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After four seasons in Chicago, Khalil Mack is heading back to California. This time, he’ll partner with Joey Bosa and the Los Angeles Chargers. In return, the Chicago Bears will receive a 2022 second-round pick and a sixth-rounder in 2023.
How does having this additional pick impact what general manager Ryan Poles can accomplish in this year’s draft?
It matters. We will look back at this move years from now and it will be what Poles is able to turn these draft picks (and additional cap space) into that will determine whether or not he won or lost this trade — his first substantial decision.
Rules of the Mock: For the purposes of this mock draft, I decided to see what the draft class could look like if the Bears decide to use their picks as-is. Even though it is very well possible they could bundle both second-rounders to trade into the first for a player like wide receiver Chris Olave to partner with his former college teammate Justin Fields (yes please) or trade down from either (or both) of these picks to accumulate additional selections.
It’s worth noting that I used The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine.
Round 2, Pick 39
The Pick: Christian Watson, WR (North Dakota State)
Watson’s draft stock is definitely on the rise and I would not be surprised if he is off the board by the time Chicago is on the clock with the 39th pick. However, when I saw that he was in fact available, I instantly knew my decision.
By drafting Watson, the Bears bring to town a tall (6-foot-5-inch) receiver with a set of wheels that Fields would be elated to throw to. How fast is Watson? Despite being one of the tallest receivers in the draft, he ran a 4.36 40 at the NFL Combine, which was the 10th quickest time amongst all positions and the sixth-best amongst all wideouts.
Watson has a wide catching radius and excellent hands. With his speed, he provides Fields with another vertical threat. Watson provides value both outside and in the slot due to his crafty route running. He is a problem for smaller corners and can make plays after the catch, which is something the Bears have struggled to get out of the position.
Drafting Watson, Chicago gets a receiver with the size, speed and ball skills that will allow offensive coordinator Luke Getsy to be as creative as he desires.
Round 2, Pick 48 (From LAC)
The Pick: Darian Kinnard, IOL (Kentucky)
With the newly-acquired pick, the Bears decide to bolster the interior of their offensive line by drafting a powerful lineman that possesses the mauler mentality Chicago needs at the position.
It’s uncertain whether James Daniels will return and the Bears need to continue adding young-talented bodies to their offensive line. Kinnard would be a big boost upfront and provide a ton of value as a run blocker.
The question is whether or not he fits the athletic profile Chicago is looking for. Kinnard isn’t the most athletic lineman in this year’s class. His athleticism is limited, but he does possess enough to play effectively in a zone scheme.
Kinnard primarily played outside throughout his collegiate career, so there will need to be some patience as he slides inside to guard, where he projects at the next level.
If the Bears are willing to work with him, Kinnard should become a quality starter for Chicago for years to come. He brings the “nasty.” Kinnard would be a physical presence and tone-setter, paving the way for the ground game and protecting Fields.
Round 3, Pick 71
The Pick: Jeremy Ruckert, TE (Ohio State)
There has been some buzz about the possibility of reuniting Fields with a former teammate from Ohio State. Typically, these conversations are reserved for wide receivers Olave and Garrett Wilson, but there’s some upside of bringing Ruckert to Chicago for the young quarterback.
Ruckert said that the “sky is the limit” for Fields at the NFL Combine. The two had a strong connection back in 2020, where Ruckert hauled in a career-high five touchdowns — all of which came inside the red zone, an area where Fields struggled in his rookie season due to not having many options inside the 20.
The tight end would provide the Bears with a vertical threat down the seam. This is an element to his game that brings value considering Cole Kmet has not proved he can make those sorts of plays. Ruckert would also be a go-to guy off-play action, where he can release off blocks and reach the second level.
Ruckert’s hands and ability to find soft spots in a zone, plus his familiarity with Fields, could easily make him a security blanket. He’s also known for being someone who is willing to do the dirty work in the run game, and has the size and ability to be a capable blocker in the NFL.
Round 5, Pick 147
The Pick: Mykael Wright, CB (Oregon)
One of the most important pieces in Matt Eberflus’ defense is the slot corner, a position the Bears have been looking to fill ever since they lost Bryce Callahan. With this pick, the Bears make things “Wright” as they bring in someone who projects best as a slot corner.
In the fifth round, the Bears also reunite former college teammates by selecting Wright, who shared time with Thomas Graham Jr. at Oregon. Wright’s eyes, instincts and ball skills should allow him to excel in the Bears’ zone-heavy scheme.
One reason Wright is available in the fifth round is his lack of length (5-foot-11). This is why he would be best suited as a team’s nickel corner, where he can use his understanding of routes and leverage to be in position against smaller receivers.
Wright should be a player that comes in and competes for a starting job at slot corner, and at worst, someone who takes a year or two to adjust to the next level before taking over while being a special teams contributor in the meantime. Wright also has return experience as he averaged 28.1 yards per return on 35 career kick returns.
Round 5, Pick 149
The Pick: Eyioma Uwazurike, DL (Iowa State)
For years the Bears have had reliable depth at defensive line. With Akiem Hicks on his way out, Eddie Goldman being cut and the uncertainty of Bilal Nichols’ return, Chicago would be wise to address this position in the draft.
Uwazurike has a blend of size, length and athleticism that would appeal to the Bears. He provides value as a run stopper and pass rusher. He had nine sacks last season and has a knack for making plays behind the line of scrimmage.
A rotational player during his rookie season with the upside to turn into a starter is what the Bears bet on with this pick.
Round 6, Pick 184
The Pick: Isaiah Thomas, EDGE (Oklahoma)
To wrap up this draft class, the Bears add someone who they can develop at defensive end. This is a post-Mack trade mock, after all.
Thomas plays with a high motor, which has led him to make plays in the backfield. Thomas was asked to line up at different positions during his time at Oklahoma, but the Bears would best use him as a 5-tech down lineman.
With a fast first step and good speed in the open field, Thomas has the explosiveness to be a threat behind the line of scrimmage.
Thomas does not project as someone who will contribute right away. Most teams are hard-pressed to find those players this late in the draft. But with his explosive traits, the Bears could find a diamond in the rough with some good coaching and patience with Thomas.
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