By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
Usually around this time of year the NFL Draft is an important part of the sports calendar, yet one that could be taken for granted among a lot of action.
In a typical sports spring you got the crowning of men’s and women’s college basketball champions being figured out, Major League Baseball gearing up, playoff action in the NBA and NHL and golf’s first major, The Masters, all in April. This year, though, it’ll be all about the draft, though it itself will be a stripped down affair due to complications brought on by the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Day to day the possibility remains for more changes as our current status is quite unprecedented, but the NFL feels confident it can follow guidelines for social distancing and keep people safe while putting on this event that’s so important to its yearly business. Assuming the show goes on, remember what the NFL Draft means — it is easily the most important amateur draft of all the major sports.
Teams can be adjusted and changed through free agency but no team in the NFL can win a championship without consistent years of good drafting. Most teams get seven picks a year and somehow these picks matter so much. Which sets the stage for the Chicago Bears who are in desperate need of a good draft both for their short term and long term success.
General manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy are scheduled to make seven selections in this draft with representation in the mid-2nd round skipping the 3rd and 4th and remaining picks in the 5th through 7th rounds. Mind you, there is always the possibility that the Bears will make a trade and past draft history suggests that Pace will at some point target a player and want to trade up to get him.
Pace has also traded down before and maybe that again is something to consider if he desires the acquisition of extra picks or if he wants to get more value for a pick after seeing already valued targets being taken before the Bears could reach them. Many possibilities are in play for Chicago, whether the club stays at its current selections or not.
Here, we’ll assume that everything stays as it is now and mock out the Bears’ picks with who I best believe will be available to them at each spot and who will give them the most value at each spot.
- No. 43 (2nd round)
- No. 50 (2nd)
- No. 163 (5th)
- No. 196 (6th)
- No. 200 (6th)
- No. 226 (7th)
- No. 233 (7th)
Every Bears fan knows by now that the team will be without a 1st round pick for the second straight season due to the Khalil Mack trade before the start of the 2018 season.
While the Raiders have a 1st-rounder that could have been the Bears, Chicago is armed with two second round draft picks and assuming there is no blockbuster trade before the 2021 draft, they’ll have all of their picks next year. As I wrote in the intro, Pace may decide to trade up and sneak his way into the back of the first round.
As this mock draft looks at what the Bears would do if I could pull the trigger on the picks, its impossible to ignore the fact that Pace is aggressive in getting players he wants — his overall strategy may be way far afield from anything the average Bear fan has in mind..
In three high-profile instances — outside linebacker Leonard Floyd, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and running back David Montgomery — are examples of starting-level players that Pace went up to get due to targeting them well before the draft. Also, in the 2018 draft Pace tried to trade back into the first round to select wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Almost every year there is an example of the Bears attempting and mostly succeeding in trading up and acquire players. Whether or not the targeted players were worth trading for in hindsight is another issue.
Conversely, there aren’t as many examples of Pace trading down. Logically, with as many holes on the roster as the Bears have, the Bears should consider trading down and acquiring more draft picks to get more players with. But no one at WARR Media will be surprised if Pace does end up taking a player on the first day of the draft via a trade.
With the 1st round taking up all of day one of the draft, day two is where the draft will likely begin for the Bears. Two picks sit for Chicago at Nos. 43 and 50. Assuming the Bears stand pat, with the 43rd pick in the draft, the Chicago Bears select…
Trevon Diggs (CB), Alabama
- Has ideal height weight and length
- Shows talent playing the ball
- Can matchup with big targets
- Still raw at the position
- Didn’t play consistent enough
- Has to get better at tackling
Fit with the Bears: The Bears are in need of another good cornerback next to Kyle Fuller after releasing Prince Amukamara. Some intriguing options exist on the roster but best case scenario is that the options can develop into capable starters. Getting Diggs would give the Bears a likely immediate starter and some potential star power down the road.
After a short wait, the Bears are back on the clock at 50. The defense just got a big boost so Chicago could stand to get itself a big impact player on the offensive side. And with the 50th pick in the draft, the Chicago Bears select…
Jalen Reagor (WR), TCU
- Fluid and explosive
- Playmaker with the ball in his hands
- Can high point the football with a 42 inch vertical
- Needs to finish consistently
- Beating press coverage can be an issue at the next level
- Can get sloppy in route running
Bears Fit: An impact speedster who could take the top off the defense opposite Allen Robinson, Reagor comes in with some question marks but he looks like an ideal fit for the Bears if he is on the board still when the clock starts. Many teams will be enticed with Reagor’s speed and the potential he has as a gimmicky-type player. Immediately teams will have to respect his speed and would be used similarly like former Bears wideout Taylor Gabriel. Nagy would have a lot of fun drawing things up for Reagor especially in the short passing game, screen game and options/handoffs. Getting a playmaking receiver would be a terrific find no matter what the physical profile is.
This will be the busiest day of the three draft days with lots of action and picks to be made — five to be exact, which will do a lot to round the Bears’ roster into its 2020 form. Starting in the 5th round with the 163rd pick in the draft, the Chicago Bears select…
Justin Herron (OT), Wake Forest
- Fluid in the hips
- Quick feet
- Good pad level in the second level
- Needs to add more strength
- Hand work has to improve
- Body control is below average
Bears Fit: Herron comes in as a developmental project for new offensive line coach Juan Castillo. Question marks surround the current starting tackles in Charles Leno and Bobby Massie, but those two are expected to be the starters this year. Also, the Bears do not have a proven backup or “swing” tackle. Herron has more value down the road but he will have a chance to compete right away to lock up the swing tackle spot. A raw prospect at tackle but helping the offensive line is a goal for the Bears to accomplish in the draft, they do so with the selection of Herron.
Moving into the 6th round the Bears have two selections and with the 196th pick in the draft, the Chicago Bears select…
Brian Cole II (S), Mississippi State
- Can be a force in the run game
- Sheds blocks well
- Core special teamer potential
- Needs more experience
- Doesn’t play as well in space
- Has to improve backpedal
Bears Fit: Cole gets the opportunity to compete for a starting spot at the safety position next to Eddie Jackson. There are multiple players already competing for that spot so Cole will have his work cut out for him. That won’t be Cole’s only playing opportunity, he comes in with ability to become a good to core special teamer. Pace usually does a good job at drafting safeties late and perhaps he finds another gem with Cole.
Only a few picks later the Bears are back on the clock. And with the 200th pick in the draft, the Chicago Bears select…
James Morgan (QB), FIU
- Easy arm strength and can make all the throws
- Gets the ball out of his hands quickly
- Flashes major arm talent
- Accuracy questions
- Has issues with mobility and ball security in the pocket
- Needs to work on manipulating safeties with his eyes
Bears Fit: Its very possible that after the Nick Foles trade the Bears are done addressing quarterback this year, but with so many question marks around Mitchell Trubisky and Nick Foles for that matter, it would be really nice to have a developmental project for Nagy. Morgan possess a lot of tools and playing at a smaller school should appeal to the former Delaware QB, Nagy.
Fans hoping a rookie can come in and beat out Trubisky is highly unlikely, Morgan will need time to develop. But an undeniable benefit of this selection is having another option behind two injury-prone quarterbacks on the depth chart.
This bring us to the 7th round where teams select guys who’ll likely become priority free agents. With two selections left, starting with the 226th pick in the draft, the Chicago Bears select…
Kamal Martin (LB), Minnesota
- Plays strong in the hole
- Sheds blocks
- Kick/punt coverage ability
- Not overly fluid in coverage
- Doesn’t play with enough knee bend
- Slow to diagnose
Bears Fit: Losing a couple inside linebackers in free agency has cost the Bears a lot of depth. Bringing in Martin helps add depth and adds more at special teams. Martin continues the theme that Pace wants of competition all throughout the roster.
One last pick left for the Bears, and with the 233rd pick in the draft, the Chicago Bears select…
McTelvin Agim (DT), Arkansas
- Consistently beat guys at the East-West Shrine game
- Huge lower half
- Can play DE as well as DT
- Needs more strength
- Hand placement must improve
- Must refine technique at next level
Bears Fit: Its always a good idea to draft defensive lineman, a position group where depth and affordable talent are always valued. Even with a limited amount of picks, the Bears could get themselves a nice developmental piece for defensive line coach Jay Rodgers.
Agim could become a quality backup or fight for a potential starting role down the line. His value this year will likely come in obvious running situations where a big body is sorely needed.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR