In exactly two weeks from today, the National Football League will be holding their 83rd annual draft in Arlington, Texas. And, in exactly one week from today, we will finally see Ryan Pace’s true intentions as well as plans put to action. Like several authors on our site, I am going to do a full mock on all seven — yes, they have seven — picks for the Chicago Bears.
I’m not one who usually does mocks with trades, as it’s almost impossible to predict the likely dozens of trades set to take place. Ryan Pace has made at least one trade in each of his three previous drafts, though, so expect more of the same this year. A trade is even more likely if there’s suddenly a rush on QBs in the top ten of this year’s draft order.
Instead, I’m simply going off my personal notes and observations, so my grades and picks might not match what the casual google search will suggest. More or less, this is my “dream” scenario, a perfect draft if one might suggest. One that has the Bears attacking their remaining needs while adding value and depth to their roster.
As the disclaimers are now out of the way, it’s time to begin.
Roger Goodell walks onto the stage, with a loud chorus of boos raining down from the Dallas Cowboys’ seating sections
“With the eighth overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears select”
1st round (8th overall): Quenton Nelson, Offensive Guard, Notre Dame - I have the Bears going offense early, and selecting the best offensive lineman to be had in this year’s draft class. Eighth overall is certainly not too rich for an elite prospect like Nelson. He would not only be a perfect fit at their vacant left guard position for their new offense, but he is arguably the best interior lineman prospect in any draft for the past 20 years. There’s hardly any flaws with his game; his ability to anchor and punch out on his blocks is simply fantastic. His size (6’5”, 325+ lbs) and nastiness will set a serious tone in the running game. It also helps to have his former position coach in Harry Heistand being on the Bears’ re-organized staff. This pick goes with Ryan Pace’s proven preference of building the O-Line from the inside-out. Pairing him with Kyle Long, and centering those players with Cody Whitehair, should provide for a strong interior built to protect Mitchell Trubisky for the long-term.
2nd round (39th overall): Courtland Sutton, wide receiver, SMU - The Bears’ front office has been hard at work scouting receiver prospects, even before they elected to decline matching Cameron Meredith’s offer sheet. Unlike a certain somebody — cough cough Patti — I feel Sutton is an underrated prospect to consider. His route running, like most receivers in this year’s class, needs some refinement. His ability to physically separate himself from coverage, and make contested catches, is what sets himself apart from most of the other prospects. Factor that in with his outstanding production the past two seasons, and his attitude to continuously refine his craft, is what makes him a great talent to add within their re-tooled receiving corps. His overall build and playing style would compliment Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel quite nicely. Oh, and he’s already reportedly met with the Bears on two different occasions. Once in the combine, and just recently for a private workout.
4th Round (105th overall): Arden Key, EDGE, LSU - Here’s a player that I feel will fall even further than what he’s currently projected in most mock drafts. Just over a year ago, he was hyped as a potential first round pick following a monstrous season in 2016. His stats that year: 56 total tackles, 12 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and 14.5 tackles for loss. In 2017, his stock took a serious dive. A combination of off-field issues, shoulder surgery, and a comparative lack of production has him falling to the Bears in a relatively comfortable position. Make no mistake, the talent is real for him. His physicality and ability to set the edge through sheer force, will be a good skillset to pair with Leonard Floyd at outside linebacker.
4th Round (115th overall): Kameron Kelly, Defensive Back, San Diego State - As we go later in the draft, it becomes more about finding value than pigeon-holing for needs. However, Kelly is a well rounded player that fills a need in gaining depth at DB, and is a solid value in day three of this mock. He has experience at both safety and corner, with the size to match. He fits the bill for being a larger, lengthy corner we’ve been accustomed to seeing in Vic Fangio’s overall philosophies. It’s been mentioned that his tackling needs work, yet I personally don’t see too much to be concerned with. He does need to learn how to play on the top of routes, and not be as grabby. His speed, or lack thereof, will likely be the biggest downside. I feel his opportunistic tendencies and willingness to go the extra yard for big plays will aid in his development.
5th Round (145th overall): Shaquem Griffen, Linebacker, Central Florida - If there’s any player that I’m higher on than anyone else in this class, Griffen is that guy. He legitimately has a day two grade from me, with day one statistics to back that up. Teams are going to knock him down their boards strictly due to his physical limitations. Which, if you ask me, is quite disappointing. What’s more, is I won’t be surprised to see his name called in day two of the draft. With that said, I have him drafted in the fifth round due to all the predictable tendencies of NFL teams. His overall size does not project well as a pure inside or outside linebacker, standing in at 6’1” and 227 pounds. Yet he ran a blazing 4.38 at this year’s combine, and put up 20 reps on the bench press with a prosthetic hand. His production is the most impressive, as he registered 166 total tackles; 33.5 tackles for loss; 18.5 sacks; 2 interceptions; 10 pass breakups; and 3 forced fumbles in his two years as a full-time starter. I dare say he tackles better with his one hand, than most players with two hands. I see him as a prototypical “nickel” linebacker, using his combination of instincts and athleticism in coverage, while chipping in with run support. If he falls this far on draft day, he is an absolute “must have” gem on day three.
6th round (181st overall): P.J. Hall, Defensive Lineman, Sam Houston State - Want to hear some more crazy statistics? Well here’s one for you: 14 blocked kicks. You heard that right; Hall successfully blocked 14 kicks in his collegiate career. Here’s another one for you: he’s able to squat over 700 pounds! Before you all ask me if he jumped out of a pool; no, there is currently no known footage of him jumping out of a pool. But, I wouldn’t be surprised if such a video existed, he’s an athletic freak of nature. His lack of overall size will be scrutinized heavily, as he struggled when he tried to carry more weight. His motor was also inconsistent at times, although his get off and instincts help to compensate for that. I do feel he’s worth a flyer as a defensive end in a base 3-4 alignment, and will certainly be a big addition to kick blocking units on special teams. If he can develop more of his hand fighting techniques, in swatting away punches from bigger lineman instead of straight bull-rushing them, he could become a steal.
7th round (224th overall): Mike Boone, Running back, Cincinnati - Once a wide receiver in high school at Baker County High in Florida, he made the transition to running back at the collegiate level. His total production from college doesn’t necessarily “wow” anyone, as his final two years as a starter tailed off badly compared to his first two seasons as a rotational player. He could see work as a third down specialist, as his brutal running style and route running skills would fit that role. Naturally, his hands are decent as well, considering his playing experience as a receiver.