I can basically write whatever I want in this opening lede; people will read this regardless because it’s a mock draft.
Did my excuse of an opener prevent you from reading the rest of this article? No? Great! We’ve been doing some weekly Bears mock drafts for the 2022 NFL Draft here on Windy City Gridiron, and this time, I’ve decided to mix things up a bit.
For the first time since these weekly installments started up, I’m going to be projecting not one, but two trades the Bears would hypothetically make. Using the NFL Mock Draft Database for the best consensus board out there, I decided to run another 7-round simulation and stock up on picks in the process.
Full disclosure: I used the trade feature in the mock draft simulator, so none of the pick values are evaluated by me. If you feel like I gave up too much or received too much in any of these deals, take it up with the algorithm, not me!
Without further ado, let’s take a shot at another Bears 7-round mock draft.
Trade: Bears receive picks Nos. 50, 101, 157; Dolphins receive pick No. 39
Round 2 (via Dolphins): Derion Kendrick, CB, Georgia
You’re telling me I can trade back, get two more draft picks and still acquire a top cornerback in the class? Where do I sign?
Kendrick is a fluid athlete with loose hips, good deep speed and the functional athleticism needed to accelerate in a vacuum in more shallow zone coverage along the outside. He has solid length and showcases very good ball-tracking skills in the air. Given the current state of Chicago’s secondary, a player with Kendrick’s upside might be well worth considering in the second round.
Round 3: Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State
Some have proclaimed Christian Watson as a riser up draft boards who could go as early as late Round 1, while others view him as a mid-Day 3 pick at best. I decided to split the difference and take him early in the third round, which is about where he lines up on my personal board.
If you’re looking for physical potential at wide receiver, Watson’s your guy. He’s a legit 6-foot-4 but moves like someone smaller, showcasing nice fluidity across the middle of the field and 4.4 deep speed. He’s a bit raw getting out of his breaks, but he understands leverage well in his stems and has shown that he can get open. The Bears currently don’t have a big-bodied receiver who can stretch the field. Watson could be that guy.
Trade: Bears receive picks No. 110, 146; Giants receive pick No. 101
Round 4 (via Giants): Tyler Smith, OL, Tulsa
Last year, I made my love known for Teven Jenkins’ skillset leading up to the draft. This year, my award for “nasty blocker who just devours human beings” goes to Tulsa’s Tyler Smith.
Though he starred as a tackle in college, I project Smith best as a guard at the next level. He has super strong hands and impressive grip strength at the point of attack, and he has a sturdy anchor in pass protection. He’s 6-foot-6 and 332 pounds, but he does a good job of generating leverage with his pads and getting his weight underneath him. His mobility concerns kick him inside for me, but he’s a man with bad intentions who more than held his own facing Power 5 competition like Oklahoma State and Ohio State this past year.
Round 5 (via Giants): Zakoby McClain, LB, Auburn
Zakoby McClain projects more as a WILL than a MIKE to start alongside Roquan Smith, but his fit in a Matt Eberflus system makes him intriguing depth at this stage of the draft.
McClain is a three-year starter at Auburn who plays with sideline-to-sideline range and a mentality that sees him do just about anything to make the stop. His motor runs hot on every down, and his acceleration downhill is better than most linebackers in this class. He’s smaller for a linebacker, but he brings a level of speed and intensity that would at the very least translate very well on special teams.
Round 5 (via Texans): Thomas Booker, DL, Stanford
Versatility can be key to help a rookie get on the field early, and Thomas Booker has that in spades.
He projects best as a 3-technique, but he can line up just about anywhere along the defensive line and fill in nicely. His get-off is quick, his arms are long and he has nice raw power in his lower half. Booker showcases a nice rip move along the interior, and he has good situational awareness when the ball’s in the air, having deflected 8 passes in his career and possessing a pair of PAT blocks. The Bears would be smart to consider him as a rotational option for their defensive line on Day 3.
Round 5: J.T. Woods, S, Baylor
Jalen Pitre gets most of the hype coming out of the Baylor secondary, but I really don’t think the gap between him and J.T. Woods is as big as some make it out to be.
Woods is a high school track star with good length for a safety, long strides as a runner and fluid hips in coverage. He changes direction well in two-high shells and as a centerfielder in single-high, and he has the agility, straight-line speed and ball-tracking skills needed to break on a deep route along the sidelines to make a play. He may need to bulk up a little bit to withstand the NFL’s physicality, but his chops in coverage and athletic ability are tantalizing.
Round 5 (via Dolphins): Velus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee
I swear it’s only a coincidence that most of my picks in this mock draft played at the Senior Bowl.
When Velus Jones Jr. gets the ball in his hands, good things happen. He has great agility after the catch and creative vision as a ball-carrier that allows him to extend the play incredibly well. He has a low center of gravity, a powerful lower half and ample special teams value, scoring 2 touchdowns and averaging 28.1 yards per return as a kickoff specialist. Jones is a raw route runner who turns 25 in his rookie year, so he’s likely limited to a specific niche at the next level. If you can get him some manufactured touches on screens, though, he could make an NFL offense happy with their investment.
Round 6: Shamarious Gilmore, OG, Georgia State
Few, if any offensive linemen in the 2022 draft class are as battle-tested as Shamarious Gilmore.
A five-year starter at Georgia State, Gilmore is an effective down blocker who takes good angles on the move and has the raw power needed to generate movement in the run game. He plays with a nasty edge and is more than able to hold his own against speed-to-power as a pass protector, too. His athletic upside appears to be pretty limited, but Gilmore is an underrated prospect who should certainly push for a roster spot on many NFL teams.