Kyle Fuller may have received the transition tag on Tuesday, but cornerback is still a position of need for the Chicago Bears. Thankfully, some recent mock drafts provide options for GM Ryan Pace to supplement his team’s defensive backfield.
Pro Football Focus’ third mock draft, for example, sends Iowa cornerback Josh Jackson to the Bears with the eighth overall pick.
Steve Palazzolo describes Jackson as one of the best outside playmakers in the draft, which happens to be something the Bears could use after coming up with just eight interceptions in 2017. Heck, Jackson came up with eight interceptions himself to go along with 18 pass breakups, all while limiting opposing quarterbacks to a 31.3 passer rating when targeted.
Jackson also has desirable size and ball skills, but doesn’t possess the type of game-breaking speed naturally associated with top-tier cover corners.
Then again, a player with blazing speed and top-notch cover skills is also available in the form of Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah shared his second mock draft, in which he has Chicago choosing Ward, a player he simply describes as the draft’s top cover corner. Simple and accurate, yet appealing to a unit that could stand to add playmakers.
Over at The Athletic, Chris Burke’s fourth mock draft is a three-rounder that also sends Ward to Chicago. Burke’s mock also addresses the team’s receiver needs with Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk as a second-round pick (39th overall). If the Bears were to follow Burke’s blueprint, they could address their defensive needs with an All-American corner and add to their group of receivers with a player Burke believes is a first-round talent who might end up slipping into Round 2. And if that’s how it played out, it would be a winning scenario for the Bears’ front office.
It’s not a surprise that Jackson and Ward were mocked to the Bears. Both have been connected to the team throughout mock draft season and will continue to be unless the team loads up on corners via free agency. What stands out in each of these drafts are the players the Bears pass on to take one of the draft’s top cornerbacks.
The mock drafts from Palazzolo and Jeremiah have Chicago choosing to pass on Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Georgia linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds, and Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, among others. PFF’s mock features a handful of players I can’t imagine the Bears passing on if given the opportunity to take them, including North Carolina State pass rusher Bradley Chubb (who falls to the Raiders with the 10th pick) and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (who lasts until Washington takes him 13th overall). Meanwhile, Burke’s mock draft has SMU’s Courtland Sutton as the first receiver off the board (16th overall to the Ravens) and Ridley dropping to the Bills with the 22nd pick.
Armed with a top-10 choice and various needs across the gridiron, it’s difficult to imagine the Bears not taking a player who ranks as the best (or second-best) prospect at his respective position. But only after the first wave of free agency comes through will we have a better idea of what the absolute best options will be. Stay tuned, because free agency opens a week from today.