As we veer away from free agency, the upcoming NFL Draft comes into greater focus.
This holds true for the Chicago Bears, a team which holds the third overall pick, three selections among the first 70, and several significant holes to fill throughout the roster.
So when NFL analyst Mike Mayock updates his draft prospect rankings, it’s easy to gravitate there after free agency put the team in a place to draft the best player available. And with as many needs as the team has right now, general manager Ryan Pace can go in many different directions.
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Mayock’s latest update features a rising star of particular interest to the Bears, as Stanford’s defensive stud, Solomon Thomas, shot up to the No. 2 edge rusher in the draft. This is high praise for Thomas, considering that the draft’s top edge rusher prospect, Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett, is the consensus top pick in the draft. Thomas excelled playing along the line in Stanford’s defense, but could be a jack-of-all-trades in the NFL.
Thomas’ skill set makes him the kind of player defensive coordinator Vic Fangio probably dreams of getting his hands on, even if he might be described as a “tweener” by some.
On the other hand, there are no surprises in Mayock’s quarterback rankings, where Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer still ranks as the top dog. And it’s been that way for a while, at least in Mayock’s opinion. Clemson’s DeShaun Watson, North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, and Cal’s Davis Webb round out the top five. If the Bears’ attendance at Clemson’s pro day is any indication of the team’s thinking, the brain trust is – at minimum – considering its options with Watson as a potential first-round selection. Watson’s pro day came with mixed reviews, but there is much to consider here.
There was plenty of movement in Mayock’s ranking of draft prospects in the secondary, an area the Bears are likely keeping a close eye. Among the surprises on Mayock’s board is his ranking of Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers ahead of LSU’s Jamal Adams, who is growing in popularity as a Bears pick on the mock draft circuit. If you’ll recall, Peppers worked out as a linebacker and defensive back at the NFL Scouting Combine and played numerous positions at Michigan. His versatility could be an asset for any team with a hint of creativity on the defensive side of the ball, but Peppers hasn’t been projected to be picked in the top-five.
Cornerbacks saw the most movement with Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore (if healthy, he would make a fine selection with the third pick) moving into the top spot and three new corners entering the top five. Four safeties are on the rise in Mayock’s eyes, including Senior Bowl standout Obi Melifonwu from Connecticut, while Ohio State’s Malik Hooker (an intriguing prospect in his own right) took a step back in Mayock’s rankings.