Earlier in the offseason, I posted an initial mock draft prior to the annual NFL Scouting Combine, and prior to the beginning of the unrestricted free agency period. If you'd like to look at who I originally selected in my first attempt, then feel free to click on this link that will lead you to the promised land. Alas, as time has passed between then and now, many transactions and other personnel moves have taken place that changes the landscape rather considerably.
Since that last FanPost, Ryan Pace has been hard at work re-tooling the entire roster while bringing back some of his own key players. To be more precise, here is the current haul that the Bears have brought in through free agency:
Re-signings - WR Alshon Jeffery (Non-Exclusive Franchise Tag), CB Tracy Porter, OL Nick Becton, RB Jacquizz Rodgers, CB Sherrick McManis, DE Mitch Unrein, WR Marc Mariani, WR Josh Bellamy, TE Zach Miller, TE Rob Housler
For more information on those signings, as well as key departures, be sure to click on this link to the tracker page here at WCG.
Through their efforts, they've managed to address quite a few glaring needs from last season, particularly the several needs within the front seven on defense. They also overhauled the strong side of the O-Line through one signing, as Bobby Massie takes over at RT, with Kyle Long being kicked back inside to RG. Needless to say, the Bears have put themselves in a situation that Ryan Pace planned for from day one: a position to truly draft the best player available (BPA) on their respective boards. That, of which, is how this mock will be laid out. Without further delay, let's see who the Bears land in this edition of the mock draft.
1st round, 11th overall: DeForest Buckner, DE, Oregon - In a class considered by many to be the strongest for D-Linemen in the past several years, Buckner stands out as arguably the best overall prospect for several reasons. First, he's a freak of nature coming in at 6'7", and weighing in at over 290 pounds. With that size comes plenty of power and explosiveness, and here's a good gif I found that provides an example of that:
Granted, it's a total mismatch in terms of the level of competition he's facing, but he just blows past both the LT and the LG when rushing the QB on that play. If that wasn't convincing enough, he's doing so while lined up as a 3-4 End, which is still a position of need for the Bears. Overall, he's comparable to current Cardinals DE Calais Campbell, so long as he can improve on his technique and leverage when engaging NFL caliber O-Linemen.
2nd round, 39th overall: Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama - With the departure of Matt Forte, and their recent attempt of trying to land CJ Anderson falling short, the Bears have a clear need of finding a dynamic RB to add into their corps. I have a great amount of faith in Jeremy Langford to be "the guy," but it's also characteristic of John Fox's teams to feature multiple backs, and Derrick Henry would make for a fine addition as the big bull to pound the rock with. Don't let his size fool you; Henry has plenty of speed behind his 6'3" 230+ pound frame. Here's a great example of him showing off some speed and explosiveness in a classic screen play Alabama loved to use last season:
And, for the sake of pure awesomeness, here's another gif of him blowing through the LOS with his downhill running style:
As you can see, he runs like a runaway freight train; and once he's reached the second level, you're not bringing that man down. Considering the increasing trend of smallish ILB's being used extensively in the NFL, he could thrive with a team bent on playing smash mouth football.
3rd Round 70th overall: Xavien Howard, DB, Baylor - The Bears still need to add playmakers within the back half of their defense, and here's a player that would fit that bill just fine. Where he's not the fastest DB available, he's certainly gifted in his natural ability to lock down on receivers, and has a comparable build to Charles Tillman in terms of size and bulk. In addition to his size, he has a knack for making plays on the ball, recording nine interceptions and 23 pass breakups in two seasons as a full-time starter. He does need to tone it down when it comes to pressing receivers on the LOS, but his aggressiveness would be a fit in Fangio's coverage schemes. He also has the ability to play Safety if the team really feels his best position is over the top, as opposed to lining up directly on a receiver.
4th Round: Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State - Ryan Pace made a rather curious statement when he mentioned that mid-round QBs "intrigued him," and it's been known for a while that the Bears have been doing their research on QBs expected to be drafted after day one. Hackenberg is an intriguing prospect in his own right, as where his size and athleticism are impressive, his inconsistency has been a major problem in his game. For the great games he had against Illinois (sorry Illini fans!) and San Diego State, he's had awful games as seen against Temple and Rutgers. He's clearly not ready to be a starting QB, not yet at least. Provide him a few years to sit behind Jay Cutler, and take in the teachings from Dowell Loggains, and he may be able to develop into a decent NFL player. Of course, he'd make for a feasible back-up as well.
4th Round (From Patriots): Austin Hooper, TE, Stanford - With Martellus Bennett being traded to the Patriots, the Bears have a need for a balanced prospect at TE. Hooper offers a solid combination of blocking and receiving ability for a TE, although he comes in as a little small for the position. Overall, it's a weak class for TE's this year, and it would be a great value for the Bears if he manages to fall this far into the draft.
5th Round: Antonio Morrison, ILB, Florida - Despite the complete overhaul of the ILB position already, Morrison would add meaningful depth to a position that could use more homegrown talent to develop behind projected starters Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. If it weren't for his severe knee injuries, this former Gator would certainly be towards the top of his position group in terms of potential.
6th Round: Joe Schobert, OLB, Wisconsin - Want to talk about a player who plays larger than his listed size, look no further than this former Badger. He doesn't have the size or speed most scouts would want in a 3-4 style OLB, but he possesses a package of aggressiveness, tenacity, and power that overwhelms O-Linemen. He would also make an immediate impact on Special Teams, and has the tendency of being a very hard hitting player.
6th Round (From Panthers): Dan Vitale, FB, Northwestern - I had him mocked to the Bears in this round of my earlier mock, and I just can't shrug off the idea of seeing him in a Bears uniform. Having him in a formation with Derrick Henry and/or Jeremy Langford out of the back field in goal line sets would be devastating, to say the least.
7th Round: DJ Reader, NT, Clemson - He's a massive human being, coming in at 6'3" and over 340 pounds. He'll offer you a sound run stuffer, but not much in the pass rushing department.
What do you guys think of this speculative haul? Is it better, or worse, than my previous attempt? Sound off in the comments below. Bear Down!