The Chicago Bears made a commitment to defense this offseason, with a spending spree that reeled in three free agent defensive backs, but they might not stop there.
Over at ESPN, NFL Draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. revealed his latest mock draft, and he has the Bears landing three players who could help in defending against the pass.
The three-round affair is Kiper’s most in-depth journey, so let’s see what he thinks is instore for the Bears on Draft Day:
- Round 1, Pick 3: Jamal Adams, Safety, LSU
- Round 2, Pick 36: DeMarcus Walker, Defensive End, Florida State
- Round 3, Pick 67: Damontae Kazee, Cornerback, San Diego State
This is an intriguing trio, considering that it features two names that haven’t previously been linked to the Bears. And after already addressing cornerback via free agency (Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, and (to a lesser extent) B.W. Webb), picking Adams with the third overall selection allows the Bears to take the best player available and fill another need in the secondary in one fell swoop.
With one starting spot locked up with their first-round selection, Kiper sends Walker – a defensive end who had 16 sacks for the Florida State Seminoles – to the Bears in the second. The Bears have had mixed results with their last second-round pick from Florida State, defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, but only because he’s been injured twice. He has been a productive nose tackle in the 3-4 scheme, but needs to stay on the field to reach his full potential. Adding Walker could be a boost for the defensive line, especially if it moves Mitch Unrein into a reserve role.
Kazee is an interesting pick in the third round because he fills a need, but not one that is often seen as immediate. As Kiper points out, both Amukamara and Cooper are cornerbacks who play on the outside. The Bears project to play a lot of nickel defenses in 2017 (and beyond) so they would be wise to find a cornerback who can excel on the inside. At 5-foot-10, 184 pounds, Kazee isn’t the biggest corner, nor is he the fastest (running the 40-yard dash in the 4.5 range), but he picked off 15 passes over the last two seasons and has a nose for the football. Inside corners are a valuable commodity in the NFL and play heavy snap loads despite not being recognized as starters. Kazee, who Kiper believes is underrated in a class deep with corners, could be an ideal fit for a revamped secondary.
To be clear, Kiper insists he isn’t projecting when he makes these mock draft selections. Instead, Kiper provides a look at where teams can find value based on his rankings. When making the picks, Kiper does so with the team’s best interest in mind and doesn’t factor in trades that haven’t already happened.
With that said, if this three-round mock came to be, it would be far from a bad thing for the Bears.