The Bears have very clearly been in a “win-now” mode this offseason.
With Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy’s jobs likely on the line heading into the 2021 season, the current regime has presumably been looking for talent to help them get over the hump and take that next step into being a legitimate playoff team.
Given their cap situation, though, it has been difficult for them to do so. One can argue that they only really got better at quarterback with their Andy Dalton signing, and while that position is a major one to upgrade at, said upgrade may not prove to be a massive one. The loss of Kyle Fuller at cornerback projects as a huge loss for Chicago’s secondary, as well.
That’s why it’s evermore important the Bears hit on their picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. With a handful of holes to fill and a lack of considerable youth infusion on the roster, they will likely need to come away with a few rookie contributors if they want to improve this year. Luckily for Chicago, this year’s class has numerous prospects on all three days of the draft that could realistically contribute pretty early in their NFL careers.
When looking for “pro-ready” Day 3 prospects in this class, I went through and looked after players who were technically-sound — regardless of upside, prospects who have a good feel for the game and understand the fundamentals well.
Without further ado, here are five “pro-ready” prospects the Bears could target in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Before we begin: shoutout to Peter Van Der Mije for requesting a similar concept on my Patreon earlier in the week.
Miller Forristall, TE, Alabama
Rookie tight ends rarely make an impact in the stat sheet in the NFL, but Miller Forristall’s value comes beyond the numbers.
Forristall is one of the better blocking tight ends in the 2021 class. He does a good job of getting his weight underneath him, staying low at the point of attack to generate more power in his lower half. His strong anchor gives him good value as an extra pass protector, and his body control allows him to roll his hips through contact and seal off defenders in the run game. Forristall is more than just a typical blocking tight end, though; he’s got some athletic tools to work with. He showcases good fluidity on the seam and has enough speed needed to stretch the field vertically. He also offers good length at 6-foot-5 and has added weight to a now-244-pound frame.
Injuries have been an issue for Forristall, who missed all but three games in 2017 with a knee and played in just eight games in 2019 due to injury. His collegiate production wasn’t anything to write home about, and his physicality at the catch point is just okay. While he likely won’t be an early-round pick with these concerns, Forristall is still a quality tight end option with alignment versatility any time after Round 5, which could interest the depth-needy Bears.
Drake Jackson, C, Kentucky
The Bears saw quality play out of Sam Mustipher in 2020, but seeing as though he’s still fairly unproven, they could aim to bring in some competition through the draft.
A four-year starter who graduated with a master’s degree in December, Drake Jackson solidified himself as the anchor for Kentucky’s offensive line over the course of his collegiate career. He has a compact frame that naturally allows him to win consistently with leverage and keep his pads low. Jackson brings tremendous power to the table on film, packing a mean punch at the point of attack and generating the drive in his anchor needed to churn his legs and move defenders upon contact. His footwork in pass protection is also solid: his precision in his angles make it easier for him to neutralize quicker interior defenders and stunting edge rushers.
Jackson is undersized for an offensive lineman, measuring in at 293 pounds and a hair under 6-foot-2. His athletic ability — or lack, thereof — limits his upside in space and in pass protection. Though he doesn’t stand out in terms of physical upside, Jackson is still a sound and nasty blocker who could be good value in Rounds 5 or 6.
Osa Odighizuwa, DL, UCLA
The Bears lost Roy Robertson-Harris, Brent Urban and John Jenkins in free agency, and they have both Akiem Hicks and Bilal Nichols set to hit the open market next offseason. With such long-term instability up front, Chicago could look for depth along the defensive line in this year’s draft.
One of the top performers at this year’s Senior Bowl, Osa Odighizuwa can line up just about anywhere along the defensive line. He has experience rushing off the edge in a stand-up role, as well as a 1-, 3-, and 5-technique defensive lineman. He accelerates well off the snap and showcases impressive burst when closing in on defenders. Odighizuwa changes direction well in the open field and is a legitimate threat when utilized on stunts. His compact frame allows him to get his pads low easily, and he consistently does a good job of winning the leverage battle at the point of attack. He rushes with a high motor and showcases good functional balance when locked up with opponents.
He’s a tweener at 6-foot-1 1⁄2 and 282 pounds — that lack of length could affect his draft stock in a negative manner. He can also get a bit thicker in his lower half, especially if teams plan on keeping him inside at the next level. Odighizuwa has excelled against top competition, though, and with his versatility and skill set, he could be a strong 3-technique depth option for the Bears around the fifth round.
Wyatt Hubert, EDGE, Kansas State
The Bears used a 2021 fourth-round pick to trade up for Trevis Gipson last year, and they also signed Jeremiah Attaochu in free agency. They don’t have a massive need for depth at the edge rusher position, but if they’re looking for some, then Wyatt Hubert could be a steal late in the draft.
A productive collegiate pass-rusher, Hubert finished with 20 sacks and 33 tackles for a loss in three seasons at Kansas State. He uses his hands well at the line of scrimmage and offers a diverse arsenal of hand techniques, including a strong jab and a deadly arm-over. He’s a slippery rusher who does a great job of dipping his hips when turning the corner and taking sharp angles in pursuit on the speed rush. Hubert also does a great job of getting his pads low and maintaining a low center of gravity at the point of attack, making it easier for him to set the edge against the run.
Hubert is an interesting case: though he’s flexible off the edge, he isn’t necessarily fast. He doesn’t have fantastic burst in his first step, and his athletic ability in the open field isn’t fantastic for his position. Plus, at a little under 6-foot-3 and 258 pounds, he doesn’t have tremendous length as an edge rusher, either. These concerns could drop him to Rounds 6 or 7, but if the Bears want a polished pass-rushing depth piece, Hubert could fit that bill.
Camryn Bynum, CB, California
The Bears now have a hole at cornerback alongside Jaylon Johnson, and while Desmond Trufant is a solid replacement for cheap, the team could still look to draft a long-term fit in their secondary.
Camryn Bynum finishes his collegiate career with 28 pass deflections and 6 interceptions to his name. A major part of his ball production comes from his sharp instincts, as he’s quick to diagnose route concepts and can read the hips of an opposing wide receiver very well. A strong work ethic in the film room is apparent in how he’s able to use situational awareness to determine what plays an offense could run. Bynum offers solid fluidity coming out of his breaks, and he has good footwork in a vacuum, especially in press coverage, where his 6-foot, 196-pound frame is also of much help. He’s also a reliable tackler who takes precise angles in pursuit and plays with a high motor in run support.
The issue with Bynum is a lack of top-notch athletic ability. His deep speed is pretty average, and he can struggle against crisper boundary receivers who can change direction on a dime. This could limit his draft stock to purely being a Day 3 talent, but if the Bears want a sound cornerback who could push for a starting position in time, Bynum could be an intriguing option in Rounds 5 or 6 if they haven’t already drafted a cornerback to that point.
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 400 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.