I love mock drafts as much as the next fan, but this is the time of year where I need to remind myself – and others – that mocks aren’t so much of a prediction of what will happen as they are a tool to give perspective about what this class is all about. Mock drafts provide insight as to what groups are deep, what team needs are, where position runs could happen, and other small things.
Nevertheless, we’re still discussing mock drafts and other goodness because we’re three weeks away.
• I’m noticing a growing trend in recent mocks when it comes to the Bears. Because for a team to have as many glaring offensive needs as this one, recent trends are suggesting Chicago could turn to a defensive player with its first-round pick. On the one hand, it’s not as if the Bears don’t have defensive needs. They let cornerbacks Buster Skrine and Kyle Fuller go. Safety Tashaun Gipson Sr. remains a free agent. And one of the oldest units in the league could stand to get younger.
• With that being said, I’m not surprised things are trending in this direction. Moreover, some of the first-round caliber cornerback talent intrigues me. For instance, Daniel Jeremiah’s latest mock has Chicago taking Northwestern’s Greg Newsome II. The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs has the Bears selecting Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley — as does ESPN insider Mike Tannenbaum, who used to be the Jets GM.
• How about some Farley highlights for your eyeballs?
• Interestingly enough, Jeremiah, Biggs, and Tannenbaum each note how Chicago could use the pick on an offensive player. It’s a bit of a hedge by each, but one that perfectly captures the Bears’ situation. The obvious thing would be to take an offensive player. But with needs at other positions, making a case for taking the best player available (regardless of position) is easy. So if that player is on defense, so be it. Day 2 figures to have ample opportunities to upgrade at offensive line and receiver. And because GM Ryan Pace has done well with Day 3 picks over the years, not taking an offensive player in Round 1 wouldn’t be the worst thing.
• One mock draft that does have the Bears going with an offensive player in Round 1 is the latest from Pro Football Focus. In an exercise in which Ben Linsley drafts how he would if he was in each GM’s shoes, the Bears land USC lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker. There have been a few mocks sending Vera-Tucker to Chicago — and with good reason. Vera-Tucker is versatile, posting a 78.8 overall grade as a left guard in 2019. But improving upon that with an 81.8 grade as a left tackle last season is impressive. The Bears could plop Vera-Tucker into the right guard or right tackle spots in Week 1 and be a better group for doing so.
• At this point, you’re probably wondering what it would take for the Bears to move up to a place to take a quarterback. Yesterday, we discussed the Falcons being in a position to trade out of No. 4. There, Chicago could take the best prospect who doesn’t make it out of the top-3. One of Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones will be the best quarterbacks available when the owner of the fourth overall pick goes on the clock. If it’s gonna be the Bears, here’s an idea of what it might cost:
Since people keep asking about Chicago to No. 4
It just cost SF No. 12, 2022 1st, 2022 3rd, 2023 1st to get to No. 3
No. 20 to No. 4 would probably take No. 20, No. 52, No. 83, 2022 1st, 2023 1st
— Brad Spielberger (@PFF_Brad) April 6, 2021
• It’s a steep price, to be sure. But one the Bears have to pay if the Falcons are going to take themselves out of the top-5. It’s possible Atlanta doesn’t even make a deal. Evan Birchfield of SB Nation’s The Falcoholic shares reporting from ESPN’s Christ Mortensen, who says GM Terry Fontenot might want to take a quarterback, while new Head Coach Arthur Smith wants to stick with Matt Ryan. It’s a notable split for the two new guys heading the Falcons. But at least it doesn’t sound like a combustible situation. Not yet, anyway. If no Atlanta deal comes, dialing up the Bengals (5th), Dolphins (6th), and Panthers (8th) is an obvious next step.
• Brace yourselves. The 49ers are doing everything to throw everyone off their scent:
Ohio State QB Justin Fields will throw for NFL teams again on April 14… and this time, #49ers coach Kyle Shanahan and GM John Lynch are expected to attend. Both were in Tuscaloosa watching #Bama QB Mac Jones (and others) while Fields had his first Pro Day.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 7, 2021
• Chris Emma (670 The Score) diagnoses the Bears’ needs, which are obvious to everyone who’s watched this team the last few seasons. Nevertheless, Emma shines the light on Chicago’s most dire position groups and lends suggestions for possible draft fits.
• Larry Mayer answers a question in his mailbag about which position groups are the most deep. It’s noteworthy that 16 receivers were taken in the first 100 picks of the 2020 NFL Draft, and that this year’s group looks to be just as deep. Perhaps that’s a reason why none of the mock drafts above have the Bears taking one in Round 1. Chicago could conceivably land a stud at another position of need early, then unearth a pass-catching gem later. Not that would I expect this to be the norm, but let’s not forget that Darnell Mooney was a fifth-round pick. In other words, I wouldn’t be surprised if another late-round gem gets snagged by a number of teams if the draft board falls a certain way.
• For your listening pleasure:
Apple Podcasts: https://t.co/59CupnGzP9
— Hub Arkush (@Hub_Arkush) April 7, 2021
• After a year off, the NFL Draft green room is BACK! Among the players who have accepted early invites who also have been mocked to the Bears at some point in recent weeks include Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley, North Dakota State QB Trey Lance, and Alabama QB Mac Jones.
• Seeing this get released today was like getting that surprise present on Christmas. But if Christmas was in April:
This is the definitive Draft Guide all NFL fans need.
636 players. 267 pages. 13 positions. 262,000 words.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) April 7, 2021