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Zeglinski 2017 Bears Mock Draft 2.0: Chicago slots down for value

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The Bears execute a trade of their first pick to fill out a growing, talented core.

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Michigan v Ohio State
Malik Hooker is at the top of the Bears board after a trade in the top five.
Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Make no mistake. It’s painstaking to make a trade of a top five pick in the NFL Draft, let alone come to an agreement on any huge selection.

If you’re the team holding a coveted pick in a slot another organization is trying to move into, such as the Chicago Bears might be at third overall, you have to convince your counterpart that the value of giving up a huge haul of selections is worth getting one impact player they covet. The kinds of blockbuster deals seen in trading up to number one or number two overall, such as the famed Jared Goff, Carson Wentz, and Robert Griffin III trades, are not commonplace for this reason.

But if you’re the Bears, who have a common variety of needs at many positions such as quarterback, safety, tight end, and more; a way of trading down without losing too much value from your first pick isn’t the worst idea. There’s no quick fix, but relatively moving down to acquire another core piece is how you build a winner faster. In fact, while it probably nets the franchise a smaller pull, sitting at third overall might be more beneficial for Chicago’s team building as the pick has a significantly lesser trade value than the top two.

Common sense dictates that it’s easier for someone else who likes a player to move up to third while the Bears at least get another pick in a deep class within the top 40. This mock accounts for exactly that as Chicago adds another franchise building block after a major shake-up with the New York Jets.

There’s been a recent underlying notion from some that the Jets really like North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky. So much so, that they fear a team in the top three such as the Bears, 49ers, and yes even the Myles Garrett-honed-in Cleveland Browns, will take away their “dream fit.” Some recent mocks have even been noting a move up from New York’s number six position to go and get Trubisky.

Naturally, in this event, the Bears accommodate the Jets and let them slide into third overall while Chicago nets New York’s pick at sixth overall and second round pick at number 39. While it sometimes never works out this way in real life, Walter Football’s trade value would have that deal as an almost perfect fit in value with the Jets coming out as slight “losers” by an extremely minute ten points.

New York gets it’s wish at an attempt for a franchise passer, while the Bears get another opportunity to fill another need with a potential star.

My first mock had Chicago loading up on depth in the secondary, while this time the team loads up on playmakers at the top.

With that in mind, let’s get to it.

1st round (from Jets), No. 6 overall: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State

NCAA Football: Fiesta Bowl-Ohio State vs Clemson
Hooker would give the Bears a ballhawk dimension on the back-end they haven’t had in a long time.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The only detractor to selecting Hooker with a top six selection is his health in recovery from a torn labrum, while also only being a major starter for one season. But if you look past those knocks, while also noting big-time edge rushers such as Solomon Thomas will likely already be off the board, there’s no way you can pass on the game-changing always-around-the-ball ability of a safety such as Hooker. Some believe he also might not be on the board past second overall given his special talents, but that’s besides the point.

In his one starting season at Ohio State, Hooker had 74 tackles and seven interceptions. That’s pretty staggering to take away the ball that many times as a safety. His instincts to read the quarterback’s eyes and play well in coverage are unmatched in this draft, mostly because it’s a trait only a few safeties have. Though, in the modern pass-happy NFL, it’s also the most valuable versus a pure in-the-box tackling type.

I know LSU’s Jamal Adams recently quelled speed concerns, but I just appreciate what Hooker offers as a professional, more (Adams is also probably gone by this point).

Now, Hooker will still have to technically “learn” the position as he’s very raw, while working on aspects like tackling technique. But there’s no reason to believe he can’t be one of the true special safeties in the NFL in a year or two. You can afford to wait for his development as you likely won’t be wholly competitive until at least 2018 if you’re the Bears. Play him next to a veteran such as new acquisition, Quintin Demps, and let him learn on the fly to pay dividends.

In the end, Hooker’s range, fluidity, and natural awareness of almost perfect positioning in coverage make him an excellent fit for Chicago.

2nd round, No. 36 overall: DeShone Kizer, QB, Notre Dame

NCAA Football: Stanford at Notre Dame
Kizer can be the “man” down the line for Chicago.
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

There are a lot of current differing opinions on where Kizer slots into this draft. Some still have him in the top 15. Some believe he falls to the late first and early second round.

In this ideal, Kizer’s waiting for Chicago at 36 and there’s no way they would pass up the 21-year-old if he’s sitting there at that juncture. They’ve already privately met with the young gun, so they know what to expect as well. After two of years of ignoring every available quarterback prospect, the Bears get a lucky break with a developmental franchise passer in the wings such as him.

The best qualifier for the current kind of player Kizer is, is that he does nine out of ten things well. For example: He can make every throw with a huge arm. He has exceptional pocket awareness and ability to make defenders miss while making his offensive line look better. He has an excellent NFL frame at 6-foot-4, 233 pounds, to help withstand punishment. His throw delivery is sound and quick. And he’s an excellent runner when necessitated with 997 rushing yards in two years at Notre Dame.

What he needs to work on and what will likely kept him out of the top five and or first round, is his accuracy and inconsistent footwork. Not to say that this descriptor and struggle for a young quarterback is uncommon, nor that it’s difficult to fix, because it isn’t. But if Kizer had this trait, there would be no debate of his merits as a bona fide future star quarterback.

Good thing for the Bears in that light, because they can afford to polish up this aspect of Kizer’s game and get him acclimated to the NFL while starting Mike Glennon for a season. And once he’s ready to take his mantle whenever (or when Chicago feels he is), you have a possible superstar quarterback under center.

2nd round, No. 39 overall (from Jets): Evan Engram, TE, Ole Miss

NCAA Football: Memphis at Mississippi
Engram would become a dynamic weapon in any NFL offense.
Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

When you execute draft trades like the Bears do with the Jets in this mock, it’s in the regard of acquiring a true playmaker such as Engram. With this tight end, you have a dynamic weapon in the mold of Washington’s Jordan Reed - his professional comparison - for years that you can comfortably rely on.

Much like with Kizer, Chicago will know full well what they’re getting into with the 22-year-old Engram after a private visit, and there’s not much doubt they didn’t like what they see. It’s just about whether they’ll have enough picks to acquire him, or if he makes it out of the first. In this alternate universe, the Bears do have the pick and he is available, and in turn it works wonders for their offense.

Engram averaged 684 yards receiving yards, 47 receptions, and four touchdowns per in three years as a starter at Ole Miss. His senior year was the most eye-opening as he tore apart SEC defenses with 65 receptions, 926 receiving yards, and eight touchdowns as a prolific red zone and downfield target. Given his relative lack of size for the position at 6-foot-3 and 234 pounds at the moment, he fits the perfect profile of a guy like Reed (used primarily as a receiver), that the Bears could compensate with other more capable blockers such as new acquisition Dion Sims.

In my mind, the days of the traditional blocking tight end are in many ways, well, dead. That said, if you have a guy that’s more of an “H-back” such as Engram, he better be a prolific and athletic receiver, which he is. A 4.42 40-yard dash reflects a guy who dominates down the seam and who has the ability to make the play on most any ball with a tremendous catch radius.

For a player with Engram’s talents, you find a way to make up for traditional deficiencies to apply him well in the modern era. If you successfully do so, there won’t be many defenses who will have an answer for a Bears weapon at tight end like him.

3rd round, No. 67 overall: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Colorado vs Washington
Awuzie is an excellent sleeper in a deep corner class for the Bears to take a shot on.
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 cornerback class knows no bounds of depth or ability. You could arguably find a contributor in every round. By going Awuzie here in the third, the Bears get themselves a quality, immediate impact, boundary player with potential for more.

Awuzie gets comparisons to ironically, Prince Amukamara, because of inconsistencies in physical play and coverage. Much like Amukamara, he also is a bit loose with tackling, as big power backs or tight ends will tend to motor through him.

But what he makes up with sometimes up-and-down play in run support is mostly plus coverage instincts, smooth movements, and the ability to move him all over the field at each corner position. He’s far from a polished prospect such as Ohio State’s Marshon Lattimore, but his versatile skill set fits perfectly as a could-be underrated rock in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s defense.

4th round, No. 108 overall: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC

NCAA Football: Rose Bowl Game-Penn State vs Southern California
Smith-Schuster is big and plays big.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

There is a possibility that Smith-Schuster doesn’t even make it this far. Scouts are torn on where exactly he slots in an overall merely “good” receiving class. He’s not a natural separator and relies a lot on his only 6-foot-1 frame to outmuscle against defensive backs, after all.

But, Smith-Schuster is a competitor with a rugged field awareness who can run the full route tree and who shows understanding of coverages defenses employ to slow him down. He possesses excellent hands and is an utter tank to bring down after the catch in the open field. The production was outstanding as well in college at USC with 3,092 receiving yards, 213 receptions, and 25 touchdowns in three seasons - including 10 each in both his sophomore and junior seasons.

He reminds me a lot of Alshon Jeffery, albeit smaller while being a more explosive weapon with the ball in his hands. He’s not a burner and he’s likely never a guy who will be a completely polished route runner with the work ethic to refine that trait, but if you go in Smith-Schuster’s direction, you’ll more than likely reap tremendous benefits with his body control and grace. A nice weapon for Bears passers to rely on.

Fourth round, No. 117 overall (from Buffalo): DeMarcus Walker, Edge, Florida State

NCAA Football: Mississippi at Florida State
Walker is a quality rotational addition to the Bears’ front seven.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The four-year contributor and three-year starter in Walker at Florida State did nothing but dominate in his latter two seasons at school.

After starting slow as an underclassman, Walker had 25 sacks in his last two years, including 16 as a senior First-Team All-American. In this time frame, all he did was fill up the statistical sheet with 123 tackles and 33.5 tackles for loss to boot.

There are limits to Walker’s game as a full-time contributor as he isn’t a freak of nature in speed or size, and you can also wear him down easily over time. In the right scheme and defensive fit though, the 6-foot-4, 280 pounder won’t have any issues.

In Walker, I’m not sure if the Bears would necessarily get a star. Actually, I’m pretty confident they wouldn’t. But, they would get an experienced and durable player with a variety of pass rush moves, who can fill in immediately into their primary rotation either as a balanced true defensive end, or on the interior as a five-tech. All of this while filling a huge gap on the defense.

Fifth round, No. 147 overall: Daeshon Hall, Edge, Texas A&M

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Texas A&M
Hall is a raw player with a lot to learn that would prove a worthy investment for Chicago.
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Playing on the same defensive front as the consensus number one overall pick in Garrett will tend to get a guy overshadowed. Also being a raw player in general at a position where you’re still molding such as Hall, will do that, too.

Nevertheless, Hall is a versatile athlete who played everywhere on Texas A&M’s front on the outside and interior. His athletic ability isn’t a marvel, but he does have good quickness in gaps and has flexible, smooth movements. His motor also paints the picture of that of a a hustle player always in on most defensive plays, even from the other side of the field.

There are questions as to whether he’ll ever have enough size to play in the NFL, while maintaining some of his speed. Yet, seeing as how malleable the 21-year-old still is, a defensive coach such as Fangio would love him playing around and experimenting with unlocking Hall’s potential. Attempting to add more depth and talent on the defensive front is never a bad idea.

Seventh round, No. 221 overall: Conor McDermott, OT, UCLA

NCAA Football: UCLA at Arizona State
McDermott needs a lot of work to become a contributor.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Even a few months ago, the 24-year-old McDermott had talk of being a Day One or Day Two pick. But after a shaky final season at UCLA and a less-than-adequate Senior Bowl performance, he’s plummeted down draft boards. Now who knows where ultimately goes.

The crux of the issue surrounding McDermott is that he can be bullied by strength while having his feet consistently tangled up against pass rushers. He can be over-eager and really stiff in reactions and movements, and his hands are way too inconsistent to work with whomever he’s blocking.

What there is to like about McDermott is that there’s some athleticism to work with and that he can still execute most blocks. Considering age, I’m not sure how much stronger or more refined he can become (as he needs to) to eventually start on an offensive line. However if you’re the Bears at this juncture, I think you take a flier and try and salvage what you can with a considerable project.

Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.