The end of the NFL Scouting Combine has opened up the floodgates for mock draft season.
But as we know, not all mock drafts are created equally or crafted similarly. Take for instance Matt Miller’s latest seven-round mock that comes in the wake of the Combine and one week before free agency opens up. Miller pieces together this behemoth hoping to simultaneously entertain and inform us of team needs and player values.
With that in mind, Miller sends Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds to the Bears with the eighth pick.
Miller sees Edmunds as quite the consolation prize for Chicago even though the team misses out on other top targets such as Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson (second overall to the Giants), cornerback Denzel Ward (sixth to the Jets), and Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick (seventh to the Buccaneers). And frankly, Miller might be right.
Edmunds is an incredibly gifted athlete who fits the M.O. of GM Ryan Pace’s previous first-round picks and owns the versatility to play inside linebacker and raw pass rushing skills that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio craves out of his defenders.
In short, Edmunds just fits the bill when it comes to what a Bears draft pick looks like – athletic with tremendous potential.
The Bears’ second-round pick looks like an ideal fit for what head coach Matt Nagy wants to do on the offensive side of the ball. Miller mocks Texas A&M receiver Christian Kirk to the Bears with the 39th overall pick. Kirk is built like a running back and looks like a durable, reliable pass-catcher who can work the slot like a pro. He ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.47 seconds and his 20 bench press reps were tied for the fourth most among receivers.
While Pace could opt to add other targets via free agency, it wouldn’t hurt to add one or two in the draft. Which allows us for a clean segue to the team’s fifth-round pick of Missouri wideout J’Mon Moore, who is a different kind of wide receiver. He checked in at 6-foot-3, 207 pounds and tied for the fastest time in the 3-cone drill (6.56 seconds), second-fastest time in the 20-yard shuttle (by one one-hundredth of a second), third most bench press reps (21), and tied for the fourth-highest vertical (38 inches) among wide receivers at the combine. It was nothing short of an impressive showing for the Missouri standout who earned All-SEC honors as a senior. Unlike Kirk, Moore is more of a fit as an outside receiver who could possibly develop into a go-up-and-get-it target.
Circling back to the Bears’ fourth-round selections, Chicago is mocked to add a pair of defensive depth players in Maryland cornerback J.C. Jackson and Washington State edge defender Hercules Mata’afa.
Jackson is a physical corner who has some prospect pedigree as a high school All-American. He was injured to start his career at the University of Florida and eventually dismissed after being charged with four felony counts as part of an armed robbery, but was later found not guilty. After a stint at a community college, Jackson moved on to Maryland and eventually earned honorable mention all-conference honors in the Big Ten. He has improvements to make in his game (particularly with his ball skills) but could grow into a starter.
Mata’afa is a unicorn in the sense that he is trying to make the change from defensive lineman to edge defender, because 6-foot-1-inch, 254-pound defensive tackles don’t necessarily find fits in the NFL. He was a consensus All-American choice and first-team All-Pac-12 member after coming away with 10.5 sacks and forcing two fumbles in a breakout 2017 season. Mata’afa has talent, but it needs to be molded. Sounds like the kind of project the Bears’ defensive coordinator would be willing to take head on. The Bears could get some additional insight on this prospect via new offensive cordinator/former Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich and/or new strength and conditioning coach Jason Loscalzo, who was previously at Washington State before making the jump to the pros.
A pair of late-round picks round out the Bears’ search of depth with sixth-round pick Zac Crabtree, an offensive lineman from Oklahoma State, and seventh-round safety Trayvon Henderson from Hawaii. Both are positions where Bears have entrenched starters, but could turn to the later rounds of the draft to fill in roster spots rather than spending in free agency.
If this turned out to be the Bears’ draft, it would probably receive some thumbs up because of how it fills needs with players who have upside. And if a good draft follows up a productive free agency, then we’ll all feel better about what’s to come for the rest of 2018.