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2017 Bears Mock Draft: Community Choice Edition

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NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

This is an interesting mock, as it comes completely from the members of the community. To review—during this draft, I was not allowed trades and I had to draft the assigned position for each round. For example, because the community voted safety as the most-needed position, I had no choice but to take a safety in the first round.

One side effect of this scenario is that concerns about value are gone. Instead, each selection simply becomes a match-up of the best players left on the board at a given position. Because of this, I ran several “fake” mocks through Fanspeak before committing to a particular draft. The reasoning is simple—I wanted to know who, reasonably, would be available for the Bears at that position. I have seen simulations that have players slipping way below their typical draft value, and that’s a fine game to play, but this exercise is designed to highlight players who might reasonably be expected to be available when the Bears make their selections. You can see the whole draft here.

#3) Jamal Adams, LSU (Safety-260 votes)

The Contenders: there are only two safeties in consideration here. In the B1G 10 draft, I picked Hooker at #3. In the SEC draft, I picked Adams at #3. I obviously like both players (I think each is a potential Top 10 prospect). Our own EJ Snyder has already given you his opinion here, and EJ obviously knows his stuff.

Briefly, Malik Hooker is a ball hawk with amazing speed and the potential to create turnovers. He has a high ceiling, and if he did not have an injury history, it would be tough to even make an argument for his rival (tough, but not impossible). That injury history has also limited his experience, but there is every sign he will be able to develop into a fantastic player.

Jamal Adams, on the other hand, does not have the record when it comes to turnovers. He does have the ability to close off a section of the field, and he is a player who can transform a secondary. There are also his intangibles at leadership.

The Decision: I could dig into their play, but at this point much of it would be old ground. I am instead going to give a number: 48/96

The last three first-round picks for the Chicago Bears have missed 48 of their available games. In other words, Chicago has spent the last three seasons only enjoying the services of the top draft picks for half of the time that they should have been on the field. There’s no ability like availability, and Chicago’s top picks haven’t been available.

First-Round Picks

Player Games Played Games Possible
Player Games Played Games Possible
Kyle Fuller 32 48
Kevin White 4 32
Leonard Floyd 12 16
Total 48 96
The Bears have missed half of the possible games from their last three top picks.

The Bears need their players to play, and “injury history” and “potential to grow” don’t make me feel any better about Hooker. I’ll take Adams without hesitation.

#36) Deshone Kizer, Notre Dame (Quarterback-188 votes)

The Contenders: there were two quarterbacks here who seemed like they might be worth it, and one who I ended up selecting. This particular pick was interesting because unlike the others, I don’t see the selection starting in 2017, and that changes the dynamic a bit.

Nathan Peterman is, in my thinking, a solid candidate at quarterback. He’s reasonably accurate and he shows pretty good judgment. He can put a ball where the receiver has options. He’s not an athletic marvel, but that’s less important at quarterback. When I began this exercise, I was actually hoping that Peterman would be around for #36, and he is still the type of quarterback I hope the Bears land after drafting a defensive difference-maker in the first. It was tough to pass on him.

Davis Webb is being overrated. I do not see him as worthy of first-round talk, and I actually see him as more of a third-round pick even if he probably will go higher than that. I don’t trust his decision-making, I don’t trust his ability to adjust to the pro game, and I do trust what I see when I watch his game play in two different offenses. This is an easy pass.

DeShone Kizer was available in the majority of my “get the feel of the board” run-throughs, so I felt I had to honor his availability as real (or, at least, as “real” in a fantasy-draft sense). He has flaws in his game, and he gets stuck on reads to the point that it’s obvious. He relies on his size, mobility, and strength to an unfortunate degree. He has struggled with decision making. However, it terms of total athletic ability, he is above what the other remaining candidates bring to the table.

The Decision: If the Bears are to make the most of the Mike Glennon experiment, it will be by maximizing the talent they develop behind the former Tampa Bay starter. That means that while I think Peterman is the better player in November 2017, I think by August 2018 it might be Kizer, and I have to go with that greater potential.

#67) Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado (CB-72 votes)

The Contenders: I normally would not expect to have a hard decision at cornerback in the third round. You take the player who seems workable and hope for the best. However, this draft is deep enough in defensive backs that there were three players I really liked left on the board.

I think Rasul Douglas has everything Ryan Pace would be looking for in a cornerback. He’s big and his 2016 campaign was filled with interceptions. He goes after the ball and stays after it. Ultimately, if Douglas can translate his game to the pros, he will be a bargain for any team that drafts him after the first two rounds.

Sidney Jones would not be sitting around at #67 if he hadn’t torn his Achilles at his pro day. He just has too much upside. However, he did have that injury. Worse, he had that injury while already being a little too small for the position. I can see an argument for taking Jones while the roster is stocked with retread defensive backs, hoping he will add muscle and come back with the same speed and instincts he showed in college. However, there’s a lot that has to go right for that scenario to work out.

Ahkello Witherspoon is long (6’3”) and fast. He consistently makes plays on the ball, and I watched him provide just enough competition for the ball that he deflected it wide or low several times. He is not always as aggressive at tackling as he could be, but overall he has a high floor.

The Decision: This ultimately came down to Douglas versus Witherspoon, and even on my overall board of Top 100 candidates, they are only separated by four names. I went with Witherspoon largely because I am more confident that what I saw him doing in games will carry over to what he’s going to need to be able to do in the pros.

#111 Jaleel Jones, Iowa (DL-70 votes)

The Contenders: This one got hard. Most of the quality defensive line prospects were gone around about the time I was deciding between Douglas and Witherspoon, so each of the candidates had a flaw.

Jaleel Johnson has good feet and he doesn’t lack effort. He has started getting some attention recently, but as someone who watched almost every college game he was in, I feel that’s a little overdue. I’m not sure how well his combination of talent and background will translate to Fangio’s defense, but as far as an overall player goes, he stands out.

Tanzel Smart also has a great motor. He’s also on the small side. If he were a little bigger, or a little stronger, or a little faster, he wouldn’t be available in the fourth round. As it is, there’s no sign he brings anything to the table that the other contenders don’t also offer.

Nazair Jones is as long as someone might like (6’5”, nearly 35” arms), but he doesn’t have the speed or the instincts to use his length very well. Still, he’s strong and he doesn’t get locked in on one guy—he finds a way to make it back to the play if it’s within his athletic ability.

The Decision: Ultimately, this came down to who I believe has the best chance to provide rotational depth on the line. That’s not Smart, so it has to be Jones or Johnson. Johnson seems to have a bit more athleticism, and at least in the games I was able to watch, Jones did not display the same instinct for how a play was going to unfold.

#117 Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech (WR-19 votes)

The Contenders: I have already written about Isaiah Ford here, and I don’t feel I have much to add besides saying that I think that Isaiah Ford has the sort of promise that shows how many good receivers can be found in later rounds.

Chad Hansen hasn’t gotten a lot of attention that I can find, and that’s a shame. He’s a big receiver, and he can fight for the ball. He isn’t afraid to use his body, and I watched him make a couple of decent blocks that exceeded my expectations. His real limitation is his speed, because one of the reasons I got to see him fight for those balls was that he never really got away from defenders.

The Decision: This was a case of the big-bodied 50/50 receiver and the smaller, faster player. Chicago probably needs both, and neither Hansen nor Ford is going to turn into a true #1. However, I am more confident in Cameron Meredith than I am in some of the “darts” on the roster, so I see Ford as a nice addition to the corps to balance out the strengths of the team.

#147) Aviante Collins, TCU (OL-13 votes)

The Contenders: In the Big-12 draft, I almost used the #147 pick on Aviante Collins. In the PAC-12 draft, I did use the #117 pick on San Tevi. Given that both were staring at me when I had the need to pick an o-line player, I struggled with this decision.

Collins is possible moving to guard in the pros, but he is a really tough player. He has tackle experience, and he’s a natural athlete who possesses the potential to get stronger and thereby fix one of his problems.

Sam Tevi has been identified early on as a natural “swing” tackle, and at 6’5” and with good feet, he could be an asset to nearly any team that took him.

The Decision: Of all the picks in this mock, this is the one I am least sure of. I think the Bears of 2017 could use Tevi just a hair more than Collins. However, I think the Bears of 2018-forward would ultimately get more value out of Collins. More importantly, enough experts have voiced concerns about the consistency of Tevi’s play that I will go with the slightly more reliable player.

#221) JoJo Mathis, Washington (OLB-11 votes)

The Contenders: To be honest, there are not a lot of quality edge-rushers hanging around in Round 7. However, there were two that were worth taking a closer look at.

JoJo Mathis is criticized for being limited to serving as just a 3-4 outside linebacker, and he’s even more criticized for lacking the athleticism needed in a pass rusher. Instead, he’s seen as the kind of player who would really only be of value against the run, or in situational play.

Noble Nwachukwu is the mirror of Mathis. The man from West Virginia is all athleticism without much polish. I read one profile that argued for him as an eventual starter, but I don’t see it. Instead, I see him as the kind of player who lacks the refinement and the preparation for the NFL while also missing the “wow” talent that would get him by while those things develop.

The Decision: I can see Mathis earning reps on special teams or in goal-line situations with his discipline, whereas I can see Nwachukwu struggling to adapt when he’s surrounded by athletes whose talent matches or exceeds his own. As a result, I went with Mathis.