Read Ryan’s first Bears seven-round mock draft here
By Ryan Bukowiecki (@ryanbski)
NFL Draft Week is upon us and in short order all the festivities will begin (Thursday, 7 pm, on several channels).
The draft has become one of the most buzz worthy events of any major sports off-season and it stands particularly alone with buzz this year with only a Bulls documentary series rivaling it at the moment.
Like with “The Last Dance” a unique mix of hope and despair comes from the draft because to have any sustained success as a team you need to draft well. Here in Chicago, the Bears are coming off a very busy free agency that brought help to some notably lacking positions (quarterback, pass rusher and tight end). These moves have allowed the Bears to be in a better position to draft for talent and not desperate need.
Even though the moves have strengthened the team, the Bears right now do not feel like Super Bowl contenders. But if the free agency moves work out and the team can add a few immediate impact rookies then maybe contention isn’t too far away. We all know that anything can happen in the NFL and with a pandemic being thrown on top of the typical unpredictability with the draft, perhaps its more a roll of the dice than ever. To get everyone in an informed position for Thursday night, here is our final mock draft for the Chicago Bears.
In this mock the Bears will stay silent on day one and not move into the first round of the draft. Of course, we’re not actually in the teleconferencing War Room the Bears are setting up so there could still be a chance they’ll have a target or two they’d like to move up for.
General manager Ryan Pace has enough ammunition to trade up into the first but not as much as in a typical year and potentially losing future picks means added heat for him if that pick is a bust. Therefore in a very crucial off-season for Pace this mock has him holding still until pick 43. The clock starts at 43 and the Bears should start the draft by adding some offensive help.
- No. 43 (2nd round)
- No. 50 (2nd)
- No. 163 (5th)
- No. 196 (6th)
- No. 200 (6th)
- No. 226 (7th)
- No. 233 (7th)
Pick No. 43 — Cole Kmet (TE), Notre Dame
- Shows talent at blocking
- Gets open downfield
- Great catch radius and good hands
- Needs to add bulk
- Still working on the finer points of route running
- Blocking technique leaves plenty of room for improvement
Fit with the Bears: Maybe not the sexiest pick, but the Bears get one of the best tight ends in the draft and a local product out of Lake Barrington. Although the Bears have added a host of tight ends this off-season, the question is if they have the right player or players. Adding Jimmy Graham and losing Trey Burton is probably a slight upgrade at best. The heart of head coach Matt Nagy’s offense is involves an emphasis on the tight end position.
Adding Kmet brings in a player that has potential to become a very good blocking and receiving tight end, something Nagy is desperately needing. Kmet won’t have the pressure of being the main tight end and has some time to develop in a contributing role.
Pick No. 50 — Jeremy Chinn (S), Southern Illinois
- Physically gifted
- Sheds blockers and plays ball carriers well
- Disruptive at the catch point and can take the ball away
- Questionable instincts and football IQ right now
- Must improve reading keys quickly
- Has to work on his coverage technique
Bears Fit: The Bears are in the market for a defensive back in this draft but the question is would they address corner or safety first?
With Eddie Jackson established at free safety, he needs an in the box safety to compliment his play like he had with safety Adrian Amos. Chinn is an in the box safety but with upside to become much more dynamic than that. Of course cornerback is an option here without an obvious replacement for cornerback Prince Amukamara.
Also, in 2018, the Bears were first in the NFL against the run but fell to ninth in 2019. Part of the drop off was due to the loss of Amos and losing him forced Jackson to play more in the box. Drafting Chinn would be a case where it moves the rest of the defensive guys back into the right positions to make plays.
Day three comes with a lot of work ahead, the Bears need to fill out some key positions and find themselves another player that can contribute in his rookie year. Pace has done a pretty good job of getting day three players that can come in and contribute right away. Its arguably been his best attribute as a drafter and the team needs it badly this year having only two picks in the top 150. The Bears come back on the clock at No. 163.
Pick No. 163 — Quintez Cephus (WR), Wisconsin
- Has the build to play outside
- Great hands
- Competitor that gets better when the game gets tighter
- May have issues getting open at the next level
- Hip tightness is a problem in snap route break offs
- Comes in with red flags when it comes to off field issues
Bears Fit: No doubt receiver is still an issue and this, arguably the deepest WR draft in a long time, is the draft in which to deal with it. Cephus is an intriguing option at the receiver position. A potential additional possession receiver to next to Allen Robinson and Anthony Miller in the slot may not make safeties stress about downfield, but there are a lot of big targets that will make things difficult on corners left alone and in the redzone.
There is a chance the team will be turned off by a sexual assault allegation made against Cephus prior to the 2018 season, but he wound up acquitted of the charges. Still you can expect a lot of homework on the situation being done by the Bears if Cephus is on their radar.
Assuming the team feels comfortable with Cephus, he could be one of those late round contributors. He had huge games against Ohio State, Oregon and Minnesota. The Bears would probably like to get a speedy wide receiver to take the top off defenses, but with no better option in the fifth round Cephus could be a potential steal.
Pick No. 196 — Raequan Williams (DL), Michigan State
- Can play anywhere on the line
- Uses his hands effectively
- Big but can get skinny to get through the gap
- Needs to add strength and bulk to his lower half
- Doesn’t have the quick burst
- Must get better at shedding blockers
Bears Fit: Here is the first Bears pick that could be made not for an obvious need. Williams comes in as a project for defensive line coach Jay Rodgers. Fear not, though, because Rodgers has a record of great development of lower round or unheralded defensive line talent.
An extra defensive lineman would be great for the team considering last year where many injuries hit the Bears defensive line in 2019 and the defense as a whole didn’t recover from the missed time from the likes of Akiem Hicks. Williams would likely only provide help on a rotational basis, but the added competition should strengthen the defensive line as a whole.
Pick No. 200 — Calvin Throckmorton (OL), Oregon
- Strong and tough
- Played everywhere on the offensive line
- Plays smart to make up for physical limitations
- May not have the athleticism to play tackle in the NFL
- Short arms for his position
- Needs to improve his pad level
Bears Fit: Offensive line is an area of concern but it may not be a position of need in the draft. The likely starters right now are tackle Charles Leno, the guard or center combo of Cody Whitehair and James Daniels and tackle Bobby Massie. The tackle position is more of an area of need but with the financial investment already made on both Leno and Massie it seems unlikely a rookie will supplant them this season.
There will be a battle for the right guard spot and for the backup spots but all those players might be on the roster right now. Getting Throckmorton gives the Bears a developmental prospect on the O-line where he could be a fill-in potentially anywhere and maybe develop into the right tackle position down the road.
Pick No. 226 — 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: Morgan is our lone repeat from the previous mock draft, that doesn’t make him being selected a sure thing — quarterback in the draft is a huge mystery area for the Bears.
Most would agree that if the Bears even draft a QB it will be late, like in the sixth or seventh round. Given the limited number of picks the club has, it could be a position they decide to pass on this year. The problem is that the Bears have to start drafting quarterbacks more frequently in order to try and find the one for the future.
Entering his sixth draft as Bears GM, Pace has only drafted one quarterback in his history, a more lackadaisical approach than most front offices would take regarding the most important position in sports. Give Nagy a player for him to try and develop while more finished quarterbacks Nick Foles and Mitchell Trubisky duke it out for the starting spot.
Pick No. 233 — Jordan Mack (LB), Virginia
- Started basically for four years
- Reads his keys and knows how to get where he needs to be
- Plays smart to make up for physical limitations
- Short area quickness is a concern
- More a team defender than play-maker
- Didn’t have much collegiate production in coverage
Bears Fit: Another Mack in the linebacker corps? Why not? Moreso than Khalil, this Mack seems like the recently departed Nick Kwiatkoski. Though he was limited and considered a two-down linebacker (three down linebackers can play in coverage), Kwiatkoski came in and played huge for the Bears on defense and special teams.
The Bears have enough at inside linebacker to be fine if they decide to draft elsewhere, but Mack brings a lot of intangibles and flat-out tangibles to keep that position as one of the strongest on the team.
Ryan Bukowiecki covers the Chicago Bears and professional football for WARR