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Mock Draft: Big Ten-Only Edition

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Despite free agency taking center stage this week, I felt like taking a different perspective on the classic Mock Draft. For that reason, this mock has one very artificial limit--although I used Fanspeak’s normal board, I only allowed myself to select players from the Big Ten. As our own EJ Snyder said when he looked at things, value gets weird in a hurry. You can see the full draft [here], but these are my choices. The goal is not to suggest that this is a sane or rational thing for a GM to do. Rather, it’s a chance to highlight some different players.

#3) Malik Hooker, Ohio State

If I can be totally honest, there are only three players in the Big Ten that I can see being worth a Top 10 pick: Hooker, Lattimore, and Peppers. I like Peppers, but not for the 2017 Bears. Ultimately, this is a judgmental call on my part, and I think that Hooker has more potential to develop into the sort of ball hawk that can transform a defense, and I like his slightly greater size.

I almost went with: Marshon Lattimore. Check out our draft guru’s write-up if you want to know why.

#36) Desmond King, Iowa

This was an easy one for me, and I spent most of picks 25-35 hoping he’d still be there by the time the Bears’ pick came around. I think Desmond King has the potential to be something special. Not only does he have an instinct for the ball and a talent for taking it out of the air (or at least getting a fingertip on it), he also gives Bears fans something they have been missing for a long time—an actual electric return man. Double-dipping in the secondary is easy to justify for the Bears (no matter what happens in free agency), especially when the talent at other positions is just not there for the Big Ten.

I almost went with: TJ Watt (but not really). Get past the name and you’re left with a guy who’s a gifted natural athlete and a wrap-up tackler. He’s good, but I do not buy the talk that he’s a potential first-rounder in terms of ability. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just see King as having more of the difference-making ability that a team on the rebound desperately needs. I think Watt will be steady and reliable, and I wouldn’t be bummed about this choice.

#67) Jake Butt, Michigan

I’m not convinced that Jake Butt will ever be more than a Zach Miller clone, but a healthy Zach Miller makes for a pretty good tight end, and it seems really unlikely that Butt will have quite the same run of injury bad luck as Miller. The Bears need help at tight end, and Butt has good hands and an ability to work in traffic. Even I can tell he needs work as a blocker, but that’s part of why he’s available in the third round.

I almost went with: Jaleel Johnson. In fact, I was originally targeting Johnson in this round, because in the two or three previous mocks I had done, Butt was gone before #67 came around. I like what I’ve seen of Johnson in a lot of Iowa games, but I think the team needs a tight end more.

#111) Noah Brown, Ohio State

I wanted Amara Darboh simply because I think he’s a slightly more complete player, but this might be a case of the draft saving me from myself (in this cyber-draft, Darboh went to New England, instead). Brown is a physical player, and especially if the Bears lose Jeffery they are going to need a guy who can fight for the ball against aggressive defenders. Still, it seems amusing to me that even in electronic fantasies, somehow New England manages to work the rules to its advantage and get a guy like Darboh with a compensatory pick.

I almost went with: Nobody. I was pretty sure that the guy I wanted next would be there at 117, and I wasn’t nervous if I lost him.

#117) Carroll Phillips, Illinois

The talk is that Phillips will need to beef up in order to be a difference maker on pass-rush, but that he’s got the speed and agility necessary to be disruptive. What I’ve seen of him suggests that it’s optimistic to expect him to be more than depth early on. However, I think that building depth into the linebacker corps can be a good thing. More than that, if he can even develop into a rotational player, I think he tackles well enough to contribute.

I almost went with: Erik Magnuson. I kept trying to convince myself that he would get strong enough and that he’d be able to stay at tackle. However, the Bears don’t need a guard or a center, and I don’t think Magnuson has the power he needs on o-line.

#147) C.J. Beathard, Iowa

So, the Big Ten doesn’t actually have any starting-level quarterbacks coming out and the Bears need to draft one, even if they land Mike Glennon. I could not find it in myself to draft Beathard any higher, but I also couldn’t wait until the seventh round. I have watched a lot of Beathard play, and the best I can say is that he might have what it takes to be a quality backup in the NFL. I’m not selling this pick well, am I? He is the 11th-best QB in the draft per NFL.com, but that’s…okay, let me start over.

Beathard played in what was (more or less) a pro-style offense and he had decent footwork and he had a tendency to trust his line. He doesn’t have a cannon, and he doesn’t have gobs of athleticism. However, with the right circumstances around him he could surprise people.

I almost took: Umm…

#221) Jeremy Clark, Michigan

I like Clark’s length, and he has special teams potential. I’m a little concerned about his injury history, but I also think that if he recovers and is able to learn to use his length to his advantage, he could be a real steal.

I almost took: George Kittle. However, it turns out that he wasn’t an option on Fanspeak.

If you like the idea, let me know which conference you’d like to see highlighted next!