Draft Day is here, ladies and gentlemen.
32 teams will have the chance to prepare for their future in whatever way they see fit. Some teams will make wise decisions, while others will produce blunders that will be talked about for generations. The Chicago Bears certainly hope to fall under the former.
My last mock draft was released right after the NFL Combine, and quite a bit has changed since then. The Bears’ need for a wide receiver has diminished, and their offense as a whole appears to be a lot better on paper than it was last season. They can really go in a lot of separate ways with their seven selections.
For the sake of spicing things up a bit, I will not be making any of the picks that I made in my last mock draft. I also won’t be predicting any trades like I did last time, although it’s definitely possible to happen when the draft kicks off.
Enough talk. It’s time to dig right into the action. Let’s take a look at what Chicago may end up doing in the draft this year.
Round 1: Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech
I know, I know.
By now, picking Tremaine Edmunds to go to the Bears is the most boring pick one can make in a mock draft because almost everybody’s doing it. However, considering the fact that Bradley Chubb and Quenton Nelson are both likely to be off the board, they probably won’t end up with a blue-chip prospect in the first round. That said, they might as well go for a player with a lot of upside, and Edmunds has that in spades.
To be blunt, Edmunds is a physical freak of nature. He’s 6’5” and 253 pounds, runs a 4.54 40-yard dash and has the hip fluidity to drop back in coverage from sideline to sideline. He’s a reliable tackler with great closing speed who can blitz up the middle efficiently.
Watched tape on Tremaine Edmunds (VA Tech). 6-foot-5, 240. Rare size & athleticism at LB. He can move. Puts a good hit on Clemson QB Kelly Bryant here. pic.twitter.com/6XMI0S9c84— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) February 19, 2018
He also has the length and athleticism to rush off the edge if necessary, although he’s admittedly a much better pass rusher as an inside linebacker. Plus, in case you haven’t heard this a million times before, he’s only 19 years old. Needless to say, the sky’s the limit for Edmunds.
He isn’t without his faults, though. Edmunds needs to improve his instincts more, and his situational awareness can be spotty at times. He’ll need to work on being able to diagnose plays if he wants to live up to his potential in the NFL. When he knows what he’s doing, he’s a type of player that offense plan for. When he doesn’t, he’s a total non-factor on the field.
Edmunds probably won’t be a key contributor right away. It may take him a year or so to get used to the NFL game. It’s the fact that he has the potential to be an all-world talent at the inside linebacker position, though, that makes him an intriguing talent to take at No. 8.
Round 2: Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
This year’s offensive guard class is loaded with Round 1 talent. Quenton Nelson is a lock to go in at least the top eight picks. Will Hernandez and Isaiah Wynn both have loads of talent, Billy Price could sneak into the back end of the first round if teams feel confident enough about his medicals. It’s unlikely that any of them - mainly the last three, because there’s virtually no way Nelson drops - will be available when the Bears pick in Round 2, though. After them, the talent at the guard spot drops significantly. Braden Smith and Austin Corbett are late Round 2 guys at best, and there doesn’t seem to be anyone else who will likely be picked on Day 2.
For what it’s worth, I don’t want the Bears to move Cody Whitehair back to guard. However, with a player like Frank Ragnow on the board, they would definitely be in their right mind to consider it.
At 6’5” and 309 pounds, Ragnow is quite the gargantuan individual. He’s a take-no-prisoners blocker who has good strength throughout his body and has the drive to bowl over defenders.
He’s also a solid athlete who does a good job of getting up from his snap to block. Ragnow also has a high motor, is a reliable snapper, and takes good angles to defenders. Off the field, he is a leader in the locker room with a competitive nature and the drive to succeed.
His pad level can be improved, and he’s coming off of a season-ending ankle injury, so he’s not a perfect prospect. What he is, though, is a relentless blocker who would be a great addition to Chicago’s interior offensive line.
Round 4: Kemoko Turay, EDGE, Rutgers
Truth be told, the edge rusher position is probably the Bears’ biggest need right now. However, the value at the top of the first round outside of Bradley Chubb, as well as the value near the top of the second round, lacks severely. Unless they trade down in either round, it could be a struggle for Chicago to find a pass rusher early on. If they can end up with someone like Kemoko Turay, though, then they would be in great hands.
For what it’s worth, I would pick Turay much higher than Round 4, and it’s likely that some NFL teams agree with me. That said, it’s not guaranteed that he’ll still be on the board this late. Some believe that he’ll go in Round 2, while other think he’ll drop later in the draft. If he’s still available in Round 4, then he would be an absolute steal.
Turay fits the Vic Fangio mold for an edge rusher. At 6’5” and 252 pounds, he has the perfect size and length for the position. He’s explosive off the snap, athletic in space, and he plays with a high motor. He has a solid array of pass-rushing techniques and has very good bend off the edge that helps him to sneak under offensive tackles.
Turay also has fluid hips and decent instincts in coverage, so his NFL team will be able to utilize him in multiple roles at the next level.
That’s not to say that Turay doesn’t have his concerns. He needs to get better at shedding blocks, as he can be completely taken out of a play if he doesn’t win the initial battle with his offensive lineman. His injury history is also troubling: he suffered two season-ending injuries in his collegiate career. Plus, his production - 14.5 sacks in four seasons - isn’t all that impressive.
With good coaching, though, Turay can be able to shed blocks better. He can improve his durability, even though injuries aren’t really in a player’s control. If he can stay healthy and bulk up a little bit, then the rest of his physical and mental tools will all come together to make him a reliable starter in the NFL.
Round 4 (via Arizona Cardinals): DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
The wide receiver position became a need once again for the Bears when they opted not to match the offer that the New Orleans Saints made for Cameron Meredith. Although there’s a possibility that they may target a receiver in Round 2, they could still end up with a solid contributor early on Day 3 while filling bigger needs.
DaeSean Hamilton isn’t an electric athlete by any means. He doesn’t have that great of a catch radius, and he isn’t a burner in space. What he is, though, is a phenomenal route runner out of the slot and a fantastic football character.
Hamilton’s ability to come out of his breaks is arguably the best in the class. He makes sharp cuts, has fantastic body control and is able to fake out defensive backs with ease.
DaeSean Hamilton vs. Micheal Joseph— Joe’s Pool Hall (@Drafttaeks) January 24, 2018
My goodness this was pretty pic.twitter.com/p0xg0k2AtI
He has reliable hands and is a bigger slot target at 6’1” and 205 pounds. While some slot weapons have the proclivity to being non-factors in tight windows, Hamilton is unfazed by tight coverage and can catch passes even if he’s being swarmed in coverage, which admittedly isn’t often.
If discussion from scouts, coaches, and teammates is any indication, Hamilton is also a fantastic personality to have in the locker room. His profile on NFL.com states that he has been described as an unselfish player willing to help out his teammates. Sure, character can’t really be accounted for unless you’ve actually met the player himself, but the conversation about his personality is favorable.
Hamilton actually had his best year from an analytical standpoint in his freshman season, when he 82 passes for 899 yards and two touchdowns. While he faded into the background for the most part in his sophomore and junior seasons, he stepped it up in 2017 with 53 receptions, 857 yards and nine touchdowns.
With Meredith gone, the Bears need one more starter at the wide receiver position. Hamilton would be a high-upside addition with the potential to develop into a dangerous threat out of the slot.
Round 5: Quin Blanding, SS, Virginia
The Bears seem to have a solid starting secondary on their roster, with Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara starting at cornerback, Bryce Callahan seeing time as the nickelback, and Eddie Jackson and Adrian Amos manning the two safety spots. The depth behind those players, though, is severely lacking. Plus, with Amos’ contract expiring at the end of the 2018 season, there’s always a chance that he may not return to the team. Considering this, it would be wise of Chicago to invest in their secondary at some point in the draft.
Quin Blanding played free safety at Virginia, but he would be better suited as a strong safety at the next level. Why? Here’s why:
Quin Blanding: Professional Finisher. pic.twitter.com/oAIDiIbjZp— Lance Zierlein (@LanceZierlein) July 17, 2017
Blanding is one of the most reliable run-defending safeties in this year’s class. He takes good angles to the ball, knows where the running back is going before he gets there, and he consistently brings defenders down. While he’s not a big hitter, per se, he gets the job done. He also has good ball skills: he can track down deep passes well and position himself to make a play.
Blanding’s production is off-the-wall insane, too. In four seasons in college, he totaled a whopping 492 tackles, in addition to 10 interceptions and 16 pass deflections. He also has a very good frame for the pros at 6’2” and 215 pounds.
The issue in Blanding’s game is his hip fluidity, or lack there of. He isn’t very rangy in coverage, and he can get burned when covering good route runners. He also doesn’t have top-level straight-line speed, either. However, he has the tackling ability and the instincts to start off his career as a valuable special teams weapon before potentially becoming a decent, starting-caliber player.
Round 6: Joe Ostman, EDGE, Central Michigan
As I mentioned earlier, edge rusher is probably the biggest need on Chicago’s roster. While a rotation of Leonard Floyd, Aaron Lynch, Kemoko Turay and Sam Acho doesn’t sound half bad, it definitely wouldn’t hurt them to double down on the position in the draft. If anything it would benefit them, especially with a productive player like Joe Ostman still on the board.
Ostman won’t wow you with his athleticism. His acceleration off the snap is average at best, and he doesn’t have great bend off the edge. What he will impress teams with, though, is his technique, his motor, and his dedication to the game.
Oh hello there Joe Ostman!— John Owning (@JohnOwning) February 3, 2018
Nice speed rush with a two-hand swipe to shorten the corner at the top of the arc. pic.twitter.com/pU4GXN1Ksj
He delivers a vicious punch and has a wide variety of pass-rushing moves in his arsenal, including a devastating spin move. He has enough drive in his lower body to be able to bull rush offensive tackles efficiently, too.
At 6’3” and 255 pounds, he has enough length and size to be a 3-4 outside linebacker, even though he was a defensive end in a 4-3 scheme at Central Michigan. Ostman’s motor is very impressive, as he basically never takes a play off. He chases down running backs on run plays and fights hard to get to the ball carrier on every down. His NFL.com profile states that he is a warrior in the weight room.
Another thing that sticks out about Ostman is his production. He racked up 14 sacks in 2017, which led the FBS. He also had eight sacks the year before, and finished his collegiate career with 45.5 tackles for a loss. Sure, it’s not likely that those stats will be replicated at the next level, but it’s still mighty impressive.
With the addition of Ostman, the Bears would stabilize their depth on the edge who has potential to be a valuable special teams player and a rotational piece.
Round 7: Ito Smith, RB, Southern Miss
Ryan Pace has drafted a running back in every draft he’s had as the general manager for the Bears. If you include Phil Emery’s selection of Ka’Deem Carey in 2014, then that makes it four straight drafts that the team has added a running back. The position isn’t one of need as of now, of course, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them target one late in the draft if the value is right.
Ito Smith is on the smaller side for a running back at 5’9” and 195 pounds. He isn’t all that powerful, and he doesn’t have great instincts quite yet. However, he will likely end up carving a niche for himself as a weapon in the passing game out of the backfield. He has very good straight-line speed, is a patient runner, has good balance and is elusive in space.
He has reliable hands, is able to create good separation through his breaks and makes good cuts.
Smith’s production is fantastic, as well. In the final three years of his college career, he had at least 1,100 rushing yards, 10 rushing touchdowns and 40 catches in each season. He graduates Southern Miss with a 5.5 yards-per-carry average and a 10.3 yards-per-catch average.
Matt Nagy likes receivers who have the ability to catch the ball. Adding Ito Smith to their already talented group of running backs would give them another reliable weapon in the passing game.