The NFL Draft kicks off in four weeks. But unless the Bears do something wild, they won’t go on the clock for four weeks and one day. You can be patient, right?
Loaded at Positions of Need
The Bears don’t have a first-round pick, but don’t let that bother you. They should be in a position to reap the benefits of having two top-50 selections:
— PFF (@PFF) March 30, 2022
Chicago has needs at all of these positions. So, yeah, it is encouraging to see that these are the groups most loaded with talent.
I would identify the Bears’ biggest needs being at wide receiver, offensive line, and cornerback. And with that in mind, it is worth pointing out that there are 26 offensive linemen, 15 receivers, and 12 cornerbacks ranked between 32-150 on Pro Football Focus’ big board. That is where the Bears have five of their six picks. In other words, the Bears could get volume and value if they play their cards right.
Here’s Where Some of the Latest Mocks Have the Bears Going…
CBS Sports: OT Bernhard Raimann (Central Michigan) and OG Cole Strange (Chattanooga) — You want offensive line help? You got it. And with two top-50 picks, to boot!
Raimann began transitioning to left tackle during 2020, which makes this glow-up all the more remarkable. Perhaps being a tight end checks that athletic offensive lineman box that first-year Bears GM Ryan Poles wants to fill. As for Strange, he was a five-year starter for the Mocs in Chattanooga after taking advantage of the COVID exception that allowed players to take a sixth year of eligibility. A three-time All-Southern Conference performer, Strange has 49 games (44 starts) under his belt in a career that included All-America status at the FCS level in 2021.
Adding two offensive linemen would have Bears fans hootin’ and hollerin’ after an offseason where significant investment hadn’t been made to this position group. But it would come at the cost of passing up a bunch of receivers, which happens to be another position of need for Chicago. The need to bolster the big boys up front is obvious. But I don’t know if I’d be too comfortable about passing up on the likes of Skyy Moore (42nd), George Pickens (44th), and Christian Watson (49th) in the process.
Chad Reuter, NFL Media: S Lewis Cine (Georgia), OT Abraham Lucas (Washington State), WR David Bell (Purdue) — Choosing a safety with your first-ever pick would look weird for Poles. But to each their own, I guess.
Maybe Cine would be an ideal fit for this secondary. That Georgia defense has produced some studs over the years, and it isn’t as if the Bears couldn’t use help out there. But I wonder if players who go later in this particular mock would be better value. Although, I’m totally into Lucas as a second-round pick who turns into plug-and-play tackle (or guard) right away.
As for Bell, his stock is slipping after some slow 40 times. But should it?
— Bleacher Nation Bears (@BN_Bears) March 29, 2022
PFF Draft Simulator: DB Jalen Pitre (Baylor) — Everything we said above about Cine can be applicable to Pitre. No doubt Pitre is an intriguing prospect who could be the type of defensive playmaker Head Coach Matt Eberflus and Defensive Coordinator Alan Williams covet in this draft. But is a safety truly the best fit for the Bears with their first of two second-round picks? My lean is no, but computers are smart and I do not want to offend PFF’s draft simulator. I’m trying my hardest to keep the peace around here.
These Mock Drafts Would Be a Bears Nightmare
ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. is a long-standing authority figure when it comes to NFL mock drafts. If not for Kiper, who knows what this realm of the football world would look like. Anyway, Kiper’s picks are based on considerations including his rankings, a given team’s needs, and what he has been hearing from coaches, scouts, and executives around the league. In other words, when he offers something up, it’s best we listen.
With that in mind, it is notable that six wide receivers, and seven offensive linemen go off the board in his first 32 picks. Among the most notable names who were connected to the Bears in one way or another include Zion Johnson (26th, Titans), Chris Olave (16th, Eagles), Jahon Dotson (25th, Bills). This still leaves the Bears ample options when turning over into Round 2. But while there figures to be solid value on the board at 39, just know know that some names we’ve grown accustomed to seeing as Day 2 targets could be long gone by the time that day rolls around.
Daniel Jeremiah (NFL Media) has a nightmarish mock, too. I’d consider it even worse than Kiper’s, especially since it has just one QB going in Round 1. Gulp. Jeremiah’s latest reminds us that expecting a quality receiver to simply fall in the Bears’ lap in Round 2 isn’t a certainty. Especially not when Jeremiah has seven (!) receivers going in the first round. That’s because we can add North Dakota State’s Christian Watson to a group that includes Dotson, Olave, Garrett Wilson, Drake London, and Jameson Williams as possible first-round picks.
Again, there will be good players available in Round 2. And at various different positions. But it is becoming evident that we should be ready to re-adjust our expectations of who might be on the board at No. 39.
Odds and Ends
• That dream of reuniting Justin Fields with his old Ohio State chums is fading:
Conversation with a high-level NFL scout this morning:
"Those Ohio State wide receivers are gonna go A LOT earlier than people think. Both of 'em."
— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) March 31, 2022
• Maybe a different receiver with prior Fields connections makes more sense:
If he's available for the #Bears at 39, Pickens has that Fields connection and would give them the bigger deep threat 'X' they need.
— Jacob Infante (@jacobinfante24) March 25, 2022
• It won’t take much more to get me on board with joining the Pickens hive if there are more of these clips out there:
George Pickens finding the DBs blind spot & working it. That’s great separation. pic.twitter.com/BlIHghWctj
— Damian Parson (@DP_NFL) March 30, 2022
• Something to consider:
There's been a lot of talk about Bears taking a WR at 39, and people are wondering who might be available for them. History can be a helpful guide there, so here's a list of how many WRs have gone in round 1 and top 40 for each of the last 10 drafts pic.twitter.com/SDXZXmUs0V
— Johnathan Wood (@Johnathan_Wood1) March 31, 2022
Source for WR draft data: https://t.co/N5o986PdAv
Source for consensus big board: https://t.co/axnpFr6fGE
— Johnathan Wood (@Johnathan_Wood1) March 31, 2022