That second wave of top mock drafts from football’s top analysts is coming through, which means plenty of movement should be on the horizon. Or maybe not.
Albert Breer of SI.com’s The MMQB shared his second mock recently, and sends the Chicago Bears a familiar face in Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward with the eighth overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
The idea of the Bears drafting Ward is logical. Even if Chicago re-signs Kyle Fuller or goes to the top of the market and brings in a top-tier free agent like Malcolm Butler, the team’s cornerback needs wouldn’t be fully addressed. Ward could be part of the long-term answer at the position. He doesn’t have the prototypical cornerback size, but is an excellent man-to-man defender who is willing to engage against the run – two things that are necessary in a Vic Fangio-coached defense.
But what stands out most in Breer’s mock draft isn’t the Bears getting a cornerback, but where the wide receivers fall in the first round.
SMU’s Courtland Sutton is the first receiver off the board, going to the Buffalo Bills with the 21st pick. In his first mock draft back in November, Breer had the Cleveland Browns taking Sutton with the 13th pick (which belonged to the Houston Texans). It’s evident that Breer believes it’s possible for Sutton to sneak up some draft boards. And for what it’s worth, Breer still had the Bears taking Ward with the ninth pick.
The second receiver to come off the board in Breer’s second mock is not Alabama’s Calvin Ridley. Instead, Breer sees the New Orleans Saints adding to their group of receivers by drafting Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk. And after a lengthy wait on draft night, the Jacksonville Jaguars use the 29th pick in the first round to take Ridley. Breer cites Allen Robinson’s “uncertain future” as a reason why Jacksonville taking the Alabama product in the first round makes sense.
Ridley dropping that far down the draft board would be a draft-night shocker, to be sure. Believed to be the best and most polished prospect at receiver, Ridley nearly falling out of the first round would be an unforeseen turn. So much so, you’d wonder if a team like the Bears would be willing to trade back into the first round in order to snag Ridley.
Three quarterbacks go in the top-5, which helps the Bears land one of the draft’s five best non-quarterback prospects. Hopefully, Chicago has its offensive line situated heading into the draft because Breer has the New York Jets taking Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson with the sixth pick. In this scenario, Breer predicts the Jets sign free agent quarterback Kirk Cousins, thus, eliminating their need to draft a quarterback.
Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds (most recently mocked to go to the Bears by Mel Kiper Jr.) drops to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 9, while Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith – who might be the best prospect at his position – falls to the Oakland Raiders at No. 10.
A lot can change in the 64 days leading up to the NFL Draft, but we’re already starting to see a shift in the mocks. Things will certainly move in a different direction after the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, then again after free agency starts.