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The 'Anti' Mock Draft: Here's every wrong pick the Bears could make

Will DeWitt Avatar
April 15, 2022

Entering his first NFL draft as general manager, Ryan Poles has a lot to prove to both the Chicago Bears organization and its fanbase.

Rebuilding a football team is no easy task. It doesn’t happen overnight.

However, if the Bears want any shot at being relevant in the near future, it’s extremely important for Poles to walk away from the draft with a strong class of rookies that become an integral part of the team’s core.

No draft class is perfect. The hope is that Poles can hit on more of his picks than he misses.

Most mock drafts focus on building the “right” draft class for teams.

Let’s do something different.

This is an “anti” mock draft, where instead of making the correct decisions, we’ll take a look at what those rookie mistakes could look like for Poles.

For this mock draft, I used PFF’s Mock Draft Simulator to get a rough idea of who would be available at each pick.

Here are decisions the Chicago Bears General Manager should avoid making in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Round 2, Pick 39

The Pick: Perrion Winfrey, DL (Oklahoma)

With his first-ever draft pick, Poles goes back to a position that he’s placed plenty of effort in addressing since his arrival.

Notable players Poles passed on:

  • Skyy Moore, WR (Western Michigan)
  • Christian Watson, WR (North Dakota State)
  • Roger McCreary, CB (Auburn)
  • Nakobe Dean, LB (Georgia)

Before we get into why drafting Winfrey with the 39th overall pick would be an error, can we just acknowledge all of the talent that Poles passed up on here?

Poles didn’t just pass on one talented wideout that could help bolster the Bears’ offense, he differed on drafting either of the top wideouts available as Moore and Watson were both sitting right there for the taking.

Justin Fields would be livid.

Even though Roger McCreary has short arms, he still projects as a viable cornerback to pair with Jaylon Johnson.

With this pick, Poles is banking on some playmakers at positions of need falling to their lap later in the draft. We’ll see if that pans out.

Back to Winfrey …

He is a talented player that has a strong blend of quickness and power. Winfrey possesses the explosiveness that the Bears are looking for out of their 3-tech. This is evident when you watch him last season as the former Sooner finished the year with 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks.

One major area of concern on Winfrey is his size. He’s lean, especially for the position. This lack of build leads to struggles against double teams, and there are doubts that his effectiveness at the next level will decline due to not having the play strength necessary to consistently win his matchups in the trenches.

Drafting Winfrey would prove that Poles is too hyper-focused on addressing the 3-tech. This narrow-minded approach, unfortunately, led to the Bears drafting the wrong player.

And perhaps worst of all, Chicago missed out on some great talent to help their young quarterback.

Round 2, Pick 48 (From LAC)

The Pick: Christian Harris, LB (Alabama)

Did you hear that sound? That was the entire Bears fanbase having a collective groan across the globe after Poles decides to go defense back-to-back in the second round.

Notable players Poles passed on:

  • Tyler Smith, IOL (Tulsa)
  • Roger McCreary, CB (Auburn)
  • George Pickens, WR (Georgia)
  • David Bell, WR (Purdue)

Just look at that list above. Who would you rather have on the Bears? There’s a strong chance you’re saying “any of them.”

That’s valid.

Poles decided that Bell’s slow 40-time at the NFL Combine was enough to sour on the former Boilermaker. Pickens’ ACL injury — even though he recovered from it in an impressive fashion — also became a red flag for the general manager.

So yet again, the Bears decide to hold off on addressing the receiver position for now. Poles would say that this is why they signed Byron Pringle and Equanimeous St. Brown in free agency.

For some reason, Chicago decided that Smith is too raw a talent to take here in the second round despite the fact that he plays with a mean streak and the attitude the Bears are looking to add to their offensive line.

So, the Bears add another linebacker. This is a mind-boggling decision considering Chicago has already signed Matt Adams and Nicholas Morrow.

Perhaps Poles isn’t convinced he can come to a long-term deal with Roquan Smith?

Or perhaps worse, the GM doesn’t believe Smith is worth his upcoming payday?

Don’t get it wrong, Harris is a tremendous talent at the position and will become a very good linebacker in the NFL. He has all the tools necessary.

Harris is a smart, strong and fast linebacker that will instantly improve any defense he joins. Perhaps his best ability is pass coverage, which is a strength of Smith’s game as well.

Harris needs to become more of a consistent tackler and demonstrate a higher level of effort as he tended to not give it his all on every down. If the Bears draft him, Eberflus will certainly make sure he pays for each loaf.

Poles closed out the second round by only addressing the defense, and in many ways, playing the long game as Winfrey and Harris’ impact may not be fully felt for a couple of years.

And just like that, Bears Fans’ confidence in their new general manager begins to wane.

Round 3, Pick 71

The Pick: Abraham Lucas, OT (Washington State)

Finally! The Bears go offense. But it’s the wrong player.

Notable players Poles passed on:

  • Darian Kinnard, IOL (Kentucky)
  • David Bell, WR (Purdue)
  • Marcus Jones, CB (Houston)
  • Jalen Tolbert, WR (South Alabama)

Drafting Lucas here is a mistake for a couple of reasons.

First, again, just look at the talent that Poles passed on.

We already established Poles soured out on Bell and this remains true, even in Round 3. Jones is one of the most intriguing talents in this draft as he can contribute in all three phases, Tolbert is a big-play wide receiver that would’ve given the offense a necessary boost, and Kinnard is another nasty lineman that apparently the Bears didn’t see value in drafting.

Second, this cements second-year tackle Teven Jenkins over on the left side as Lucas projects as a right tackle in the NFL. It’s way too early to make that judgment on Jenkins.

The worst part? Lucas is a developmental tackle at that, meaning there’s a chance Larry Borom could beat him in a camp battle to earn the starting job.

Does any of that make the Bears a better team in 2022?

I don’t see it.

Sure, Lucas does have some of the “violent” traits that the Bears have stressed. He has good length that helps him keep rushers away, and a high football IQ. However, he is lacking the athleticism needed to excel in Chicago’s zone-heavy scheme.

With this pick, it feels like Poles just decided to address the tackle position for the sake of doing so. This is the price you pay by passing on guys like Daniel Faalele and Nicholas Petit-Frere earlier in the draft.

The most damning part of this is the cost of misidentifying talent. They could have gone with Rasheed Walker out of Penn State who was also available. He would be a much stronger fit schematically.

So much went wrong with this pick.

Round 5, Pick 148

The Pick: Danny Gray, WR (SMU)

It took way too long for the Bears to add another receiver to its roster. They passed — or missed out — on 13 receivers.

That’s not counting the ones that were drafted before their first pick in this draft. All in all, 20 receivers went off the board before Poles decided that perhaps the Bears should get in on the action.

Notable players Poles passed on:

  • Rachaad White, RB (Arizona State)
  • Coby Bryant, CB (Cincinnati)
  • Eyioma Uwazurike, DT (Iowa State)
  • Gerrit Prince, TE (UAB)

As you can see from the list above, there were some other talented players the Bears could have drafted here.

Perhaps if they went receiver early and didn’t draft Winfrey in the second round, they would give Uwazurike a hard look with this pick. Bryant and Prince also would bolster their respective positions as well.

Instead, Poles feels pressured to draft a receiver after all of the commotion that has ensued throughout the draft around the fact that the Bears have failed to address the position.

Gray is a finesse receiver that can gain separation with his explosiveness that wins after the catch, which is where his big-play ability is on full display. He’s not the most physical receiver, which is why he doesn’t peg to be a player that can consistently go win 50-50 balls.

He needs to become more consistent with catching the football. Gray does have some drop concerns. He also needs to prove he can handle a larger route tree at the next level as it was rather limited at SMU.

The Bears draft a receiver who has the after-the-catch potential they desire. Gray has some work ahead of him and will need to continue developing before he becomes a consistent threat in the NFL. He may not help Fields right away.

This is what happens when you wait this long to address a major need. It’s difficult to find the next Darnell Mooney in the fifth round. Gray is no Mooney.

Round 5, Pick 150

The Pick: Coby Bryant, CB (Cincinnati)

Just like the prior pick, this feels very much like a “forced” decision solely due to the fact that the Bears didn’t address it sooner.

Notable players Poles passed on:

  • Verone McKinley III, S (Oregon)
  • Eyioma Uwazurike, DT (Iowa State)
  • Gerrit Prince, TE (UAB)
  • Romeo Doubs, WR (Nevada)

Personally, if Chicago waited as long as they did to draft a receiver, I would have doubled down and drafted Doubs as well. At least that way, you’re adding two different players who bring something unique to the table instead of banking on one.

Bryant has the size that you look for in an outside corner at six-foot-two, 185 pounds. He has strong ball skills with seven interceptions and 18 pass breakups over the last two seasons.

He plays with a high motor and loves to play physically in coverage. Bryant is active in run support, but one area of concern is his tackling ability as he can be caught lunging too much.

He’s also not one of the fastest cornerbacks in this year’s class and the lack of elite speed can spell trouble going up against speedsters at the next level.

Poles drafts Bryant here with the hope of the Bears being able to help him become more of a consistent tackler and the Cover-2 scheme being a good fit for the cornerback.

It’s a bigger gamble than some of the corners the Bears passed on in this draft. For Poles’ sake, it better pan out.

Round 6, Pick 186

The Pick: Cade Mays, IOL (Tennessee)

At this stage of the draft, it’s anyone’s guess as to which players will end up becoming contributors. It’s a crapshoot. But with a good scouting department, teams can identify players that have the best chance.

Is Mays that type of player? Maybe.

Notable players Poles passed on:

  • Matt Araiza, P (San Diego State)
  • Justyn Ross, WR (Clemson)
  • Chris Paul, IOL (Tulsa)
  • Jalen Nailor, WR (Michgan State)

Looking at the list of players available, one could make the case that the Bears would be better off drafting any of them over Mays.

Chicago could have gotten a clear-cut starter with field-position-changing ability by going with the “Punt God” in Araiza.

They could have gone with any of the remaining intriguing options at receiver, but Poles officially decided not to double-dip at the position.

Instead, he addressed the interior of Chicago’s offensive line. Having to choose between Paul and Mays, Poles decides to go with the younger option.

Mays crossed paths with Fields at Georgia in 2018, where he played in 11 games as a freshman for the Bulldogs. Like Fields, Mays decided to transfer as he went to Tennessee after the 2019 season.

Mays plays with the “nasty” and a great deal of power. He also has experience playing at all five positions on the offensive line, which is a testament to his versatility. However, he will play guard or center in the NFL.

He’s not the most flexible nor athletic prospect, which is a concern with the Bears’ need for linemen to be able to move in space in their offense. Mays is a player that will need refinement and coaching as he settles into one position in the NFL. He surely has the potential to develop into a starter.

But how long will it take? And does he have the makeup to succeed in Chicago’s offense?

If Poles is taking a flyer here with the last pick, he would be better suited using it at a skill position and on a player that is more of a natural fit at his position.

Recapping the Draft Class

  • Pick 39: Perrion Winfrey, DT (Oklahoma)
  • Pick 48: Christian Harris, LB (Alabama)
  • Pick 71: Abraham Lucas, OT (Washington State)
  • Pick 148: Danny Gray, WR (SMU)
  • Pick 150: Coby Bryant, CB (Cincinnati)
  • Pick 186: Cade Mays, IOL (Tennessee)

After a quiet and unspectacular free agency, this draft class doesn’t move the needle.

Poles missed out on too many players early on to help his young quarterback. The players he added to the offensive line do not make much sense, and the lone receiver is not going to fix the Bears’ offense.

The only saving grace would be if Winfrey can become the dominant player they want at the position and if Harris becomes a pairing with Smith and not his replacement.

Regardless, this draft class is full of rookie mistakes that Poles needs to avoid during his inaugural draft as Chicago Bears general manager.

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