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Draft Q&A: Who do Bears target if they trade for Russell Wilson?

Lead Draft Analyst Jacob Infante answers your questions about the Bears’ plans for the 2021 NFL Draft, and what recent trade rumors would do to their draft outlook.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 30 Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ryan Pace might be allergic to first-round draft picks.

Having traded their 2019 and 2020 Round 1 selections for Khalil Mack, the Bears have not made a draft choice in the first round since Roquan Smith in 2018. While they’re currently on track to have the No. 20 pick in the 2021 draft, recent rumors indicate that may not be the case for too long.

The Seahawks are reportedly fielding offers for Russell Wilson, and the Bears are one of the four teams that the eight-time Pro Bowler would accept a hypothetical trade to.

The other three teams all have much larger roadblocks they would need to pass to trade for Wilson. The Saints are still in salary cap hell even after making several moves to free up space, the Cowboys have Dak Prescott and likely won’t be looking to move on from him anytime soon, and the Raiders have Derek Carr, whom they appear to feel confident in.

Although Chicago would have some slight salary cap adjustments to make to acquire Wilson — or Deshaun Watson, another Pro Bowl quarterback who is currently on the market as a trade option — their path to making such a move is clearer than the opposition.

With that in mind, the Bears would have to give up their first-round pick in 2021 as a key part of a massive package in a deal with Seattle. It would definitely be a worthy sacrifice to make.

How could a potential quarterback trade affect the Bears’ draft plans, though? Which offensive tackles should they target if they stay put at No. 20? I answer these questions and more in an NFL Draft Q&A.

With rumors picking up about the Bears making a big splash at the quarterback position this offseason, there’s now a realistic chance they won’t be picking in the first round this year.

Should they acquire Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson — the former of which appearing more likely at this point — then they could potentially give up their draft picks in the first two rounds this year, among other selections.

If that were to be the case, look for the Bears to still target an offensive lineman in Round 3. The value along the interior offensive line would likely be better, as many of the top offensive tackles would probably be gone within the first two rounds. Should a tackle fall, Clemson’s Jackson Carman and Stanford’s Walker Little are two big-bodied prospects who could realistically be available in that range.

Chicago could go outside the box with a high-upside developmental prospect to step in at right tackle, too. Northern Iowa’s Spencer Brown is a lengthy project with a high physical ceiling, while East Carolina’s D’Ante Smith brings a great combination of arm length, agility and raw power at the point of attack.

Though the interior isn’t as big of a need for the Bears, they could likely find some quality talent there in Round 3. Two massive maulers like Deonte Brown from Alabama and Ben Cleveland from Georgia might be intriguing options for them near the end of Day 2. Quinn Meinerz out of Wisconsin-Whitewater is a powerful and polished small-school blocker who could also be on the board and make sense as a target.

The Bears would likely find better luck finding an interior offensive lineman in Round 3 if they’re prioritizing a Day 1 contributor, but regardless of what direction they’d go in, they should be able to find quite a bit of talent on the board at that time.

For what it’s worth, answering this question assumes the likes of Penei Sewell, Rashawn Slater and Christian Darrisaw are all off the board.

From a pure pass-protecting standpoint, one intriguing offensive tackle the Bears could consider at No. 20 is Samuel Cosmi from Texas.

A lengthy tackle at 6-foot-7 with impressive agility in his pass sets, Cosmi brings an eye-opening combination of size and mobility. He can change direction well in his kickslide and accelerates well with good body control when climbing to the second level. His ability to adjust his angles in his pass sets to knock an edge rusher off his arc on a speed rush is impressive, and he does a good job of rolling his hips into contact to seal off defenders. Though a bit unpolished in terms of his pad level — which makes sense, given how tall he is — he does bring some nice raw power at the point of attack.

With the Bears bringing in former Texas head coach Tom Herman as an offensive analyst, they have a first-hand witness as to how good Cosmi is. Should they stay put at No. 20, he would make a lot of sense.

Teven Jenkins out of Oklahoma State and Jalen Mayfield from Michigan are two more intriguing linemen who would be realistic targets for the Bears in Round 1. Mayfield is tremendously built at 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds, and he brings an intriguing combination of power and mobility to his game. Nimble in pass protection and packing a mean punch at the line of scrimmage, he has the physical attributes needed to be a long-term starter at right tackle in the NFL. He’s fairly raw in his pad level and his consistency with his hand placement, but the upside factor with Mayfield is palpable.

Jenkins may not have the top-notch agility of the aforementioned two tackles, but he more than makes up for it with technique and pure nastiness at the point of attack. His grip strength allows him to overwhelm defenders when locked up with them, and the strength he packs in his anchor makes it difficult for edge rushers to push the pocket against him with power rushes. He has good functional athleticism and body control, as he’s coordinated in his footwork and has flexible hips, even if his speed isn’t necessarily notable. Jenkins could bring a dynamic of nastiness to the Bears’ offensive line if selected.

If the Bears are able to keep their second-round pick this year in a quarterback trade, keep your eyes on a player like North Dakota State’s Dillon Radunz — more on him in a bit. If Liam Eichenberg from Notre Dame or Alex Leatherwood from Alabama are still on the board in Round 2, then either one of them would project as Day 1 starters for their offensive line.

I’ve already dug into Round 3 targets, so I’ll focus a little bit more on some Day 3 sleepers. The Bears currently don’t have a fourth-round pick, barring a trade to acquire a pick in that range. If they can keep their second-round pick if they trade for Russell Wilson, then it would make plenty of sense for them to attempt a trade down in that round to acquire some more early Day 3 draft capital.

A tackle I currently have a Round 5 grade on is Marshall’s Josh Ball. He’s a massive individual at 6-foot-8 and 350 pounds, and he brings impressive lateral quickness for someone as big as he is. Powerful at the point of attack, his raw combination of size, strength and agility projects him as a high-upside developmental prospect.

If the Bears are looking for someone a little more polished, then Larry Borom out of Missouri could fit the bill. He’s another massive blocker at 6-foot-6 and 332 pounds, and he packs a mean punch that allows him to physically manhandle defenders upon contact. He’s pretty intelligent in picking up blitzes and twists, and he’s an effective zone blocker who does a good job of clearing out his lane and determining when to bounce off a defender and pick up a new man.

Ryan Pace has drafted four Georgia players in his six drafts as the Bears’ general manager, and given some of the talent they’re trotting out this year, it wouldn’t be surprising if he went with another Bulldog this year.

Edge rusher Azeez Ojulari is my top-ranked Bulldog this year as my No. 25 overall player, but he’s unlikely to be a target for the Bears as a first-round defensive prospect.

Counting Jamie Newman as a Wake Forest player, here are some of the Georgia prospects who could be of interest to the Bears this offseason:

  • SAF Richard LeCounte III
  • OG Ben Cleveland
  • OC Trey Hill
  • LB Monty Rice
  • TE Tre’ McKitty
  • SAF Mark Webb
  • DL/EDGE Malik Herring

While giving away an entire draft class — and a young star on defense — in a trade à la Ricky Williams is unlikely, I will say this:

When it comes to securing a star quarterback like Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson, there is no price too high.

If the Bears are able to keep their second-round pick, Dillon Radunz could be a potential offensive tackle target for them to help boost their front line.

A consensus first-team FCS All-American in 2019, Radunz looked the part of not just a legitimate NFL prospect on tape, but a potential Day 1 starter, as well. He brings a nice frame at 6-foot-6 and 304 pounds that could likely afford to pack on more muscle without sacrificing his mobility. He certainly has plenty of athletic ability, as he is quick out of his stance and takes precise angles in his pass sets. Radunz has polished footwork in pass protection, and he also has enough core strength needed to stand his ground against a power rush and recover enough to prevent defenders from pushing him back in the pocket.

Though he showed improvement in his pad level at the Senior Bowl and in his lone 2020 showcase game against Central Arkansas, he can still pop upright a bit too often. His frame could stand to add 10 to 15 pounds to it to better withstand the physicality of NFL edge rushers. While he did look really good at the Senior Bowl and has impressive tape, a lack of a real 2020 season and his small-school status could prevent him from going Round 1.

Despite some concerns with his profile, Radunz looks the part of a potential long-term starter at offensive tackle in the NFL. If developed correctly, he can be a key piece of a team’s offensive line, and the Bears would be wise to consider him in Round 2, regardless of whether they trade for a quarterback.

If you haven’t already, please consider checking out my 2021 NFL Draft guide on Patreon! For just $5, you will have access to my entire top 375 big board, a 7-round mock draft, in-depth scouting reports on my top 30 prospects, a long-term positional outlook for the Bears, and more! Your consideration is greatly appreciated.