In every NFL Draft, there seem to be prospects who fall out of Round 1 that surprise people.
Last year, players like Teven Jenkins, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Azeez Ojulari all fell further than the consensus had expected them to. In 2020, guys like Kristian Fulton, Josh Jones and A.J. Epenesa slipped down a considerable amount. As much as many football fans tend to say “there’s no chance Player X is available that late”, the truth is that many teams evaluate players differently from both other teams and from the media.
The Bears find themselves
To remove my own evaluational biases from what determines a “top prospect”, I used the NFL Mock Draft Database consensus big board to evaluate which players are currently viewed as likely first-round picks. The grades I have on each of these prospects vary, but I do acknowledge that a lot of other rankings and mock drafts have them as Round 1 talents.
That said, here are 6 heralded prospects who could fall into the Bears’ laps in Round 2.
Clemson CB Andrew Booth Jr.
Not everybody has soured on Andrew Booth Jr., but with a quad injury that has required surgery and forced him to miss the Combine and Clemson’s Pro Day, some of the heat behind his stock has fallen a bit.
That said, Booth’s tape is still very impressive and looks the part of a future high-end starter in the NFL. His ball skills are among the best in the class, as he does a great job of squaring up to the ball and effectively high-pointing to intercept or deflect passes. He is a fluid athlete who changes direction well and has the deep speed needed to defend vertical route concepts at the next level. Plus, he’s an above-average tackler who plays with good play strength and a willingness to engage in contact.
Booth projects best on the boundary, but he’s athletic enough to kick to the field-side if the Bears were to have a chance to take him. If his minor injury drops his stock a bit, he could very well be worth the investment in the second round.
Texas A&M OG Kenyon Green
Prospect fatigue is one of my least favorite things about the NFL Draft. Too often, talented prospects see their stock fall simply because they’ve been good for a while and aren’t “flashy” enough. That appears to be what’s happening with Kenyon Green.
There’s really no other explanation for why a two-time consensus All-American with dominant tape and no proven off-the-field concerns like Green has slipped down boards a bit. He has well-proportioned power that allows him to generate force in his strikes and anchor down at the point of attack. His pad level and weight distribution is very good, and he’s also an explosive athlete off the snap with good quickness in a vacuum.
Is Green the flashiest prospect out there or the most athletic lineman? Not necessarily, but he’s a damn good football player. A debate can be made between him and Zion Johnson to being the top guard in the class, but if Johnson goes Round 1 and Green doesn’t, the Bears would be smart to pursue him on Day 2.
Georgia DL Devonte Wyatt
It remains likely Devonte Wyatt is a first-round pick. If teams make the mistake of diminishing the value of interior defensive linemen or forgetting him when watching Travon Walker and Jordan Davis, a team like the Bears could pounce on their errors.
Wyatt was a first-team All-SEC and a second-team All-American for a Georgia defense that led its team to a national championship. His first step is tremendous on tape and reflects every bit of the 4.77 40-yard dash and 1.6 10-yard split he ran at 304 pounds. His mobility in space gives him more value as a backside defender and as a pass-rusher than the average defensive tackle. When you combine those athletic tools with his good pad level and his red-hot motor, you have a potential difference-maker at the 3-technique alignment.
He lacks a bit in size and length for his position, but Wyatt’s three-down value could make him a dangerous threat in the pros. The Bears have bigger needs on offense, but Matt Eberflus clearly values 3-techs in his scheme, and Wyatt could be great value if he’s available in the second round.
Penn State WR Jahan Dotson
There are plenty of wide receivers with Round 1 potential in the 2022 draft. If risers like Christian Watson or Skyy Moore overtake Jahan Dotson — a talented weapon who doesn’t have the size of Watson, the momentum of Moore and had a disappointing shuttle time — then some team could get a legit weapon in the form of the Penn State star.
Dotson is coming off of a first-team All-Big Ten season, and watching him on tape shows just how impressive he can be at times. He’s a precise route runner who sinks his hips into his cuts and explodes well laterally, and he has the lateral mobility and vision needed to extend the play after the catch. For a receiver who’s short than 6 feet tall, his ability to adjust mid-air and make circus catches in contested situations is simply fantastic. He’s also a 4.43 athlete whose deep speed shown at the Combine translates to film.
An inside-outside weapon with versatility and a pretty high floor at the NFL level, Dotson could be an immediate contributor in a WR2 role for a team like the Bears. Should he fall out of Round 1, he should certainly be in the mix for Chicago on Day 2.
Arkansas WR Treylon Burks
If Treylon Burks falls out of Round 1, it would be a tragedy, but it would also be due to his Combine performance.
Was he bad? Not necessarily, but as a 4.55 runner with shuttle and 3-cone drills both below the 25th percentile among receivers, he didn’t do much to help his stock, either. At the end of the day, though, Burks’ tape is among the best in the class at the wide receiver position. He is a physical specimen at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds with long arms and a thick frame that allows him to both box out defenders at the catch point and run through defenders after the catch. His mobility and creativity in space have drawn comparisons to 49ers All-Pro Deebo Samuel, and it’s hard to think Burks’ ceiling isn’t somewhat similar.
What Burks lacks in finesse as a route runner or flashy Combine numbers, he more than makes up for with elite physical attributes and top-notch versatility. He’s a fun chess piece of a weapon whom the Bears could have a lot of fun with if he somehow falls out of Round 1.
Florida CB Kaiir Elam
The same case of prospect fatigue that hit Kenyon Green has arguably also hit Kaiir Elam.
From the looks of things, there are few reasons Elam shouldn’t go Round 1. He’s an accomplished SEC cornerback who has ranged from solid to great at various points of his career, he’s a tall corner with a 6-foot-3 wingspan, a 4.39 40-yard dash and a combination of ball skills in the air and lateral mobility that should see him translate well at the next level.
He arguably didn’t build as much upon a strong 2020 season as some might hope, but Elam is still a gifted cornerback with the physical tools needed to succeed. He’s pretty scheme versatile and can play either outside cornerback spot, and if the Bears want to invest in the secondary early, he could be a player worth considering.
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