As the NFL draft approaches, the Chicago Bears say they've narrowed their list to three players they could choose at No. 3 overall on Thursday night.
"We have three names right now that we like," Bears general manager Ryan Pace told reporters Wednesday. "But go further into that, we have a group of names, a cloud of names in the middle of the first round, and a cloud of names in the later part of the first round. So as scenarios present themselves, you can prepare: If we go back mid-first round, here's the group of players we're talking about that we like, that we think realistically will be there. If we go back later in the first round, here's another group of players we realistically think'll be there. It's just kind of going over those scenarios right now."
Pace could be bluffing about the actual number of names, but the Bears are known to like Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas, LSU safety Jamal Adams and Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore. Ohio State safety Malik Hooker also fills a need. But while many teams are comfortable with Hooker's medicals following a pair of offseason surgeries, it's impossible to know how keen the Bears are in taking a player with a little medical baggage at No. 3 overall in light of the Kevin White fiasco.
Teams covet pass-rushers, so drafting Thomas -- if he falls past San Francisco at No. 2 -- makes a lot of sense. Vic Fangio, who previously coached at Stanford on the same staff with David Shaw, is good enough at his craft to find a role for Thomas, who some believe is best suited to play in the 4-3. Generally speaking, though, talent trumps scheme. Therefore, it's a good bet Fangio can make it work with Thomas in the 3-4.
Adams or Lattimore would also fill needs. Drafting a safety at No. 3 is not the norm in the NFL, but Adams was a terrific tackler and leader at LSU. People who've been around Adams report that his personality and charisma light up the room. The Bears need a field general at safety, especially because they face Aaron Rodgers twice a year.
As for Lattimore, he's generally regarded as the best cornerback in the draft class. Although the Bears are paying good money to Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in 2017, they still need to think about the future. Amukamara is on a one-year deal, and Cooper had a breakout year in Arizona last season but isn't exactly considered among the best corners in the game.
The Bears would also consider trading the pick, if possible, but that's often easier said than done. There is a decent likelihood the Bears stay at No. 3, and if they do, Thomas, Adams or Lattimore are all logical choices to consider.