We’re just one sleep away from the beginning of the 2021 NFL Draft, so barring a trade for a veteran or a trade down, the Bears will soon make their first Round 1 pick in three years!
While much excitement surrounds the No. 20 overall pick, the Bears have seven other selections at their disposal to try and add some young pieces to one of the oldest rosters in the NFL. It’s obviously unknown exactly what the team will do yet, but they certainly have the opportunity to acquire some talented prospects over the last three days.
Assuming Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy are on the hot seat with upper management for the 2021 season, there’s a lot riding on this year’s draft. The Bears also find themselves nearing the end of their title window with this current roster, so regardless of whom they select in the draft, they’ll need this draft class to help give them some contributors going forward.
To close out the madness that is Chicago Bears 7-round mock drafts, here are my final predictions as to what they will do in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Note: For the sake of this exercise, I will not be performing any trades. It’s likely they’ll make some moves on Draft Day, but I won’t be making any here.
Round 1: Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
Teven Jenkins is seen as one of the favorites to get drafted by the Bears for a reason.
A nasty, powerful and physically gifted force at the right tackle position, Jenkins would instantly bring a mean edge to Chicago’s offensive line that has arguably been lacking since Kyle Long’s prime. Jenkins brings precise footwork in pass protection and the intelligence needed to block in zone effectively and pick up twists and blitzes consistently.
The Bears re-signed Germain Ifedi to a one-year deal to presumably play at right tackle, but they’ve ignored fixing the offensive tackle position with premier draft capital for far too long. Jenkins would give them a potential young building block at a key position.
Round 2: Elijah Moore, WR, Ole Miss
With Anthony Miller on the trading block and the strength of this year’s rookie slot class, don’t be shocked at all if the Bears draft a wide receiver early in the 2021 draft.
Very few wide receivers had as good of seasons in 2020 as Elijah Moore. With 86 catches, 1,193 yards and 14 touchdowns in just eight games, he dominated against SEC defenses week after week this year. He is one of the most explosive receivers in the 2021 class, exploding with great speed as a deep target and shiftiness as a route runner. His value after the catch is among the best in the nation, showcasing tremendous lateral quickness and ball-carrier vision on tape.
The Bears could use as much help on offense as possible, and getting a dynamic weapon like Moore would go a long way to make their group of wide receivers that much more dangerous.
Round 3: Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
Were he to play in the 2020 season, there’s a strong chance we’d be talking a lot more about Paulson Adebo as one of the 2021 draft’s top cornerbacks.
With 27 pass deflections and 8 interceptions in his two seasons he played at Stanford, Adebo’s ball production reflects just how smart of a defensive back he is. He possesses impressive route-recognition ability and does a very good job of reading a quarterback’s eyes to diagnose progressions and jump routes. A fluid athlete who can change direction effectively, he has the pure athleticism needed to mirror routes against most wide receivers. He also has the physicality needed to compete at the catch point and fight in tight coverage.
Adebo has solid starting potential and could be a steal if he falls to the third round. With Desmond Trufant in tow, the Bears could slowly bring the rookie into the fold and insert him into the starting lineup in due time.
Round 5: Jamie Newman, QB, Wake Forest
It wouldn’t be a 2021 Bears mock draft with them taking a quarterback.
Heading into the 2020 season, many saw Jamie Newman as a potential first-round talent. While an opt-out of the year and a mixed bag at the Senior Bowl has hurt his draft stock, there’s no denying the raw talent he brings. His throws consistently have strong velocity behind them, and he has the arm strength needed to stretch the field in an effective manner.
Securing Newman on Day 3 allows the Bears to acquire a toolsy prospect at the quarterback position without having to reach for a player on Day 2. If they aren’t able to trade up for a quarterback in the first round, then waiting to take Newman would make a lot of sense for them.
Round 6: Christian Uphoff, S, Illinois State
Though Tashaun Gipson was brought back for another year, it certainly wouldn’t hurt for the Bears to draft some high-upside depth at the safety position.
Christian Uphoff is a lengthy and well-built safety prospect at 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds with a large catch radius and 10-inch hands. He plays with a quick mental trigger that allows him to diagnose route concepts and charge downhill against the run. He’s a reliable tackler whose physicality aids him as he breaks down and wraps up ball-carriers, and he delivers a mean pop upon contact. Having 13 pass deflections and 3 interceptions in his two seasons as a starter, the Peoria native uses his length and ball skills to his advantage at the catch point.
Though fairly lacking in range and not possessing high-end value in man coverage, Uphoff’s size, ball skills and physicality make him an intriguing late-round prospect for the Bears. At the very least, he offers a high ceiling on special teams.
Round 6: Jonathan Marshall, DL, Arkansas
The Bears have long-term questions at defensive line, so it would make all the sense in the world to take a shot on a physical specimen to develop for a season or two.
Leading all defensive linemen in the 2021 class with a 9.99 Relative Athletic Score, Jonathan Marshall killed it at his Pro Day. With a 4.88 40-yard dash and a 1.67 10-yard split at 6-foot-3 and 310 pounds, the athleticism is apparent in both his workouts and his tape. He accelerates well off the snap and has good initial burst in a vacuum. He also finished with 36 bench press reps, and his film reflects that pure strength in his frame. Marshall does a great job of utilizing the stab to keep linemen out of his frame, and his stout frame helps him with eating gaps in run support.
With just 1.5 sacks at the collegiate level and a combination of raw pad level and hand usage, Marshall is very much a developmental prospect. The tools with him are obvious, though, and his athletic upside gives him developmental potential up front. With both Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols in the last year of their respective contracts, a player like him could be a good late-round addition for the Bears.
Round 6: Kion Smith, OL, Fayetteville State
There’s no such thing as too much offensive line depth!
Kion Smith played left tackle at Division II Fayetteville State, but he projects best as a guard at the next level given his strengths and weaknesses. The 6-foot-5, 315-pounder has done a good job of continually bulking up and adding power to his frame, and his grip strength and high motor at the point of attack are apparent on tape. He showcases good footwork in pass protection and plays with nice agility when blocking on the move.
Not having a 2020 season, Smith will have some questions to answer with his game. His pad level can improve a bit, and his hand placement is usually somewhat inconsistent. He can play as a guard or a tackle and looks good on film, though, and with that versatility, he could be a solid late-round snag if the Bears are looking for offensive line depth.
Round 6: Briley Moore, TE, Kansas State
Jimmy Graham is still on the roster, but if he doesn’t return after the 2021 season, the Bears will need a long-term option at the ‘U’ tight end position.
Briley Moore brings a lot to like as a move tight end at the next level. He has impressive ball skills and body control that allows him to contort himself to square up to the ball and box out defenders on the 50-50 ball. He’s physical and plays big in tight windows, and he has the quickness off the snap needed to stretch the field vertically and serve as an effective seam threat. Moore also brings experience in an H-back role and does a good job of working across his body to flip his hips as a route runner.
Suffering a shoulder injury in 2019 that saw him miss all but one game, Moore has some durability concerns with frame is somewhat skinny for a 6-foot-4 tight end at 240 pounds. He doesn’t sink his hips incredibly well coming out of his breaks, and his play strength as a blocker isn’t anything worth writing home about. His athletic value and consistency in tight windows gives him upside as a pass-catcher, and as a team lacking a true No. 3 tight end, the Bears could take a chance on him as a depth option.
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