Thursday, May 10, 2018

Can Bilal Nichols Equal a Dime for the Chicago Bears?

The Chicago Bears were a team last year that was bad on offense and not very good on defense, but they weren't very bad either. The team invested heavily in the offense during free agency and continued that with two of their first three picks. After that, the focus was clearly defense. They had already added two linebackers in the first four rounds, so in round five, they added some beef by drafting Delaware Defensive Tackle, Bilal Nichols.

Since there isn't a whole lot of tape of Delaware, I went to the tale of the tape to see how Bilal Nichols performed at the combine. When I looked up the numbers, one thing was clear: Nichols tore it up.

Maybe the most important thing is that Broad Jump number as that shows the explosiveness that he possesses as an athlete. Nichols is not a big player for defensive tackle, but with that explosion, he could be very valuable rushing the passer from the interior.

Luckily, and incredibly surprising, Bilal Nichols has game tape on YouTube. Not only that, it's against a legitimate opponent with his performance against Virginia Tech.

Although Nichols is a good athlete, he doesn't really have any pass rushing moves. It was mostly just push and hope for the best. Occasionally, he would just fall back and spy the quarterback. Part of this may have been that he was playing out of position as a nose tackle the majority of the time which is not a role I see him fulfilling at the next level.

Although he wasn't lighting it up with highlight reel plays, the positive was that he seemed to show good hustle throughout the game and seems to have a good motor on him. On this play, that motor paid off.

It's not exactly some great highlight as the center does enough on 99% of plays, but good on Nichols for continuing to work and finding his way to the quarterback.

Conclusion
Nichols is a good athlete with a good motor and not much for moves. Since he went to a smaller school, it may be likely that he didn't get the best coaching so maybe the Bears can tap into that potential. Also, the Bears will almost definitely shy away from lining him up as a nose guard which should give him more of an opportunity to be a playmaker. Right now, I don't see him as anything more than defensive line depth, but he could carve out a larger role down the line.

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