After their loss to the Saints in the Wild Card, the Bears now own the No. 20 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Their loss in the playoffs puts them in a difficult situation: too low to select a top-notch quarterback prospect without trading up, and too high to indicate they made it to the playoffs. Nonetheless, they have a first-round pick for the first time since 2018, and they have the opportunity to add some young, up-and-coming talent to their roster.
With their season in the books, it’s now time to kick it into offseason mode. The Bears have a lot of different paths they can choose to go down with the 2021 NFL Draft, and I will do my best to highlight as many of them as possible. In my first mock of the year, they ended up with Zach Wilson in the first round, which is now highly unlikely barring a major trade up into the top 5.
I’ll pursue other options in future mocks this offseason, but let’s get one thing straight away before I get hate for it in the comments: I do not have them taking a quarterback in the first round of this particular mock.
There’s a chance they do so, whether it be through trading up for Wilson or Trey Lance, or taking Mac Jones later on. For the sake of this exercise, we’ll assume the quarterback value at No. 20 isn’t ideal, prompting them to wait until later to take a signal-caller.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a shot at our second Bears 7-round mock draft for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Round 1: Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
There’s a possibility the Bears trade up in the first round for a quarterback, and that’s a possibility I will explore in future mock drafts. However, if they stay put at No. 20, they may be better off drafting an offensive lineman.
There is a strong chance Christian Darrisaw could go somewhat higher than this in real life. With trade-ups and quarterback picks, however, some talented players could drop a little. Darrisaw has all of the tools needed to succeed on the blind-side in the NFL. At 6-foot-5 and 314 pounds, he has a tremendous frame and long arms for the tackle position. He is a nimble athlete with very good lateral quickness in pass protection and the flexibility needed to roll his hips into contact. He’s also a powerful blocker with ample recovery strength in his anchor, raw power at the point of attack, and a nasty edge in his game.
Darrisaw’s base can be a little too wide, and his hand placement can stand to be a bit more consistent. He otherwise checks all the boxes as a long-term starting offensive tackle, and the Bears could plug him into the starting lineup immediately.
Round 2 (from Buffalo): Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Projected trade: Bills trade 2021 second-round pick; Bears receive 2021 second-round pick, 2021 fourth-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick)
In this scenario, the Bears likely won’t have a quarterback worth taking this early. The consensus top-four prospects would likely be gone, as would Alabama’s Mac Jones. Instead of reaching for a quarterback, they could consider trading down in the second round to pick up a pick in the fourth round.
Rondale Moore should slide in the draft, having played in just seven games over the past two seasons. He has been electric every time he’s stepped onto the field, though, and he projects as a quality starter in the NFL. Anyone who has watched knows just how explosive he is: he accelerates very well off the snap, has great flexibility and contact balance in his lower body, and he changes direction seamlessly in the open field. Moore has fantastic ball-carrier vision after the catch to complement his physical gifts. He’s also a technically-sound route runner, doing well in attacking leverage spots by adjusting his stem and varying his releases off the ball.
Moore’s 5-foot-9, 180-pound frame and lack of top-notch physicality in tight windows could hurt his stock, as could his durability concerns. As a late second-round option, though, he would be a fantastic addition to a Bears offense that should have no issues with drafting such a dynamic playmaker out of the slot. He would push Anthony Miller from Day 1 and, ideally, take his starting role down the line.
Round 3: Brevin Jordan, TE, Miami (FL)
Cole Kmet looked good in his rookie year, and, for a rookie tight end, he was able to put together a promising second half of the season. With Jimmy Graham likely to become a cap casualty this offseason, though, the Bears will be in the market for a move tight end.
Brevin Jordan has proven to be a reliable and productive ‘U’ tight end for the Hurricanes in his three years there, tallying 105 catches, 1,358 yards and 13 touchdowns in the 26 games he has played. He is an athletic player for the tight end position who accelerates well off the snap and has the deep speed needed to stretch the field vertically, whether that be in an in-line role or out of the slot. He is a crisp route runner, showcasing the ability to sink his hips and explode coming out of his breaks. Jordan excels at finding soft spots in zone coverage across the middle of the field, and he brings polished footwork in his cuts.
Granted, Jordan isn’t the lengthiest tight end at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds. He doesn’t bring significant physicality to his game, at the catch point and as a blocker. His grip strength and pad level will need work if he is to become a better run blocker at the next level, but that’s not what will get him drafted this early. His athleticism, route-running and reliable hands should make him an ideal fit for any team looking for a ‘U’ tight end, and he would be a perfect complement to Kmet in Chicago’s offense.
Round 4 (from Buffalo): Daniel Faalele, OT, Minnesota
Despite drafting an offensive tackle in the first round of this mock, the Bears could look to groom another eventual starter along the offensive line. Who better than a massive man with quick feet and a high ceiling?
As the biggest player in the 2021 draft, Daniel Faalele stands in at an imposing 6-foot-9 and weighs a whopping 400 pounds. That size shows up on tape, as he has tremendous grip strength at the point of attack and has the power in his anchor needed to neutralize a power rush. His massive wingspan makes it easier for him to lock out edge rushers, and he does a good job of sealing off lanes in the run game. He’s also a good athlete for his size, as he has pretty solid acceleration climbing to the second level and has sufficient lateral agility.
Faalele didn’t play in 2020, and considering he only started playing football his senior year of high school in 2017, that lack of experience should hurt his draft stock. He’s also a bit raw in his pad level, hand placement, and balance, and he could stand to lose a little bit of weight to improve his conditioning. He’s a work in progress, but with a fourth-round pick, someone as physically gifted as Faalele would make for a really nice developmental prospect for the Bears’ offensive line.
Round 5: Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M
I know, I know.
It’s not necessarily ideal to wait until the fifth round for the Bears to acquire a quarterback. However, if they can’t come away with a good quarterback in the first round, it’s often a wasted process to draft a quarterback on Day 2, especially in this class. There’s such a drop-off that it would be better to wait until the start of Day 3 to draft a quarterback, rather than using more valuable draft capital on a quarterback with a low ceiling.
If the Bears take any quarterback around this part of the draft, Mond would likely be the most attractive option. A three-year starter in the SEC who led Texas A&M to the No. 5 ranking in the nation, Mond started 39 games at the collegiate level and threw for 9,661 yards, 71 touchdowns and 27 interceptions. He is an accurate thrower of the football who does a good job of anticipating his receivers open and hit them in stride. His velocity behind his throws allows him to fit balls into tight windows, as well as stretch the field vertically with natural arm strength. Mond has also proven to be a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 1,609 yards and 22 touchdowns and showing off very good lateral agility in space and in the pocket.
Mond shouldn’t be drafted with the expectation of building a franchise around him, as he can be inconsistent in his pocket presence and his footwork under pressure. He is also primarily a one-read quarterback who is limited in his ability to scan the field, and he’s somewhat smaller at 6-foot-2 and 217 pounds. This late in the draft, his arm strength, athleticism, and production at the collegiate level make him a player worth taking a shot on.
Round 6: Malik Herring, DL, Georgia
The Bears have a solid defensive line in place, but three key depth pieces in Roy Robertson-Harris, Mario Edwards Jr. and Brent Urban are all on pace to hit free agency this offseason. They could look to boost their depth up-front in the draft this year.
Malik Herring is a versatile defensive lineman, having experience as a 3-technique, 5-technique, and as a stand-up edge rusher in Georgia’s defense. He projects best as a 5-tech in the NFL, given his impressive athletic profile. He explodes incredibly well off the snap and has good agility in space for his position. Herring can also convert speed to power well, sink his hips and generating power in his lower body to complement his quickness. His activity in his hands and his diverse arsenal of pass-rushing techniques shows up on tape, as does a high motor both at the point of attack and in the open field.
At 6-foot-3 and 280 pounds, Herring is a bit of a tweener and can afford to add on 10 to 15 more pounds to his frame without sacrificing his quickness, but even then, he’ll still be on the smaller side. He also struggles a bit with eating gaps in run support and can stand to get stronger in his lower half. The Bears wouldn’t need him to be a full-time starter, though, and his pass-rushing value would make him a valuable rotational defender for their defensive line.
Round 6 (projected compensatory pick): Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State
With Tashaun Gipson, Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson all on one-year deals, the Bears could find themselves looking for safety depth this offseason.
Jaquan Brisker is a safety I’ve become infatuated with as a late-round talent over the past month or two. I wrote about him in my all-sleeper defensive team article, of which I’ll quote with my opinion on his game.
Brisker is a well-built safety at 6-foot-1 and 212 pounds whose size allows him to pack a powerful pop in his pads as a tackler. He plays with good form as a tackler, keeping his pads low and his weight underneath him when charging downhill, and his willingness to keep physical is of great benefit to his playing style. Brisker isn’t just a stereotypical box safety, though: he is a very fluid athlete who changes direction well and is able to cover a significant chunk of the field in two-high shells. He plays with a high motor in both coverage and run support, and that effort he shows allows him to make big plays.
Brisker probably wouldn’t be ready to start right away, as he’s still a bit raw in his ability to diagnose a play and read a quarterback’s progressions. The Bears could definitely use his combination of size, speed and physicality on special teams, though, and a player with his skill-set could develop into a solid starter down the line.
Round 6 (projected compensatory pick): Grant Stuard, LB, Houston
Roquan Smith’s injury exposed just how thin the Bears are at linebacker outside of him and Danny Trevathan. While a backup linebacker isn’t their biggest need, it wouldn’t hurt to target one on Day 3 in this year’s draft.
Well, what do you know? Another player from my all-sleeper defensive team! Grant Stuard fits that hybrid linebacker-safety mold to a T, and his athleticism gives him plenty of value on passing downs. Here’s what I said about him a few weeks ago:
A former safety who converted to the linebacker position in 2020, Stuard managed to keep his athleticism while adding some more bulk to his frame to play in the box. He has good functional agility and can move around efficiently in space. He has very good straight-line speed that is apparent when he closes in on a ball-carrier, kicking it into high gear and colliding with plenty of momentum. Stuard’s athleticism gives him plenty of value in coverage, and he has the route recognition abilities to make plays on the ball and close in on a pass-catcher. He takes precise angles in run support and does a good job of varying his tempo in pursuit.
Stuard is undersized at 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, and he shows a lack of physicality and ability to disengage from blocks near the line of scrimmage. The Bears could get plenty of use out of him as a special teamer, though, and with his athleticism, he could sub in for Trevathan on some passing downs down the line.
Round 6 (projected compensatory pick): Ty Chandler, RB, Tennessee
Tarik Cohen coming back to the backfield will be a big boost for the Bears’ offense, but Cordarrelle Patterson is on track to hit free agency. If they don’t re-sign him, then they will need some running back depth, and drafting one with special teams value wouldn’t hurt.
Ty Chandler has averaged 22.3 yards per kick return on 35 returns at Tennessee, including a touchdown in 2017. Those numbers make sense considering his style of play, as he is an athletic runner with plenty of juice once he gets into the open field. He is quick out of the backfield and accelerates quickly once he finds an open lane. His breakaway speed allows him to outrun defenders and makes him a threat to break free when teams give him any space to work with. Chandler’s vision at the second level allows him to extend the play and exploit subtle openings in the defense to pick up more yardage. He also carries a compact frame at 5-foot-11 and 205 pounds.
Chandler has never been more than a rotational back at the collegiate level, and given his slower diagnosing abilities and lack of top-notch power in his game, he probably won’t be much more than a backup in the NFL. He recently entered the transfer portal, and while that likely means he won’t be in the 2021 draft, it isn’t out of the question he still declares for the draft. If he does, then the Bears would be wise to keep tabs on him late on Day 3.
Round 7 (from Miami via Atlanta): Quinn Meinerz, iOL, Wisconsin-Whitewater
The Bears may not draft an interior offensive lineman incredibly early with Sam Mustipher looking like a capable starter at center. While that’s still a possibility, they could find some under-the-radar interior gems on Day 3.
Quinn Meinerz was an AP first-team Division III All-American in 2019, and his tape showcases a nasty blocker who just flat-out dominated his competition physically. He has okay length at 6-foot-3, but his 320-pound frame is the selling point: he is incredibly thick and has natural power in both his upper and lower half. He packs a powerful punch at the point of attack and has the nasty edge needed to drive defenders into the dirt. Meinerz works hard to obtain inside hand placement, and he is able to roll his hips into contact to seal off defenders in the ground game. He has natural leverage in his pads and does a good job of staying low and getting his weight underneath him. The three-sport high school athlete is also a quick processor who can pick up blitzes, execute combo blocks and find work on zone runs consistently.
Meinerz’s Division III status could lead to a learning curve early in his career, and a lack of top-notch length could hurt him a bit. He’s also a bit stiff in his movements and can struggle moving laterally. His lack of a 2020 season due to Division III schools postponing their season until the spring could hurt his stock a bit, as well. Though there are warranted concerns with his game, Meinerz at the very least should get looks late on Day 3, and a player as strong and nasty as he is would make him a nice addition to the Bears’ offensive line.