On this date in 2017, ESPN’s Todd McShay played GM for every NFL team in a three-round mock. And I’m not sure which has me more confused: No quarterbacks going in Round 1 of this mock that was made about 20 days before the 2017 Draft … or that Mitchell Trubisky was still his QB1? In either case, re-visiting this mock draft should serve as a reminder of how much things can change between now and draft day. But also, it’s worth remembering that mock drafts are good for assessing team needs and the perception of strengths and weaknesses in a given glass.
Alright, enough nostalgia time. Let’s dive in.
• Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns team up at The Athletic to create a dueling mock draft with a whole bunch of picks. Three trades left the Bears with the 26th, 52nd, 83rd, 100th, 126th, 149th, 221st, and 228th picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. A mock with eight picks and 16 different players is a lot to tackle, but I’m digging some of the themes. For instance, both mocks double-dip at positions of need. For Fishbain, it’s at quarterback with Davis Mills (Stanford) and Feleipe Franks (Arkansas). Meanwhile, Jahns doubles-up at receiver with Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz and North Texas’ Jaelon Darden, then again along the offensive line with Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg and Illinois Kendrick Green. There’s nothing wrong with a Chicago style double-dip, especially at *THOSE* positions.
• Considering Notre Dame’s excellence when it comes to producing pro-caliber linemen, I wouldn’t mind seeing Liam Eichnberg’s name pop up as the 52nd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft:
Notre Dame OT Liam Eichenberg didn’t allow a single sack over the last two seasons
— PFF Draft (@PFF_College) April 12, 2021
• The most intriguing pick in the Jahns-Fishbain draft might be Kwity Paye. A fearsome pass-rusher out of Michigan might not be at the top of everyone’s wish list right now, but teams can never have too many quality pass-rushers. With Khalil Mack turning the calendar over for another year and Robert Quinn’s long-term impact in question, I suppose it wouldn’t be the worst thing to add an edge defender early if they have enough upside. That Paye comes along with another draft pick as part of a trade-back makes it easier to stomach not taking an offensive player in Round 1.
• Pro Football Focus celebrates #MockDraftMonday with another defensive player going in Round 1. Piecing together a mock draft if he was in each team’s GM’s shoes, Sam Monson sends TCU safety Trevon Moehrig to the Bears with the 20th pick. To which I say, Huh? Is this a bit? Please tell me this is a bit.
• Don’t get it twisted. Moehrig is a stellar safety prospect who would fit nicely next to Eddie Jackson as a long-term tag team partner. However, Monson ignores (1) Chicago’s needs at other, more impactful defensive spots and (2) the Bears’ history of how they value drafting safeties. I’ll ultimately fall short of assuming this is a troll job in a mock. But … I can’t think an analytically minded drafter would take a safety in Round 1 if they were running the Bears. The line of thinking to get to that point would run counter to how PFF tends to value positions. Nevertheless, that’s what’s out there from PFF.
• Trevor Sikkema (The Draft Network) has a more sensible mock draft. One that sends the Bears a player at a position of need. Virginia Tech offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw is the pick here, and Sikkema’s reasoning is sound:
“I’ve seen wide receivers mocked to the Bears in the first round but I just don’t get it. The offensive line is terrible and the logic that they don’t have much certainty in the current receivers beyond 2021 doesn’t hold water. This current regime has to win now or they’re gone. Offensive line has to be the pick, and Darrisaw is one of the best to get in this class.”
• I’d spend some time bickering about the Bears’ offensive line being “terrible” … mostly because it isn’t terrible. Not any more, at least. Charles Leno Jr., James Daniels, Cody Whitehair, Sam Mustipher, Alex Bars, and Germain Ifedi is a perfectly cromulent, middle-of-the-road group. It’s high-floor, low ceiling. Nothing you’d write home about. But a group that’ll give you a solid effort and shouldn’t get your quarterback blown into smithereens. Add someone like Darrisaw, with a high floor and potential for a high ceiling and that group suddenly looks infinitely better.
• Pro Football Network’s Matthew Valdovinos also has the Bears taking Darrisaw. And while an offensive skill position player might be what some goal Bears fans want, I think Valdovinos’ writeup might be enough to swing some feelings. Darrisaw is his second-rated tackle and fifth overall player. In other words, getting a draft class’ No. 5 overall player at 20 is a freaking steal. There’s even a favorable comp to Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. If the Bears can get a player of that caliber with the 20th pick, I’d have no problems sticking at that spot.
• Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports sees the Bears’ one-year investment in Andy Dalton as a sign the Bears aren’t interested in trading up for a quarterback. Strange, to be sure. But we’ll roll with it for the time being, as Wilson places Oklahoma State offensive lineman Teven Jenkins as the Bears’ first-round pick. Wilson lauds Jenkins’ ability to play with an edge, something NFL teams desire from offensive linemen and an aspect of the game Chicago’s line has been missing since Kyle Long’s departure. In Round 2, Wilson sends Stanford quarterback Davis Mills to the Bears with their second-round pick. Knocking out two needs with two picks isn’t a bad idea. Mills is still something of a project, but the allure of a 5-star prep prospect might be too much to pass up.
• Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon also has the Bears taking Jenkins in his mock, but also name-checks Samuel Cosmi as a possibility. Cosmi was a standout performer at Texas. He certainly has first-round potential. But because there are a handful of tackle prospects who can boast similar strengths, it could be challenging to pick one over the other. I’d be curious what new analyst Tom Herman, who was Cosmi’s college coach with the Longhorns, has to say about his former player before investing in him as a pick.