The NFL draft is now upon us, one of the oddest sports television phenomenons that our country annually celebrates. It’s a time that brings hope to all 32 franchises, but is often looked back on as a day where hopes and dreams turned into pain and anguish for fans across the country.
As a Bears fan, the last decade or so of draft picks has produced little worth celebrating. The bears have only extended four draft picks since the 2007 draft, and right guard Kyle Long is the only current Bear draft pick that is in his second contract with the team. That track record is just awful, but general manager Ryan Pace is determined to change that in his third draft with the team. The Bears have seven picks in the draft, with two fourth rounders and no sixth rounder, and will have the third overall pick behind the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers.
For this mock draft, I included trades, made mock selections for each one of the Bears seven picks, and highlighted a number two option for each of the Bears first three rounds. Let’s get to it.
First Round-pick #3- Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU
If Adams is Gone? Jonathan Allen, Defensive Lineman, Alabama
The Bears secondary has been dreadful since Lovie Smith was fired in 2012, especially at safety. The Bears haven’t had a pro bowl safety since Mike Brown, and last season the Bears started four different combinations at the position. With there being so few options at the top of the draft at premium value positions like quarterback, offensive tackle, and pass rusher, Adams provides the Bears with playmaking ability in the back end of the defense. He’s a well rounded athlete who can play downhill in the run game, match up man-to-man on tight ends, and showed good range in zone coverage at LSU by snagging four picks his Junior season. While Jonathan Allen was dominant at Alabama, and would be a welcomed and immediate contributor on the defensive line along with Eddie Goldman and Akiem HIcks, the Bears can’t afford to take a player in this spot who has an extensive injury history. Allen has already had both of his shoulders operated on and it has been reported that he may already be suffering from arthritis in those shoulders. Adams on the other hand not only has a clean bill of health, but has been lauded by almost everyone in the evaluation process for his leadership ability. Considering that the only secondary prospects that rival Adams, Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore from Ohio State, both come with reasonable durability concerns, Adams seems to be the safest and most sensible pick for the Bears at #3.
Second Round- pick#36- Adoree Jackson, CB/KR, USC
If Jackson is Gone? Chris Wormley,Defensive End, Michicgan
As I mentioned earlier, it’s no secret that the Bears secondary has been one of the league’s most disappointing for a few years now. An area where they are desperately lacking production is in the turnover department. The Bears were tied for dead last in the NFL in interceptions last season with eight. That number is abysmal, which is why I think Jackson would be another welcomed addition to the back end along with Adams. He played on the outside and inside at nickel over his career and picked off five passes while deflecting 11 more last season. Wormley may be the more polished prospect as of now, but defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has proven time and again he can take athletic players that are a little rough around the edges and develop them quickly. Throw in Jackson’s ability to step in day one as an NFL kick returner, and that’s a whole lot of potential value in the second round.
Third Round-TRADE DOWN WITH BUFFALO-pick #75- Tarrell Basham, OLB, Buffalo
If the Bears stay put? Nathan Peterman, QB, Pitt
The Bears have the 67th overall pick, and with a few teams sporting multiple fifth rounders that may be eyeing a quarterback in the middle of the draft, this feels as good a spot as any to trade back for an extra pick in this deep draft. The Bears have been quiet about having any interest in some of the middle of the pack quarterback prospects, so if they aren’t in love with Peterman or Cal’s Davis Webb, find someone who is and make a deal. The third round projects to be full of pass rushing prospects, and Buffalo’s Tarell Basham has the body type at 6’4, 270 pounds to be a force off of the edge in the Bears 3-4 scheme. He played against weak competition in the MAC, but he can sit and learn behind veterans Willie Young and Pernell McPhee until he’s ready.
Fourth Round-pick #111- Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami FL
The Bears have done a lot of extensive research and scouting on this years quarterback class, but Ryan Pace continues to remain mum on the position and his interest on any one prospect. The two mid round prospects that have been most frequently linked to the Bears are Davis Webb and Brad Kaaya. Kaaya has three years of starting experience and has put up some pretty solid numbers in the ACC, and many scouts and coaches that have worked with him have praised his football intelligence. He obviously has some flaws in his game, with pocket presence and inconsistent accuracy under pressure being his most notable weaknesses, but the Bears have put off drafting a developmental quarterback for too long. Kayaa provides nice value for the Bears on the third day and he can sit behind Mike Glennon for a year or two and develop.
Fourth Round-pick #117-Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M
Reynolds’ lack of strength and quickness will drop him into the middle rounds of the draft, but at 6’4 with 4.52 speed and a 37 inch vertical there will be plenty of teams who will be after the all SEC receiver. Mike Glennon was at his best in Tampa Bay making spot throws to taller targets Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson, and while the Bears added Marcus Wheaton and Kendall Wright in free agency, neither one of them has the height or speed that Reynolds possesses. The Bears can’t count on former first rounder Kevin White coming back healthy and with Alshon Jeffrey gone, it’s imperative that the Bears add another toy for Glennon to play with.
Fifth Round-pick#147-Adam Bisnowaty,OT,Pittsburgh
The interior of the Bears offensive line is set for years to come, but starting tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie had their fair share of struggles last season. The Bears didn’t make any serious additions at offensive tackle in the offseason, so the 6’6 three year starter will have the opportunity to step right in as the team’s swing tackle off the bench.
Fifth Round-pick#156-Isaac Rochelle, DE, Notre Dame
The Bears have more needs than they can address in their first five picks, so one major need will be addressed later than it should have. The way I see this draft shaking out, I would bet that defensive line is the one spot where the Bears end up passing on some guys in the early rounds and settling late in the draft. The leader in the clubhouse for the Bears starting defensive end opposite of Akeim Hicks is last years third round pick Jonathan Bullard. There were concerns in Hallas Hall that Bullard was too lazy and inconsistent and it cost him playing time. If nothing else, the high motor Rochelle can provide effort and energy that can hopefully push Bullard to raise his competitiveness, and hopefully that will result in better production on the field.
Seventh Round-pick#221- Jacob Hollister, TE, Wyoming
It’s anyone’s guess as to how the last round will play out, but I’m guessing that the Bears add to a position that was sorely lacking after Zach Miller went down for the season with a foot injury. The Bears added a block first tight end Dion Sims in free agency and return the oft-injured Miller, and that’s about it. According to pro football focus, Hollister has the potential to be a serious threat down the field, comparing him to Julius Thomas.
So there you have it, eight picks, split evenly between offense and defense. Let’s trust that Ryan Pace knows what he’s doing, the Bears don’t have any more room for error.