Though the math says otherwise, the Bears are practically out of the playoff race for the 2021 season.
A 4-8 record and a lack of momentum heading into the end of the year makes a second consecutive postseason appearance highly unlikely. With that in mind, now seems like as good of a time as any for another Bears mock draft.
There are a handful of positions that stand out as potential needs for the Bears going forward, and given their lack of draft capital, it seems unlikely they’ll be able to address all of them in the 2022 NFL Draft. That doesn’t mean they won’t have plenty of talented prospects to choose from when it’s their turn to pick, though.
For the sake of this mock draft, I am assuming the following. There’s a chance some of these may not happen, but for this individual mock, I’ll be operating under these assumptions:
- Allen Robinson does not return next year
- James Daniels is re-signed and another interior veteran lineman is signed in free agency
- One of, but not both of Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols are brought back
With those key points in mind, let’s take a stab at another Bears 7-round 2022 mock draft.
Round 2: David Bell, WR, Purdue
For as much hype as I’ve given David Bell on my Twitter account, this is the first of my three mock drafts to feature him as the Bears’ second-round pick.
Bell is a well-built receiver at 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds. He uses his size well, as he does a good job of boxing out defenders at the catch point and using his hands near the line of scrimmage to create separation against press. He is a fluid athlete with loose hips across the middle of the field, and he showcases impressive footwork adjusting his stems and attacking a defensive back’s blindspot. Bell has very good ball skills, contorting his body well at the catch point and squaring up to the ball well in the air to attack it at its highest point.
Some see Bell as a first-round pick, and while that is definitely likely, this year’s group of receivers features a good chunk of possible Round 1 selections. Given that Bell doesn’t have the deep speed of a Jahan Dotson or Jameson Williams, it’s a possibility he falls into early Round 2. If he does, the Bears would be foolish to not at least consider making him their new boundary weapon should Allen Robinson depart in free agency.
Round 3: Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
Anybody who has watched the Bears’ secondary this year likely wouldn’t be surprised if they took a defensive back early in the 2022 draft.
Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, the nephew of Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson, has been a valuable asset for TCU’s secondary over the last two seasons. With 20 pass deflections and 2 interceptions in his time as a starter, he has been able to disrupt opposing offenses with his scrappy brand of coverage. He has a sharp football IQ, picking up on route concepts quickly and showing the patience in his footwork needed to let the route develop and explode when the time is right. His fluidity stands out on tape, as he can change direction seamlessly in coverage. For a smaller cornerback, he isn’t afraid of physicality at the catch point, nor is he intimidated by bigger receivers in man coverage, and he has the ball skills needed to track the ball and make a play.
The big issues with Hodges-Tomlinson is his size, being listed at 5-foot-9 and 177 pounds. He’ll need to gain a little bit of muscle at the next level, which can see him get boxed out at times or struggle in run support. That said, he offers diversity as either a slot cornerback or a field-side defender, and the Bears need help at both positions.
Though Eddie Jackson hasn’t been the turnover-causing machine the Bears expected him to be in recent years — nor has he been a very good tackler by any stretch — he has still been a valuable piece in coverage. Chicago would be wise to invest in the safety position alongside Jackson at some point.
Demani Richardson is still a junior, so there’s a chance he chooses to stay in school for another year. If he does declare, though, he has the potential to outdo his projected draft stock. He’s a safety with very good size at 6-foot-1 and 215 pounds, and that listed frame complements his style of play. He is a physical safety who can hit hard and offers good form and play strength as a tackler. Richardson is also a more-than-capable zone defender in two-high shells or guarding underneath, as he offers good fluidity in his hips and ideal closing speed when jumping a route.
He seems to be a work in progress in terms of his instincts, as he can be a split second too late to consistently make plays on the ball on occasions. If he declares and falls to Day 3, however, the Bears could certainly use a safety with Richardson’s physicality and athleticism.
Round 5: Obinna Eze, OT, TCU
As I mentioned previously, I’m going into this specific mock draft under the assumption the Bears re-sign James Daniels and sign a veteran center in free agency. Doing that would solidify the interior, but there’s no such thing as too much offensive line depth.
If you’re a fan of moldable physical specimens up front, Obinna Eze is your guy in the 2022 class. The three-year collegiate starter who transferred from Memphis for the 2021 season has fantastic size at 6-foot-8 and 315 pounds with super long limbs. His wingspan makes it tough for opposing defenders to enter his frame, and he offers some nice raw power in his upper body. Eze moved to the United States from Nigeria as a basketball recruit, and that background is apparent in how well he moves on film. His lateral mobility is impressive for someone as big as he is, and his acceleration to the second level is very good, as well.
Eze is pretty raw, as his instincts in pass protection can improve, and his high center of gravity can affect his balance at the point of attack, but he has what can’t be taught. The Bears would be wise to consider taking a flier on him because of his freakish athletic upside.
Round 6: JoJo Domann, LB, Nebraska
JoJo Domann’s bizarre adventure from safety to linebacker sees him stand among the most intriguing late-round defenders in the 2022 class.
Domann is a three-year starter whose experience as a defensive back is apparent in how well he processes and moves in space. He is an athletic linebacker with super loose hips and the lateral agility needed to roam as a sideline-to-sideline defender who can chase down ball-carriers and make them bite the dust. He has good closing speed as a tackler, and his spatial awareness across the middle of the field in zone coverage is encouraging for his three-down value in the NFL. Attacking him across the middle of the field is essentially useless. For someone who is pretty new to the linebacker position, the 6-foot-1, 230-pounder has shown promise stacking and shedding blocks in the box against the run.
Durability has been a concern for Domann, who suffered season-ending injuries in both 2017 and 2021. He’s more reactive than instinctive at this stage, and he can get better at breaking down and tackling with form against the run. Because of this, the national draft hype surrounding him isn’t necessarily crazy noisy at this stage. Given his athleticism and experience in coverage, though, he would potentially be a great depth addition to the Bears’ linebacker room.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure references in this scouting report: 7