Welcome back to targeted mock drafts. The last two considered the draft if the Bears were only allowed to take players from the Big Ten and then from the outside the Power 5. This mock will be a change of pace, because it’s only looking at players from the SEC. Only.
I didn’t allow myself any trades. I didn’t pretend this is something a GM would actually do. However, I did try to make selections that I thought would help move the 2017 Bears (and beyond) back into relevance. The full draft is here.
#3) Jamal Adams, LSU (S)
First, this is too high for a safety. Worse, Adams is more of a strong safety than a ball hawk. This move has a lot to dislike, but there is one big reason I feel comfortable making it anyway. In order to understand, I want you to ask yourself a question and think about it, carefully: who is the Bears’ leader on defense? Maybe Pernell McPhee? How long does his knee have left? The question of on-field and off-field leadership has me taking Adams without hesitation, despite the position he plays. The defense needs a personality, and it needs a field general.
With this pick, I am drafting a “natural born leader of men” who happens to play safety. In fact, a player who plays the position so well that the Bears should be able to “draft him and forget about the position for the next decade.” That said, this decision makes a lot more sense when the PAC-12 and the ACC are off-limits.
I almost went with: Jonathan Allen (DE). At this point, this seems like the obvious choice for the Bears’ first-round pick, and I think I would be okay with it if this happens in real life. However, even leaving aside the concerns over Allen’s health, I just think that Adams has more the intangibles that the defense has been missing for just too long.
Honorable mention: O.J. Howard. Tight ends are valuable to the game, and a solid tight end can be a game-changer. However, multiple reports question his motivation and his passion. If I’m going to spend the third overall pick on a non-premium position, that player needs to be the complete package (like Adams).
#36) Evan Engram, Mississippi (TE)
The lack of a worthwhile quarterback coming out of the SEC frees me up to explore some other positions with this pick, and there a valid concerns about whether or not the Bears have a true pass-catching tight end on the roster. Engram could allay those fears quickly. He’s able to make catches away from his body, and he’s quick to a point that borders on sudden. He’d be a welcome counterpart to Dion Sims, certainly.
I almost went with: Caleb Brantley (DL). This one was tough, and Brantley’s power is tempting. However, I ultimately feel like Engram does more for the Bears with where they are at, even though I have a slightly higher raw grade on the defensive player. If Brantley had fewer offsides penalties, or just a bit more reach, I probably would have swung the other way.
#67 Teez Tabor, Florida (CB)
Somebody, in the comments, please talk me out of this pick. What I saw of him when I watched clips was a player with speed and agility who was able to find the ball and get a hand on it. However, in a couple of profiles I saw indications that he’s more of a finesse player and that he avoids contact. I’m not sure which one I believe, but I know the team needs a corner who can find the ball. It doesn’t need a corner who is afraid to fight for it. I went with my own eyes instead of the profiles on this one.
I almost went with: Ryan Anderson. Anderson is a solid player and doesn’t quit--whether it’s going after a tackle or trying to rush the passer. I just don’t know what he excels at, as he’s “not quite” fast enough, explosive enough, and so on. I think he could be a solid role-player, but I think the team has role-players at linebacker already.
#111 Daeshon Hall, Texas A&M (Edge)
Listed as an Edge, DE, or OLB depending on who you listen to, Hall has length and flexibility. There is talk that he might be able to make a rushing defensive end inside of a 3-4 system, but for that to happen I think he’ll need to gain some strength. However, even if all he does at first is contribute reps on the line while he gets stronger and adjusts to the NFL, depth at DE with the potential to become something more is worth this pick in my opinion.
I almost went with: Kendall Beckwith, LSU (ILB). If Beckwith (6’2”, 243lbs) hadn’t torn his ACL, he is my selection here—though he probably wouldn’t be sitting in the fourth if that were true, either. As it stands, I needed to balance my own love of linebacker play against the reality of team needs. Hall has a much better chance of contributing early and then developing into something more, whereas Beckwith seems to duplicate what the team already has.
#117 Malachi Dupre, LSU (WR)
The 6’2” former track star has an ability to adjust to the ball. I don’t think anybody playing DB in the NFL is going to live in terror of Dupre burning them, but I do think he’s versatile enough to provide a wide receiving weapon to a team that’s going to need offensive help.
I almost went with: Davon Godchaux (DL). I noticed Godchaux when I was watching LSU games for other players. I could be completely wrong, but I think Godchaux has enough talent and enough skill to make it in the pros. However, if he does, it will probably be on a team that uses a more traditional 4-3 front.
#147, Joshua Dobbs, Tennessee (QB)
I don’t see a lot of quarterback talent coming out of the SEC this year, but I think Dobbs is the best of the lot. He’s got the right height (6’3”) even if he’s on the lighter side (I’ve seen 210lbs to 220lbs listed). He’s not a complete product. Still, he seems like he might be a serviceable backup, and he can make deep throws well enough that teams couldn’t ignore the deep threat. He doesn’t seem to have a lot of zip, though. Taking him here is my way of refusing to accept that the team is set at quarterback, because I can see circumstances where Dobbs becomes an honorary McCown brother.
I still didn’t take: ArDarius Stewart, Alabama (WR). Stewart was given a potential second-round grade by the draft advisory committee, and I guess I can see it. His grade is all over the place from others, and I look at him and I see a player who did well on a strong team when he wasn’t asked to carry that big of a load. Maybe I’m wrong, but I kept seeing his name as available and I never felt like pulling the trigger. In this mock, he went to Jacksonville right after I took Dobbs. He’ll probably go on to be the next Antonio Brown.
#221) Dwayne Thomas, LSU (CB)
If I’m honest, I didn’t know what to do with this pick. Everybody I had seen still lingering in the 7th round in the couple of run-throughs I did before was gone (mostly in the late fifth and early sixth), and I was only down to players I had an aggregate grade on (compiled from other profiles) instead of one of the players I personally singled out to watch. However, because I had been watching LSU games for Adams and Beckwith, I at least felt like I knew what I was getting with Thomas.
Obviously, this is a very different draft if Garrett slips down (which doesn’t happen in a sane universe, so there’s still a chance). That said, I was disappointed in how the talent from the SEC this year lined up with the value available to the Bears’ actual draft position. That’s going to change, though, in the next one, when the ACC is up.