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The Chicago Bears are on the clock.
In 13 years of doing these Bears mock drafts, I’ve never been able to say that in early February.
And I’m going to start by immediately taking them off the clock. Trades have never been a part of these mock drafts, but this year is different. I try to remind everyone that this is more of an exercise in learning about prospects that fit the Bears rather than predictions of who the team will actually draft. That said, the Bears need more picks and it appears likely they will indeed trade out of the No. 1 spot.
So we’ll start Bears Mock Draft 1.0 with one trade scenario, and probably follow up with other scenarios in future editions. Also, please keep in mind that 1.0 is usually heavy on standout Senior Bowl players and Big Ten players because those are the ones I know best at this stage of the process.
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OK, let’s get into Mock Draft 1.0 …
Trade: Bears trade back to No. 4
Bears receive: No. 4 overall pick, No. 35 overall pick, 2024 first round pick
Colts receive: No. 1 overall pick
I’m not ruling out a larger haul, but let’s just start out with a realistic trade that makes sense for both teams.
First round, No. 4 overall — DT Jalen Carter, Georgia (6-3, 300)
It’s possible Carter could go to the Cardinals at No. 3 overall, but they also need to replace J.J. Watt’s pass rush ability. With that in mind, they take Will Anderson in this mock. That should make the decision easy for Bears general manager Ryan Poles. Matt Eberflus referred to the three-technique as “the engine that makes everything go.” There’s no reason to overthink this. Carter can be that engine. A diesel engine.
Second round, No. 35 overall — C John Michael Schmitz, Minnesota (6-3 3/8, 306)
Maybe this is an overdraft, but I really liked what I saw from John Michael Schmitz at the Senior Bowl. I’m not in love with any of the tackle prospects in this range and the Homewood-Flossmoor product should be a plug-and-play starter at the center position.
Second round, No. 54 overall (via BAL) — EDGE Keion White, Georgia Tech (6-4 3/8, 280)
White didn’t blow me away like I hoped at the Senior Bowl, but he’s explosive and will likely test off the charts at the NFL Combine. Consider this an upside pick here after taking Carter early.
Third round, No. 65 overall — DT Keeanu Benton, Wisconsin (6-3 1/2, 312)
Yes, my token Wisconsin guy. But they usually work out… so why not actually draft them? Before you question double-dipping at defensive tackle, please consider how much help the Bears actually need on the defensive line. Benton can dominate the 1-technique position and flex to the 3-technique when necessary. He dominated the Senior Bowl, so he’s still available early in the third round, the Bears would be silly to pass him up.
Fourth round, No. 103 – WR Jayden Reed, Michigan State (5-10 3/4, 191)
It’s early February and it’s still hard to gauge where these guys will go. Reed was great in Mobile, but his speed is a question mark so his 40-time will be important. I believe he plays faster than he times, which is more important. He’s a good route runner with impressive releases off the line of scrimmage. Has punt return ability too.
Fourth round, No. 134 (from PHI) – CB Riley Moss, Iowa (6-0 3/8, 192)
Moss is fast and athletic. Some teams will try to turn him into a safety, but there’s no reason he can’t play corner at the next level. He’s a ballhawk, which makes him a fit for Eberflus’ defense. He had 11 career interceptions at Iowa, including two pick-6s in one game.
Fifth round, No. 136 – TE Josh Whyle, Cincinnati (6-6 1/2, 260)
Tight end might not be the Bears’ biggest need, but this is a very good tight end class and I wouldn’t want to miss out on one. Whyle is big, very athletic and a natural pass catcher. Cincinnati has been pumping out pro talent recently and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him rise.
Fifth round, No. 149 (via BAL) – OT Tyler Steen, Alabama
Steen transferred from Vanderbilt to Alabama and didn’t skip a beat, playing left tackle for the Tide. He has a lot of playing experience and only got better in a bigger program. It wouldn’t surprise me if Poles looks for bigger upside in the fifth round, but I think Steen provides a lot of value if he’s still available here.
Seventh round, No. 220 – WR Puka Nacua, BYU (6-1 1/4, 206)
In a wide receiver class that trends small, Nacua has good size and showed at the Senior Bowl that he can get open on his own.
That’s going to do it for Bears Mock Draft 1.0. Remember, we’re still very early in the process. We’ll learn a lot more about these prospects during the NFL Combine and their pro days. We’ll also learn a lot more about the Bears’ needs after they spend a lot of money during free agency.
Until then, I hope you learned something about these nine NFL Draft prospects. Bears Mock Draft 2.0 will drop after the Combine.
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