If I ran a poll today and allowed the fans to choose any player they would like the Bears to pick in the draft or the option to trade back and acquire more picks, I think the trade option would win in a landslide. Talk of the Bears trading back has been a hot topic for months. Everybody acknowledges how difficult that might be to pull off this year, but despite that, I decided to take a look at what might happen if Ryan Pace is able to gather more picks in this talent-laden draft. Without further ado, welcome to Draftwatch's Mock Draft - Trade Down Edition.
Here are the parameters I used to set up this mock draft:
I used Fanspeak On the Clock Premium to conduct a draft with the following settings:
- Length: 7 rounds
- Player Big Board: Matt Miller, Lead Draft Analyst, Bleacher Report
- Computer uses same board as me, or random: Random
- Difficulty (Classic or Difficult): Difficult
- Team needs determined by: User-generated list
I added the following rules to guide my choices:
- I considered all trades proposals, weighing them against the value of players left on the board
- I considered acquiring more choices to be a primary goal and balanced those acquisitions against the ability to fill team needs
- Pure player value was the tertiary consideration
If you don’t take the time to read how or why I set up this draft, please don’t expect me to respond to your comments about it.
The biggest increase in draft capital the Bears can possibly acquire would come from moving back in the 1st-round. The gravity of this choice is immense and governed by two major factors: 1.) Whether or not the Bears want one of top QB's? and 2.) Can they still land an immediate starter who will be an impact player? Chicago doesn't want to drop too far and miss out on the top tier of talent, but the father they move back the more draft capital they will gain overall. In a very deep draft that could go a very long way towards rebuilding the team. It's a lot like playing the highest stakes game of professional chicken there is.
Despite all the pressure, or maybe because of it, I gambled... big time. In a couple of ways. Those gambles made sure that this didn't turn out to be your typical mock draft. It features a name at the top you may not have considered, but it did accomplish many of the goals I laid out at the start. So let's break it down.
Moving back in the draft really fuels this edition; so the trades (and when they were made) are of paramount importance. I made 3 of them and had different motivations for each one so I'll break them down individually.
#1 - The Carolina Panthers wanted to move up and I wanted the extra choices. Their first pick was only 5 slots later than the bears original choice AND they had two 2nd-rounders as ammunition. It didn't take long to debate this one and I made the swap.
- ROUND: 1 PICK: 3
- ROUND: 1 PICK: 8
- ROUND: 2 PICK: 8
- ROUND: 2 PICK: 32
- ROUND: 3 PICK: 34
#2 - In the 3rd-round the Baltimore Ravens proposed a modest trade back and offered up a mid-round choice in the 5th as compensation. Knowing there would still be a quality player on the board at that time I took it. After a quick check of the board to make sure that dropping 7 spots wouldn't cost me a player I really didn't want to lose, I made the swap official.
- ROUND: 3 PICK: 3
- ROUND: 3 PICK: 10
- ROUND: 5 PICK: 15
#3 - In the 5th-round I went looking for a trade partner. I really wanted to reclaim the 6th-round pick the Bears are lacking this year. I found a willing partner in the Pittsburgh Steelers, but they drove a fairly hard bargain and I did end up losing out on a few players that I hoped would still be there. In the end, I sent a mid-5th and a high 7th-round pick in return for low picks in rounds 5, 6 & 7.
- ROUND: 5 PICK: 15
- ROUND: 7 PICK: 3
- ROUND: 5 PICK: 29
- ROUND: 6 PICK: 29
- ROUND: 7 PICK: 30
In the end, I ended up with 13 total picks, which in this draft is a king's ransom. But having picks and using them well is two different things. Let's take a look the players that became fictional, digital Bears in this effort.
8: R1P8 TE O.J. Howard, Alabama - Cue the gasps and the groans. After everyone is done throwing their pencils, hear me out. What do you want out of a top-10 draft pick? I want a player who is the best at his position in the draft and has impact ability at the next level. Check. I want a player who is clean medically and sparkling off the field as well. Check. A player who checks all the boxes in terms of physical size and athletic performance. Check. I want a player who can help my team in as many plays as possible, meaning he is versatile and doesn't need to come off the field. Check. Howard clears all those hurdles easily and would be a tremendous outlet for Mike Glennon next season as he and the rest of the offense learn to work together. I see the value and I know many others will not. As the saying goes: "You pays your money and you takes your chances". I'll take mine with Howard in this slot.
36: R2P4 QB Deshone Kizer, Notre Dame - This was the crux gamble of the whole draft for me. Would the Bears have a shot at one of the top QB's after neglecting the position (in terms of the draft) for so many years? The chips fell my way and Kizer was available. He has issues with consistency but he has shown all the skills you want a leading pro QB to have and done it inside an offense that makes relating those throws to the pro game fairly easy. With some time to even out the rough spots in his game he could eventually emerge as the top signal caller from this draft. Having Glennon entrenched as the starter, and being picked outside the 1st-round allow Kizer a little breathing room to develop into the QB he is capable of becoming.
40: R2P8 CB Tre'Davious White, LSU - Having an additional 2nd-round choice high in the round allows me to address a huge position of need before the premium draft supply dries up. Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore, Quincy Wilson, Marlon Humphrey, Sidney Jones and Kevin King were all off the board already. Grabbing a polished senior corner from the SEC with excellent return skills fills a major need before I was left grasping at straws.
64: R2P32 S Marcus Williams, Utah - Here's where the impact of trading down really starts to produce value. Before Chicago even leaves the 2nd-round they have added one of the top players in the draft (Howard), answered the question of who is in line to take over the QB duties down the road (Kizer), and added two very skilled defenders to shore up one of their largest team needs; the secondary (White and Williams). Marcus's abilities as a rangy centerfield safety are a great complement to the recently-acquired Quintin Demps. The entire secondary starts off the 2017 season in much stronger stance than it did last year.
74: R3P10 EDGE Tyus Bowser, Houston - The Bears need additional threats off the edge and Bowser is a wrecking machine. He's got the strength to completely jack up running backs who try to get in his way and he's got wheels to cover the deep seam 20 yards downfield. Do not be at all surprised if he goes much higher than this in the actual draft.
98: R3P34 RB Marlon Mack, South Florida - If you have been listening to me at all this draft season you know I am a fan of Mr. Mack's work. Beyond that, he would offer the Bears a very nice change of pace from Jordan Howard's punishing style. Mack can break a tackle or two but his real superpower is the ability to snap through a small crease and turn on the jets for long TD. That kind of quick-strike ability would make defenses adjust to respect the run in an entirely different way.
111: R4P4 EDGE Joe Mathis, Washington - This is a pure value pick. Mathis is not getting anywhere near the respect he deserves. He did deal with an injury this season but when he was on the field he changed games. He is a forceful rusher with some of the heaviest hands in the entire draft. Watching him jolt much larger offensive tackles with his powerful punch never gets old. Joe's plenty mobile and hostile after he's cleared a path to the QB as well.
117: R4P10 WR Ryan Switzer, North Carolina - I debated this choice more than any other. The Bears don't have a true need for a slot receiver with several possible candidates already on the roster (Royal, Wright and Wheaton all do their best work from the slot). In the end, I just couldn't leave him on the board because he is such a good football player. If you have watched tape of Mitch Trubisky you have definitely seen Switzer's work. He combines razor-sharp cuts, above-average quickness and an excellent set of hands to get open easily and pull in piles of receptions. Ryan already knows how to defeat the jam so I believe he will be productive very quickly in the pros and continue that success for a long time.
147: R5P3 CB Shaquill Griffin, Central Florida - You may not have heard Griffin's name but that doesn't mean he can't play. He's got good size (6', 194 pounds), runs a 4.38 40-yard dash and topped 38" in the vertical jump. On tape all that athleticism is on display and he mirrors very well down the field. He's had 34 passes defended over the last 2 seasons and picked off 6 of those balls. Shaquill is getting a little lost in this deep class of corners but don't sleep on his talent.
173: R5P29 WR Ardarius Stewart, Alabama - Stewart was the reason I was OK dropping back in the 5th-round. I wasn't assured of getting him but there was a good chance and I took it. Ardarius saw playing time as an RB and WR in Tuscaloosa but with all of Alabama's talent, he was never featured in either spot. He's an incredible athlete who is violent and explosive with the ball in his hands. I think he hasn't even scratched the surface of what he can really do was an offensive weapon.
213: R6P29 OT Avery Gennesy, Texas A&M - Trading back into the 6th-round allows me to take shot on a developmental tackle prospect with plenty of upside. He has amazingly quick feet for a guy his size (318 pounds) and could develop as a backup swing tackle if given a little time to round the rough edges off his technique.
248: R7P30 TE Cole Hikutini, Louisville - I have no idea why Cole plummeted in Miller's latest big board, but he did. I'll happily pick up this very effective TE with good hands and solid movement skills. His game against Clemson this year displayed why he can be so valuable to an offense. Hikutini bailed his team out over and over again with big catches when their offense was being all but shut down. I'll take that kind of grit and skill in a late rounder any day.
After all the smoke cleared Chicago ended up with a major haul that addressed several of the pressing and future needs. You can see how the entire draft unfolded here.
Where do you think the Bears gained the most in this scenario and who did they miss out on?