The time of the year where you still may hold belief that a squad such as the Bears could be competitive in the upcoming season. It might be delusional. It might be realistic. It depends on whom you talk to. Nevertheless, it’s what drives draft analysis as many dream about superstars changing an organization’s fortune. Football season never sleeps in that respect.
What respective mocks boil down to, is two different classifications for fans and analysts to peruse over. There are those mocks that purely go over need and fit, personal evaluation, and off of other projections of where a player will slide in. More often than not, these are personal opinions without any in-the-know basis of what a franchise is actually thinking. These kinds of platforms are about setting the stage, figuring a team’s best needs as best as possible, while including scouting effort.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller, a professional scout with a considerably large national platform, does do these kinds of need mocks with his own reports from time to time. Nothing but what he’s seen on film is factored in. But mostly, given connections, he does mocks where he only slightly focuses on his judgments as to how they align with what his sources he possesses in the NFL are telling him. These mocks are based off of what he’s been hearing as to where players will slide in, when created.
It’s an easier more accurate version of football’s “bracketology” or “RPI”, as the top picks are your “top seeds.” Not always a fool proof method given the unpredictability of front offices and executives, and the occasional smoke screen, but a somewhat accurate ideal.
However, one of those rare occasions where Miller instead inserted his bias into the equation came along last week in regards to the Bears. The writer does a regular scouting notebook on recent rumors he’s been hearing following the Combine, Pro Day’s, and aspects such as rising sleepers to keep an eye out for. Sometimes, a specific note will focus on one team in the draft.
Just the Bears’ luck, in last week’s notebook, Miller included a full mock that he thinks will “fix them” using Fanspeak.com. Note: These picks of his were based purely off of his own personal opinion and nothing else.
First round: Jamal Adams, S, LSU
Quick thought: Miller leads the entire piece by arguing Adams isn’t a box safety as opposed to what he’s been hearing from league circles.
In work with other film as a versatile athlete, Adams’ LSU Pro Day 40-time last week - where he ran an unofficial 4.33 - helps quell those concerns to the analyst as it shows he has necessary speed and range. There is the argument of positional value at the third pick, but to Miller, that doesn’t matter with a player such as Adams. Also: While he’s certainly not the first to have this thought, his professional comparison for Adams is Kansas City Chiefs superstar, Eric Berry - who was selected at fifth overall in the 2010 NFL Draft.
If you’re general manager Ryan Pace, perhaps all other noteworthy options and traditions to consider with your first round pick, go out the window if you can nab a secondary playmaker in the mold of Berry.
Second round: Kevin King, CB, Washington
Quick thought: With his teammate Sidney Jones tearing his Achilles at Washington’s Pro Day a few weeks back, King is seen as a riser to take Jones’ place in the late first-round, according to Miller.
I’d note, that I’ve personally been in love with the length and athleticism King could offer the Bears and think he would be the perfect boundary cornerback to add to the current very crowded Chicago cornerback room. He’s the kind of athlete with size that it seems Pace prefers in his secondary players even if there’s a lot to refine technique-wise.
If you lock in Bryce Callahan, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Marcus Cooper, and Prince Amukamara into four slots, you only have two left on the roster, as it’s rare for teams to carry more than six.
One of those holes will be filled by a veteran in competition such as the recently signed, B.W. Webb. While, in my mind, the other is ripe for a young developmental cornerback with plenty of upside such as King. A shutdown corner in many’s opinion.
Third round: Brad Kaaya, QB, Miami
Quick thought: You didn’t really think Miller would go an entire draft without picking a potential franchise quarterback of the future for the Bears, did you? At some point you have to address the position.
There are many who are sour on Kaaya’s mechanics and think that he’s on a lengthy developmental track. For example, he sometimes struggles with anticipation throws and isn’t the most mobile of passers.
Yet, with a year or two of seasoning behind Mike Glennon, Kaaya could become just the prototypical franchise leader you want. Either way, an excellent value in the mid-rounds found here.
Fourth round: Jordan Leggett, TE, Clemson
Quick thought: Easily my favorite pick of Miller’s mock, given draft positioning and Leggett’s upside, as well as experience.
The 6-foot-5, 258 pounder, is a dynamic weapon in the passing game that would present a fantastic target for any Bears quarterback. As he is a mid-round pick and as this is an unusually terrific tight end class, there are glaring issues for Leggett to work on such as blocking and more polished routes.
Considering his natural explosiveness and instinct, Leggett can eventually be the “man” at tight end for the Bears and usurp Zach Miller, Dion Sims, whomever else.
Fourth round: Chad Hansen, WR, California
Quick thought: Hansen is one of the more underrated receivers in this draft, so it isn’t a surprise to see Miller bank on his ability at this point.
While he will have to learn the full NFL route tree as California didn’t run a pro offense, the evidence that Hansen can produce is there after 92 receptions, 1,249 yards, and 11 touchdowns last season. There’s tangible belief that you can develop him into some kind of role for your team. And I wouldn’t mind him attempting to find a niche with a less-than-settled receiving core like the Bears have.
With a willingness to block, strong hands, and solid enough route running on what he was asked of, whose to say Hansen can’t become a bottom of the depth chart contributor, or more, for the Bears?
Fifth round: Alex Anzalone, LB, Florida
Quick thought: More late round value and upside added in this respect for Miller. The Bears’ linebacking corps is possibly in flux given the status of a recovering, injured, Danny Trevathan, and a potentially less-than-able, Pernell McPhee.
With that in mind, while it isn’t a primary need such as quarterback or safety, it wouldn’t hurt the Bears to attempt to add some depth to the position such as Anzalone. He’s scheme versatile and is the kind of linebacker you seamlessly fit into the modern game because he’s fluid in coverage.
Concerns really focus on a lot of injuries throughout Anzalone’s college career (no concrete number), as that’s limited his production and what’s dropped him to a likely Day 3 selection. It would also obviously help if he added to his just 241 pound frame, a similar problem that fourth-round pick, Nick Kwiatkoski, had last year even while flashing at times. That’s a bit too small to play linebacker for my tastes.
If you’re confident that he can translate whatever’s left that’s still malleable, you’re getting quite the player. A reach and a risk on Anzalone, that Pace could gamble on in Miller’s eyes.
Seventh round: Aviante Collins, OT, TCU
Quick thought: At this point in the draft, as most know and as I figure Miller was doing, it’s just about throwing darts at the board to players that may eventually stick.
Collins in that respect, could be a quality contributor, but needs to get bigger, might be a “tweener” guard or tackle with short arms, and has a lot of technique issues. Though, if you want to take on a project and mold him given some positive traits he possesses such as the ability to make most any block in the run game, he’s worth a flier long-term.
All in all, in my mind, if the Bears went with a draft such as Miller’s to indeed “fix” themselves, I think most would ultimately appreciate the value and potential franchise-changing ability found throughout.
In the end, it’s always good practice to juxtapose “rumor mill” mocks and personal evaluations, so you can better understand where a team such as Chicago stands. For now, it’s too difficult to tell how the final lottery spin ultimately goes for the Bears.
Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron and Second City Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.