A new wave of mock drafts hit our shores, with a common thread tying them all together.
It’s no secret the Chicago Bears need help along the offensive line. And in these mocks, they’re getting some.
Alijah Vera-Tucker, USC
Mel Kiper Jr.’s third mock draft still has the Bears addressing offensive line needs. But rather than repeat his previous picks, Kiper puts a new name on our radar.
Alijah Vera-Tucker is a talented and versatile lineman who Kiper describes as “a high-upside lineman with all the traits to be a longtime starter at tackle.” Based on that sentence alone, I’m intrigued by what Vera-Tucker can offer.
Going through his collegiate profile, Vera-Tucker has experience at guard and tackle. And as we’ve learned with the likes of Cody Whitehair and James Daniels, there is value in versatility. But back to Vera-Tucker, whose glow up to a first-round pick has been a journey.
As a freshman, Vera-Tucker saw action at right guard. Moving onto his sophomore year, he lined up at left guard. There, he started 13 games and earned third-team All-American honors (PFF) and first-team All-Pac-12 (AP) recognition. A year later, Vera-Tucker was the Trojans’ starting left tackle. And since the Bears could use a starting lineman at any number of positions, perhaps Vera-Tucker is a more sensible fit than other linemen on the board.
Christian Darrisaw, Virginia Tech
A pair of mock drafts send Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw to Chicago, and with good reason. Darrisaw is one of the best offensive linemen in a class loaded with top tier offensive line prospects.
Bucky Brooks notes the Bears haven’t drafted an offensive lineman before the fifth round since 2011. That alone tells you everything you need to know as to how the Bears got to this moment with their offensive line. But Brooks changes that by selecting Darrisaw, whom he describes as a “plug-and-play prospect with all-star potential.” What a drool-worthy sentence. Imagine the Bears drafting a Week 1 starter with their first first-round pick since 2018. Then dream on it being someone with star potential. And at a position of high importance, no less. Before I go any further, I need a cleanup on my keypad because of excessive drool.
Kudos to Adam Jahns, for somehow snaking away two first-round picks from his fellow scribes at The Athletic in the site’s beat writer mock draft. Jahns should probably leave his secrets regarding the art of the deal with Bears GM Ryan Pace. You know … in case he wants to compare notes or seeks inspiration.
Because Jahns sees Charles Leno Jr. and Germain Ifedi as placeholders, he snags Darrisaw with the 20th overall pick. And while cornerback is a possibility after losing Kyle Fuller to a cap casualty, Jahns takes advantage of a loaded class to get a top-tier prospect who figures to be a long-term fixture.
Jahns also swoops in the back end of the first round to take Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. It costs a pretty penny, sending pick Nos. 52, 83, and 202 to Buffalo to make it happen. And at face value, it seems worth it. But because we’re digging into offensive linemen here, we’ll use this as an opportunity to tease to a post to be shared later.
Teven Jenkins, Oklahoma State
Add PFF’s Brad Spielberger to the list of analysts who envisions the Bears drafting an offensive lineman with their first-round pick. But instead of Vera-Tucker or Darrisaw, Spielberger picks Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins as the plug-and-play tackle option.
Check out this thread highlighting Jenkins’ blocking excellence:
Watch the “50 yard” marker, Teven Jenkins blocks his defender down the LOS on this zone run. Then he finishes the block by driving the edge defender into the BENCH!! Woah! #NFL #NFLDraft #KroenickFilm pic.twitter.com/D40VReNTzJ
— The Podfather (@TheBurgundyZone) March 8, 2021
Jenkins’ 93.6 run-blocking grade was the third best in college football last season. Popping Jenkins into Bobby Massie’s right tackle spot could help clear rushing lanes for third-year running back David Montgomery. Last year, Montgomery rushed for more than 1,000 yards. That feat is impressive, considering the Bears started three different undrafted free agents, a seventh-round rookie, and a guard who slid out to tackle out of necessity. Upgrading that line would make Montgomery a happy camper.