’s win totals over the last three years, or taking an average of their first-round draft positions over the past three seasons. The latter two scenarios could be good for the Bears — especially the lottery system.
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Bears Could Benefit From Draft Lottery, Take QB Prospect in First-Round
Of the three scenarios Edholm mentions, a draft lottery could allow the Bears to snag one of the top quarterbacks likely to be available, including Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and yes — even Trevor Lawrence.
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A lottery like this has happened in sports before — for the NHL in 2005. Using this model, teams that have missed the playoffs the last three years would get three lottery balls, teams that had one playoff appearance or the first overall pick in that time would receive two lottery balls (the Bears would get two), with remaining teams receiving one ball. Yahoo ran 10 different draft simulations using these rules, and the Bears landed a top-10 draft pick three out of the 10.
In one simulation, the Bears landed the sixth overall pick — which high should be enough to snag the likes of Fields or Lance. If they got really lucky, and this method was selected for the draft, Chicago could also land the top overall pick, with Lawrence the presumable prize there.
Bears Could Also Get Great QB in This Scenario…
The third situation listed by Edholm is also intriguing — it could work out quite well for Chicago if the league looked solely at recent draft positions over the last three years.
This model would “average out the first-round draft positions (before picks were traded) for every team over the past three years. That gives us a potential 2021 order of: 1. Browns 2. Bengals 3. Jets 4. Giants T5. Bears T5. Chargers 7. Colts 8. Washington 9. Cardinals 10. Dolphins 11. Panthers T12. Broncos T12. Buccaneers T14. Jaguars T14. 49ers 16. Lions 17. Raiders 18. Rams (traded to Jaguars) 19. Bills 20. Texans (traded to Dolphins) 21. Ravens 22. Saints 23. Cowboys 24. Eagles 25. Vikings 26. Seahawks 27. Titans T28. Falcons T28. Packers 30. Steelers 31. Chiefs 32. Patriots.”
So, in two of these three most likely potential draft scenarios, the Bears could end up with a top six pick, and in the third scenario, their trade for Khalil Mack wouldn’t hurt them near as much. There’s no doubt the Bears and their fans want an NFL season, but at the very least, should the season get cancelled or postponed, Chicago could possibly benefit if the NFL Draft is done differently next year.
Again — the NFL season will very likely happen; the league stands to lose too much money if it doesn’t, and the great majority of players want to play the game they love. But we’re in unprecedented times, and a cancellation of the season is entirely possible — and it could lead to the Bears finally landing their quarterback of the future.