As the Bears head into the 2020 offseason, they have a lot of reflecting to do.
They have a handful of needs to address this season, and they have to find a way to extend their original title window before it closes and spirals into chaos. They don’t have a ton of cap space to sign premier free agents or keep all of their starters slated to hit free agency.
Chicago also has an interesting draft dilemma. With two second-round picks and no picks in the first or third rounds, they have to find a way to add young talent to their roster that can contribute both now and in the long run.
For the sake of this mock draft, let’s assume the Bears choose to sign a veteran free agent to compete with Mitchell Trubisky and pass on drafting a quarterback until 2021. This makes them put their search for a long-term quarterback right away on hold, opting to add more young talent and wait until they have a first-round pick in the next draft class.
To spice things up a bit, I am going to project two trades for the Bears—one where they trade up, and one where they trade down.
TRADE 1: Pittsburgh receives: 2020 second-round pick (43rd overall), 2020 seventh-round pick (211th overall)
Chicago receives: 2020 second-round pick (49th overall), 2020 fourth-round pick (114th overall), 2021 fourth-round pick
As it stands now, the Bears will likely have to wait close to 100 draft spots between their second-round pick and their projected fourth-round compensatory pick. They would be wise to trade down with one of their second-rounders to stock up on mid-round selections.
The Steelers just missed out on the playoffs this year, and a big reason was due to subpar quarterback play, whether it be from Mason Rudolph or Devlin Hodges. Though Ben Roethlisberger will probably return for 2020, they would be wise to draft a replacement this year. With quarterback-needy teams like the Colts and Buccaneers drafting ahead of them, trading up to the Bears’ selection would allow them to leap ahead and secure their guy.
TRADE 2: New England receives: 2020 fourth-round pick via Pittsburgh (114th overall), 2020 fifth-round pick via Las Vegas (142nd overall), 2021 fifth-round pick
Chicago receives: 2020 third-round pick (91st overall)
Though the Bears could choose to keep their mid-round picks, Ryan Pace has shown that he isn’t afraid to trade up to get who he wants.
The Bears and Patriots have an established working relationship together, having traded with each other four times since Pace has become the team’s general manager. This trade would work out for both sides: Chicago gets to trade up into the third round, and New England gets to stock up on Day 3 picks.
With those trades in mind, let’s begin.
Round 2 (from Pittsburgh): Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue
Brycen Hopkins was the pick for the Bears’ first second-round pick in my first mock draft of the year, and at the expense of sounding repetitive, this seems like a match made in heaven.
Hopkins is an athletic and fluid athlete who runs routes very well for the tight end position and has natural ball skills and body control. He has some wheels in the open field, making him a threat after the catch. Throw in his 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame, and he provides an offense with a total mismatch for opposing defenses.
Hopkins won’t be an impact blocker at the next level, but his impressive receiving upside would complement a free agent blocking ‘Y’ tight end perfectly. His skill set makes him a perfect fit for the ‘U’ tight end spot that Trey Burton currently plays for the Bears.
Round 2: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
With Prince Amukamara’s late-season collapse and uninspiring play from Kevin Toliver in his absence, the Bears would be wise to add a cornerback at some point in this year’s draft.
A lengthy and physical defender on the boundary, Jaylon Johnson has the tools to fill Amukamara’s role from Day 1. He fights hard through contact in man coverage and can jam receivers at the line of scrimmage in press. He has fluid hips, changes direction well for a 6-foot cornerback and accelerates well coming out of his breaks. Johnson also has good ball skills and can adjust to the ball well in the air.
He can be a bit too handsy at times, and his quickness and instincts in the short game could use some work. However, his physical attributes, technique and upside would make him a very good fit alongside Kyle Fuller in Chicago’s secondary.
Round 3 (from New England): Lucas Niang, OL, TCU
This year’s offensive tackle class is one of the most talented in recent memory, and given the Bears’ long-term need at the position, they could end up selecting one this year.
Lucas Niang is a physical specimen with starting upside as either a tackle or a guard. His 6-foot-6, 340-pound frame carries a lot of bulk and raw power, as well as impressive length. He delivers a powerful punch at the initial point of contact and has good grip strength when engaged with a defender. Despite his size, he’s also a nimble athlete who can change direction fluidly with solid lateral quickness, as well as accelerate quickly to the second level.
Niang’s technique could use some polishing, as high pad level is a bit high and his hand placement could be more consistent. He should be able to start pretty early into his NFL career, though. As Robert Schmitz and I talked about on his Bear With Me podcast, the Bears could draft an offensive tackle to place him at guard early in his career with the option to convert him to right tackle with time. Niang would be a very good candidate to fill that role if he falls to the third round.
Round 4 (projected comp pick): Josh Uche, EDGE, Michigan
Leonard Floyd is a versatile defender in the Bears’ defense. His athleticism, help in run support and ability to occasionally drop back in coverage adds some wrinkles to his game and makes him more than just a regular pass-rusher. Problem is, rushing the passer is the most important thing an edge rusher needs to do, and he can’t seem to do that very well. If Chicago plans on letting him walk when his contact expires, they should look to find someone who can fill his role for cheap.
Josh Uche is an athletic spark plug who offers a lot of value on passing downs. He fires off the ball with very good acceleration and has very good direction-changing ability in the open field. He can sink his hips and turn the corner very well, and he has impressive range and fluidity in coverage for a 250-pound rusher. He was productive in his last two seasons at Michigan, too, tallying 14.5 sacks and 18.5 tackles for a loss.
Uche doesn’t have Floyd’s length, as he stands in at only 6-foot-2. And, like Floyd coming out of college, he lacks power in his frame and doesn’t pack much of a punch upon contact. He’ll have to start off as a rotational rusher on passing downs while he bulks up and improves against the run, but his athletic upside makes him an enticing prospect early on Day 3.
Round 5: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix put together a solid season in 2019, but it’s unlikely the Bears will be able to afford to extend him to a long-term deal. They could look to add some more talent to the position this offseason to help replace him.
If you’re looking for size at the safety position, there aren’t many safeties in this class who have more of it than Jeremy Chinn. At 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, he has a muscular frame with stellar length for a defensive back. He’s a hard-hitting safety who plays with very good closing speed as a tackler and isn’t afraid of contact. Chinn can adjust to the ball well and make plays, as made evident by his 13 career interception at the collegiate level. He’s also a versatile player who can play up high, in the box, or as a nickelback.
Chinn doesn’t have stellar range and can get better at changing direction, and his instincts in zone coverage could have to sharpen up if he wants to continue to play at a high level in the pros. He would be a good special teamer with potential to make an impact early in big nickel packages and possibly compete for a starting role down the line.
Round 5 (from Philadelphia): Akeem Davis-Gaither, ILB, Appalachian State
Though the big question is whether the Bears will re-sign Danny Trevathan or Nick Kwiatkoski, an overlooked situation is the impending free agency of Kevin Pierre-Louis, who was one of the team’s most valuable backups this year. If he hits the open market, Chicago could look to draft someone who could play a similar role to him.
A Day 3 player who would fit Pierre-Louis’ playing style (and his hyphened last name) is Akeem Davis-Gaither, who has 197 tackles, 24.5 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks in the past two years. He has very good athleticism for the linebacker position, showing off good closing speed as a tackler and good hip fluidity in coverage. He changes direction well in the open field and has versatility on passing downs, as he has taken snaps on the edge and as a nickel in the slot.
Though Davis-Gaither has good height at 6-foot-2, he’s skinny at 215 pounds. His pad level could use some work, as though he’s a reliable tackler in the Sun Belt, his pad level could give him trouble against the NFL’s powerful runners. His instincts could also use some work, as he’s much more reactive than instinctive. Davis-Gaither would likely do well as a backup linebacker with special teams value, though, and that’s what he’ll be drafted as in the NFL.
Round 6: JaMycal Hasty, RB, Baylor
Ryan Pace has drafted a running back in all but one draft as general manager of the Bears, even selecting two in 2019, though Kerrith Whyte Jr. was snatched away by Pittsburgh (guess they should call them the Stealers instead, ba dum tss). With Tarik Cohen heading into the final year of his contract, Pace might consider adding a player who could fill that role in the long run.
Though JaMycal Hasty was never the leading rusher at Baylor, he has made an impact every year he was on the team. He is a dynamic athlete who can make defenders miss in the open field and hit top speed very quickly. Once he identifies an open running lane, he hits it hard and accelerates through it very well. He’s also a polished pass-catcher, as he has good hands and can run sharp routes for a running back.
Hasty won’t be a lead back at the next level, as he doesn’t pack much power in his 5-foot-9, 205-pound frame and his decisiveness can be hit or miss. In a committee backfield as a change-of-pace back, though, he would be a very good fit, and he could be a cheaper replacement for Cohen when his rookie deal expires.