The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis has come to an end, which means it’s time to come back around and check in on mock draft season.
Sure, the legal tampering period opens up a week from today, free agency opens up two days after, and we’ll have a much better idea of which teams need what kind of players in the draft after the first wave of free agency. But that shouldn’t keep us from exploring this round of mock drafts.
- Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times presents his first mock draft and the latest in the newspaper’s weekly mock draft series. This mock is a full 32-team mock and the first since the Combine came to a close. Jahns has the Bears going in a different direction than Sun-Times teammate Patrick Finley the first time around (which you can check out here) and has the Bears going with Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson. Depending on your cup of tea, either Jackson or Ohio State’s Denzel Ward is college football’s best cornerback prospect. Jackson has preferred size (6-foot-1, 192 pounds) and ball skills (8 interceptions), but isn’t a burner and his 4.56-second showing at the Combine leaves something to be desired. Ward, whose 4.32 40-yard-dash time confirms he has speed to burn, goes one spot later to the San Francisco 49ers.
- Jahns’ mock draft has the Bears missing out on Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson (aw, nuts!) by one pick, sees Virginia Tech’s versatile linebacker prospect Tremaine Edmunds slide to No. 10, and Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley tumble all the way to the Bills with the 21st pick. Perhaps that’s a sign of how deep this first-round crop is and how many different directions the Bears could conceivably follow.
- The Bills’ picks of Ridley and edge rusher Arden Key in the first round are eyebrow-raising. Not because they are questionable picks, but instead because both are high-end talents who fit big-picture Bears needs. Should Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen be available at No. 8 when the Bears are on the clock, the team would be wise to burn up Buffalo’s phone lines in a deal that could net the Chicago both of those first-round picks. From there, if Bears GM Ryan Pace can pluck Ridley and Key – the draft’s top receiver prospect and possibly the second best pass-rush prospect – then that would be quite the bold Day 1 move.
- We all know the current order of the draft won’t be the same order in which the picks are ultimately made, which makes mocks like this one from NFL.com’s Chad Reuter that much more fun. This four-round mock has Pace trading out of the top-10, which is something he has never done in Round 1 since becoming the Bears’ GM. Chicago swaps first-round picks with Arizona and receives a 2019 first-round choice so the Cardinals have the right to pick Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson. Frankly, I can see this scenario playing out in part because the Cardinals only have an estimated $23.2 million in cap space, which would likely put them out of the market for some of the top quarterbacks on the market.
- As for whom Reuter has the Bears picking -because isn’t that what matters most? – it’s Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley in a pick that gives quarterback Mitch Trubisky a much-needed pass-catching target on the outside. Rebuilding the offense doesn’t stop there. Reuter sends Oregon tackle Tyrell Crosby to Chicago with the 39th pick. Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich is familiar with Crosby from his time as the Ducks’ head coach. Because the Bears don’t have a third-round pick (yet) we can fast forward to Round 4, where the team plucks some defensive help in the form of Rutgers edge rusher Kemoko Turay and Texas cornerback Holton Hill.
- What’s most fun about a mock like this (for someone like me) is browsing through the middle-round possibilities. Depending on what the Bears end up doing in free agency, there is a case to be made for the Bears using their fourth-rounder on Wisconsin tight end Troy Fumagalli, San Diego State running back Rashaad Penny, or Colorado State receiver Michael Gallup. Georgia defensive lineman Trenton Thompson and UCF linebacker Shaquem Griffin are among the intriguing prospects who could have been picked with the team’s second fourth-round choice. In short, the Bears have options to fill their many needs.
- Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports unveils a mock draft that has the Miami Dolphins trading up with the Cleveland Browns (who also own the fourth pick) for their chance at taking UCLA’s Josh Rosen, who is described here as “a Jay Cutler-ian quarterback prospect who’s more polished than Cutler when he entered the NFL.” As we have discussed before, the Bears’ chances of hitting a home run with their first-round pick increases with each quarterbacks who goes off the board before Chicago goes on the clock. Four quarterbacks go in the first six picks, leaving the Bears an opportunity to draft Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds. “Don’t be shocked if the Bears land Allen Robinson in free agency,” Trapasso writes. “They may even acquire two starting receivers. That allows them to turn their direction to defense, where the freakish 19-year-old Edmunds is their top target.”
- Edmunds is arguably the best linebacker prospect and might be the most intriguing. His size and versatility makes him a special kind of fit for Defensive Coordinator Vic Fangio. And if Trapasso is onto something with the Bears landing multiple starting receivers in free agency, then it would only be right to use the draft to rebuild a defense that needs starters at several positions.
- Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times shares a more modest mock draft, one where the Bears take Calvin Ridley because the Bears need receiver help – duh. By taking Ridley with the eighth pick, Farmer’s mock has the Bears passing on Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (who might be the draft’s best defensive player) among others. Quenton Nelson is long gone by the time the Bears are on the clock, having been mocked to the Colts with the No. 3 pick. Tremaine Edmunds tumbles all the way to No. 18.
- Maybe it’s something about the coasts, but long-time New York football writer Art Stapleton also has the Bears taking Ridley with their first-round pick. The mocks that have Ridley going to the Bears are going to be a dime a dozen by the time the draft rolls around.
- And because we can’t have a mock draft roundup without the Bears finding a way to draft Quenton Nelson, Bleacher Report’s Paul Kasabian has us covered. Kasabian has the Bears taking Nelson after running back Saquon Barkley, edge rusher Bradley Chubb, four quarterbacks, and defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick go off the board by the time it’s the Bears’ turn to pick.