The NFL Draft is one week from tonight, and there is no better time to start looking at expanded mock drafts.
- Pro Football Focus spent two days working up a seven-round mock draft, which they split into two parts, and did live. While much of the focus might go on their first-round mock sending Alabama defensive lineman Jonathan Allen to the Bears with the third overall pick, their choices in the rounds that followed are the most interesting. PFF’s Bears team avoided quarterbacks altogether and instead used the draft to fill holes on the defensive side with each of the first three picks, with cornerback (Clemson’s Cordea Tankersley), and safety (Louisiana Tech’s Xavier Woods) following Allen, whose fit along the defensive line is as perfect as it gets.
- Things would get interesting on the offensive side of the ball with round four picks at tight end (Wyoming’s Jacob Hollister) and wide receiver (Alabama’s ArDarius Stewart). Two of the bigger surprises were the fifth and seventh round selections of players at perceived positions of strength. Colorado State guard Fred Zerblis could help the team’s depth along the offensive line, especially after losing reserve Ted Larsen in free agency, but the Bears have bigger needs at tackle. Running back I’Tavius Mathers has skills that could complement Pro Bowl starter Jordan Howard, and taking him in the team’s last pick wouldn’t be much of an issue. All in all, it would seem to be a productive draft.
- For what it’s worth, PFF teammate Cris Collinsworth also has the Bears selecting Allen with the third pick.
- Chicago Now’s Jake Perper conducts a seven-round mock draft that also begins with the Bears picking up a defensive lineman with the third overall pick. But instead of plucking Alabama’s Allen, Perper sends Stanford’s Solomon Thomas to the Bears. Thomas is an interesting pick because there is a bit of a tweener stigma he hasn’t shaken yet, but he could possess the kind of versatility defensive coordinator Vic Fangio can make use of schematically. In the rounds that follow, Perper uses the draft to fill needs at safety (Texas A&M’s Justin Evans), defensive end/outside linebacker (Wisconsin’s Vince Biegel), wide receiver (Texas A&M’s Josh Reynolds), tight end (Jonnu Smith of Florida International), and guard (Michigan’s Kyle Kalis). HOWEVER, the biggest shocker on the board is Deshaun Watson coming to the Bears with the 36th pick.
- There has been a buzz building around the possibility (if not, probability) of the Bears drafting a quarterback in the first round. It would be a bit of a stunner after seeing the Bears linked to defensive studs for much of the mock draft season. But there is still a long-term need, and Watson has the kind of intangibles Chicago’s front office seems to covet. Opinions vary on how many quarterbacks will go in the first round. For example, former Bears scouting director Greg Gabriel believes Watson (going to the Bears, naturally) could be one of four quarterbacks to go within the top 12, while others see the possibility of one or two sliding. Watson could be the first quarterback off the board, or he could slide depending on how other teams use their draft picks. Getting Watson on the Bears would be a nice get, as he could come to Chicago without the pressure of being The Man right away. That will be on the shoulders of free agent signee Mike Glennon. Getting Watson all the way down at pick 36 would seem to be a steal.
- Dane Brugler of CBS Sports has a two-round mock draft that comes with a surprise in the form of the Bears choosing quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears paying Glennon in free agency doesn’t stop Brugler from sending the North Carolina product to Chicago with the most shocking pick in the first round. Remember, Glennon’s contract is rather team friendly, and the Bears could come away paying less than $20 million on a deal that could be worth up to $45 million over three years. Brugler’s second-round selection is a bit more sensible for the Bears. With the 36th pick, Brugler has the Bears addressing safety concerns by picking North Carolina State’s Josh Jones.
- The Chicago Tribune’s Rich Campbell represented the Bears in the Los Angeles Times’ mock draft, and did so with a move that is a bit outside of the box with the selection of safety Malik Hooker in the first round. The Ohio State ballhawk is one of the draft’s two best safeties (together with LSU’s Jamal Adams), and the Bears could have a hard time choosing between the two if both are on the board when the team goes on the clock with the third selection. If the Hooker has passed the proper medical tests after a pair of offseason surgeries, there isn’t much of an argument against picking him if he is healthy.
- Sports Illustrated wrapped up its 11.0 update of the mock draft, and this one has a twist as it focuses on the backup plans for later selections if teams don’t get their top option. Chris Burke’s backup plan for the Bears not landing Alabama’s Jonathan Allen is Florida State’s DeMarcus Walker. With the first-round buzz a distant memory, Walker is still a player with sound technique and upside. He was one of the ACC’s premier pass rushers and could play in several different spots. I can imagine him playing well next to fellow Florida State product Eddie Goldman, if only he could stay healthy.