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Chicago Bears 2018 7-Round Mock Draft: Big Twelve Edition

The Bears can fill a lot of needs by going to the Big 12, but only if they are willing to stretch a bit on what they are looking for.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

With the draft getting closer and closer, Mock Draft season is entering a strange frenzy. Football fans are burned out on mock drafts, but they also want analysis and insight to give them something to read while they wait for Thursday. Therefore, I’m continuing my series of looking at the draft through the lens of a college football fan. Each of these mock drafts allows the Chicago Bears to make choices from a single conference (in this case, the Big 12). I must use the default settings on Fanspeak, and I am not allowed any trades. If you want to second guess my own armchair GM antics, the full draft can be found here [Link].

The story of the Big Twelve is the story of reaching on players who fit, more or less, with the Bears’ needs. However, these are typically players selected ahead of where they would represent the best value.

#8 Connor Williams (OT, Texas)

Let’s make something clear--Williams is probably not a Top 20 pick, let alone a Top 10 pick. However, the Big 12 just doesn’t have top-end talent this year. Leaving aside the one quarterback (who came off the board first in this simulation), the Big 12 has a lot of players who will probably be drafted at some point, just not on the first day. At least with Williams I’m picking up a player who has real talent and who is likely to be--at least--a dependable contributor at a premium position.

First off the board was: Baker Mayfield, QB (Texas Tech Oklahoma). I’m a little surprised that the computer did this so consistently. Not because I think that the pick is a bad choice, but this series of simulations was the first time that Mayfield has been the first QB taken on every run-through. I am sort of curious to see how Mayfield turns out as a pro, but when I look at the ups and downs of this QB class (the the awkward draft position of #8), I’m relieved that it’s not a problem for the Bears this year.

#39 James Washington (WR, Oklahoma State)

Washington has too many limitations to be the first wide receiver off the board, and he is actually a little flawed in terms of running routes and regarding his physical frame. However, he’s explosive, with some really surprising acceleration and an ability to get by defensive backs and to make them look silly--at least on his best days.

I sort of considered: Mark Andrews, TE (Oklahoma). Andrews is at least worth mentioning here because he’s #39 on my Confidence Board, and he’s actually several slots ahead of Washington. However, I would not be happy with this selection in this round. Andrews is big and can sort of use his size, but he’s not a blocker and he’s not a route runner. What he seems to be is a somewhat slow, somewhat large slot receiver. I just don’t think the Bears need to pick up a one-dimensional tight end with their second-rounder this year.

#105 Dorance Armstrong (EDGE, Kansas)

I was sort of surprised when Armstrong was there in the fourth round. This is not because I think he is an exceptional talent, but instead because EDGE guys are frequently drafted early. I think he becomes a good option starting in the third, and while he is raw, and while he would need to transition to the 3-4 OLB role, there is the basic athletic potential and fluidity to him that he could make the shift. Perhaps more importantly, the Bears need to invest in the position and this is the first time that doing so is not a blatant reach in this draft.

I passed on: Kyzer White (S, West Virginia). This would be awkward. I really don’t see how Kevin White is on the Bears next year. If he plays lights out, then someone else will probably take a flier on him. If he struggles, Pace needs to cut his losses and move on. Thus, the Bears would be in the weird position of bringing one brother on board right as they choose to move on from the other. Additionally, I don’t think that safety is anywhere near as big of a need as OLB.

#115 Holton Hill (CB, Texas)

I love Hill’s physicality, and I like his ability to (at least sort of) disguise what he’s up to. I like his size (a solid 6’3”) and his overall athleticism. I do not like his decision-making, as he was suspended for breaking team rules and he seems fairly immature. However, if he can grow up just a bit, he could be a bargain, here.

#145 Marcell Ateman (WR, Oklahoma State)

I don’t love the fact that I’m investing a pair of picks in flawed wide receivers in this draft, but the value is not there for defensive players and the position is still one of need for Chicago--and I will continue to think it is one of need for Chicago until I see on the field that it is not. Ateman is not going to set the world on fire with his athleticism, but what he can do is serve as a functional piece moving forward.

I wanted to like: Joe Noteboom (OT, TCU). So, I am not a true draft analyst, like EJ or Jacob. Instead, I am a guy who likes football, who watches a lot of college football, and who tries to study the game as best as he can. Thus, when some scout-types started talking about Noteboom, I assumed that there was something there that I just missed picking up. I don’t naturally watch a lot of TCU games, so that seemed possible. I don’t see it. The video I found of him suggested that he was overmatched, that any technique he had was pretty average, and that he doesn’t even get the most out of his frame. Maybe I’m just missing something, but Noteboom seems like a guy who has not maximized his gifts, and with Williams as my first-round selection in this draft, there is no need to pick up a project tackle.

#181 Poona Ford (DL, Texas)

This is a reach, and I see Ford as a rotational piece. He’s a limited 4-3 tackle. However, by this point, I am out of players I actually like coming out of the Big 12 (by some definitions I’ve been reaching the whole time, but at least at the top of the draft I was getting players I still liked). Basically, the idea here is seeing if Ford can be developed into a backup. I wanted to find a stronger prospect for the defensive side of the trenches, but that player just wasn’t there.

My backup was: Nobody. I was almost positive Ford would be there, and I also did not have another player I thought was as promising at the same position.

#224 Tre Flowers (S, Oklahoma State)

So, I’ll get the bad out of the way first, and those things go a long way to explaining why Flowers is available here. He’s not physical (which I dislike in any defensive back, especially in a 6’3” safety), and he misses tackles. However, he’s got a good frame, he plays with some intelligence, and he can make plays on the ball. Because safety is not a pressing need for the Bears right now, he can be drafted and given a chance to adjust to the needed level of tackling skill. I’m not convinced he’ll develop the instincts he’s lacking, but he is a true value selection in the 7th round, as some are talking about him as a 4th-rounder.