Don’t be sad that it’s over, be happy that it happened.
NFL Mock Draft season is coming to a close. Starting on Thursday, we’ll know which players are going to what teams. Our lengthy journey is nearly over. But first, here’s one (and by one, I mean a handful of mock drafts, updated big boards, and some notes) for the road.
- Chris Burke of The Athletic cooks up his final Round 1 mock draft, which allows us to kick off the festivities with the Bears trading out of the No. 8 pick. The Bears and Dolphins execute a deal that allows Miami to move up and take UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen. After sliding back three spots, Chicago chooses Ohio State’s Denzel Ward – who is arguably the top cornerback prospect in the draft. In addition to the 11th pick, the Bears receive the 73rd overall pick in the draft as part of the deal.
- Trading back might be a bitter pill to swallow for some, but that feeling might change if Burke’s scenario of Quenton Nelson, Bradley Chubb and Derwin James being off the board when the Bears go on the clock. By trading out of the eighth spot, the team does pass on the opportunity to draft Boston College pass-rusher Harold Landry and Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. However, landing a top defensive back who Burke believes can “fit in any coverage” and is “almost an extra linebacker vs. the run” is quite the consolation prize.
- The Athletic’s draft “big board” has been updated … and the layout provides a different visual perspective. I’m a fan.
- Mike Mayock’s latest draft board has only two quarterbacks (USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen) in the top-10, which suggests any number of top-tier candidates could fall to the Bears with the No. 8 pick. Let’s envision a scenario where four quarterbacks, the top running back (Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, and the top pass-rusher (North Carolina State’s Bradley Chubb) are off the board. Even though the Buccaneers will have their pick of the litter, the Bears will be in a fine position to draft one of these players Tampa Bay won’t select: Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick, Florida State safety Derwin James, Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, and Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea. That’s a pretty great group to be picking from, especially when you consider the Bears’ place in the back half of the top-10.
- NFL.com contributor and NFL on FOX analyst Charles Davis shared his third mock draft, which might as well be the final one before the big day. He has the Bears picking Quenton Nelson, believing the choice will give Chicago the makings of an All-Pro-caliber interior offensive line. Strength in the middle of the line could be beneficial for quarterback Mitch Trubisky, but we thought last year’s group was going to be pretty good when it was veteran Pro Bowler Josh Sitton at left guard. Health will be a key to success in 2018, and I suppose adding a younger, healthier Nelson could help matters.
- Nelson continues to be a popular choice for the Bears in various mock drafts leading up to the real one. Dan Durkin and Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic offer up three scenarios that could land at the Bears’ feet come draft day. Two of the scenarios have the All-American guard off the board when Chicago goes on the clock. And in the third, Fishbain can’t shake the idea that the build up connecting Nelson and the Bears means they won’t take him. I’ll be honest, that suspicion has been on my mind, especially when thinking back to the team being connected to Jonathan Allen and Jamal Adams early and often during the pre-draft build-up last year. Just something to keep in mind.
- Seriously, keep it in mind:
The consensus of National people is that if Nelson is there at 8 he will be a Bear
— Greg Gabriel (@greggabe) April 24, 2018
- Da Bears Brothers staff conducted its complete mock draft, which doesn’t have Quenton Nelson going to the Bears in Round 1. So while Nelson has been the most-linked player to the Bears, it’s possible he won’t even make it to No. 8. Prepare yourselves for that possibility and don’t say we didn’t warn ya if it comes to fruition.
- Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh believes the smart play in the 2018 NFL Draft is to play it safe. As has come to be expected, the team is playing it close to the vest and the leaks have been pretty limited. With that in mind, Haugh believes it’s difficult to envision a situation where the Bears aren’t drafting at No. 8. Because they’re in the top-10 and a bunch of quarterbacks should go before their turn to take a player, the Bears should be sitting pretty without having to move around. And while things could change, it sounds like Bears GM Ryan Pace is ready to make a move if necessary.
- Tribune teammate Brad Biggs notes that the Bears need to be successful in Round 2 of the NFL Draft in order to have a good weekend. Chicago owns the No. 39 selection and could be in a position to land a first-round caliber talent who happens to drop into the second day in the draft. While there has been a focus on Notre Dame’s top-rated guard, Biggs points out the Bears could land Josh Sitton’s replacement in the form of UTEP’s Will Henandez, Georgia’s Isaiah Wynn, and Arkansas’ Frank Ragnow. Perhaps the Bears add on the defensive side of the ball with a pass-rusher (LSU’s Arden Key, Ohio State’s Sam Hubbard) or cornerback (UCF’s Mike Hughes).
- Biggs also offers up the possibility of the Bears using a second-round pick to round out the backfield. The team met with USC’s Ronald Jones II at the Combine, while a pair of Georgia running backs (Sony Michel, Nick Chubb) or one of two SEC studs (Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson or LSU’s Derrius Guice) could sneak into the Bears’ draft picture. Running back isn’t necessarily a need, but the offense would be that much more dangerous with a back who could give a different look beyond Jordan Howard’s “thunder” and Tarik Cohen’s “lightning” in 2018.
- Anyone think the Bears could be in the market for a punter? Personally, I’m hoping for the Bears to score on every offensive possession, thus, eliminating the need for a punter. But since there is a chance the Bears might need to punt once in a while – ya know, just to mix it up – this might be a guy worth keeping an eye on:
If you're looking for a punter in this draft class, @TexasFootball's Michael Dickson produced the highest grade we've seen from a punter in four years of grading college football this past season pic.twitter.com/dzRxYvr3Cc
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 24, 2018