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D.J. Moore’s Arrival to the Chicago Bears Means a Mock Offseason 2.0

I expected some form of trade to happen at wide receiver for the Bears. Just not in the form of star wideout D.J. Moore. Naturally this calls for a re-adjustment of plans on my part.

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

On Friday, I published my Odyssey on the Chicago Bears’ upcoming off-season with a full mockup from free agency through the draft. For reference — and good laughs if wanted — you can click on that here. I still plan on following up with that exercise as moves finally come in.

Especially since on the same exact day, the Chicago Bears reached an agreement for a blockbuster deal with the Carolina Panthers involving their first overall pick. The single best part of that deal arrives in the form of one wide receiver, D.J. Moore. The deal is not official until March 15th per the regulations within the current Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Still, he upgrades that unit immediately. And it changes my plans completely.

Let’s compare my proposal to the actual deal itself

I am still astonished how close the proposal came to the final agreement. In either case, it presents the rare “win/win” scenario for both clubs involved. The Chicago Bears get their prime building block, and premium draft picks up to the year 2025. The Carolina Panthers guarantee themselves first dibs on any one quarterback they love most. In that latter scenario, no price is ever too rich. The quarterback position in football is the single most important in all team sports.

My proposal is listed below.

  1. Carolina’s 2023 (9th overall) and 2024 1st round picks
  2. Carolina’s own 2023 2nd round pick (40th overall)
  3. Carolina’s 2024 3rd-round pick
  4. Defensive End Brian Burns
  5. Carolina’s 2025 2nd round pick

And here is the actual deal itself.

  1. Carolina’s 2023 (9th overall) and 2024 1st round picks
  2. Carolina’s 2023 2nd round pick (61st overall, originally from SF)
  3. Wide Receiver D.J. Moore
  4. Carolina’s 2025 2nd round pick

The real differences came with the Panthers retaining their original 2nd rounder, 40th overall, instead of their pick gained from the Christain McCaffrey trade. Also, they are not sending young star defensive end Brian Burns, and instead are sending their young star wide receiver in D.J. Moore. The latter of which I did not think was available at all. Lastly, they’re holding onto their 2024 3rd rounder for now.

Considering the Bears got a young star at receiver with such a weak market expected in free agency, I like the real deal better than my own. I couldn’t care less about getting the lower of the two second rounders from the Panthers. Ditto with the 2024 third rounder. After having a day to think about it, the extra 3rd rounder, which is valued as a 4th for 2023 per various grading scales, is a moot point.

The 2023 off-season stacks up with more “blue” talent at defensive line and especially at defensive end as opposed to wide receiver. I intend to fix the anchor (left), and freak (right) ends with a combination of signings and draft picks. And you’ll see more of that later in this article.

Per our own Greg Gabriel, the inclusion of D.J. Moore was a mandate by Bears GM Ryan Poles for this deal to be locked up. That is absolutely huge.

I’ll never stop wondering if that is ultimately why any potential negotiation with the Indianapolis Colts fell apart. They were the favorite amongst bettors and fans. I suspected through my own writings and discussions Colts GM Chris Ballard would be reluctant to let go of his hand picked studs in addition to multiple years worth of premium draft picks. Turns out that could be the case here. Thus, this is why I picked the Panthers myself in my proposed trade. We may never truly know.

The arrival of D.J. Moore is a gift from the Football Gods (and Lovie Smith) as well as the beginning of a shakeup to plans at receiver

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve had the longstanding belief the Bears’ biggest move at wide receiver would come in the form of a trade. Originally I selected Courtland Sutton of the Denver Broncos based on a variety of factors, including schematic fit, availability, and projected growth — or re-establishment — with an actual answer at quarterback in the form of Justin Fields.

Denver’s quarterback issues have been almost as bad as we’ve seen with the Carolina Panthers. I also double dipped and selected Jordan Addison as my WR1 for the 2023 class at 9th overall. The Bears still need to be aggressive and stack as many credible weapons as possible.

Then we actually see the Bears get a vastly superior player to anyone available for 2023 in the form of former Panthers receiver D.J. Moore. This is where I happily admit to being wrong and toss my original strategy into the dumpster. Ron Swanson style.

Truly, I can’t get over how much D.J. Moore changes the outlook at wide receiver. He fits exactly what they’ve been missing for the past couple seasons. He is a young dominant player who can win singular matchups with his elite combination of length, explosiveness, speed, and crisp route running. A player who can bust zone coverage easily and feasts within the intermediate range. That intermediate range of which Justin Fields thrives at attacking - when he’s actually able to go on the attack.

This is all despite having the worst batch of quarterbacks lobbing him wounded ducks for the past few seasons. Just ask Robert Schmitz, who went through the pain of watching the All-22 film in his various threads. And yet Matt Rhule thought his product was better than what Justin Fields could provide...

D.J. Moore slots in as the definitive “F” in the current trio of young veteran receivers under contract for the Bears.

  • D.J. Moore - “F”
  • Chase Claypool - “X”
  • Darnell Mooney - “Z” (or slot)

Last season we saw offensive coordinator Luke Getsy try to get Darnell Mooney schemed open as much as possible from both the “F” and “Z.” It just didn’t happen as defensive coordinators league wide had no respect for anyone else in the Bears’ receiving corps. There were no difference makers or perceived threats at all.

Of course, Darnell Mooney would suffer a season ending injury of his own. Even Chase Claypool — who I still like as a player — struggled early on. Then, once he got into a groove with Justin Fields, he suffered a knee injury of his own. Nobody else was able to do much of anything.

That is no longer going to be an issue. D.J. Moore, as Ryan Poles described to Greg Gabriel in the article cited earlier, fits the description of a “bigger Darnell Mooney” who can win his route at the snap of the ball. He’s going to command a lot of attention from opposing secondaries. And he’ll still bust those brackets as he did in Carolina. Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool, who are capable players in their own ways, will have far more opportunities to eat. Oh, and D.J. is a vicious blocker on the boundary as well.

There is still plenty of room for improvement within their receiving corps. The trio of Moore, Mooney, and Claypool is nothing to sneeze at, either. Young, fast, explosive, and a trio built with the long-term in mind. It’s a good foundation to start stacking those blue chips on the table, which is what I’ll focus on from this point forward.

I’ll keep everything else the same between the D-line, O-line, and Linebacker. The receiving corps will see a substantial change in how I foresee the remaining construction taking place. They no longer need to push for any big signings or another trade from this point forward. We will likely see a receiver taken during the second round at the earliest. Still, expect perhaps one to two smaller sized deals at receiver.

The two players who make the most sense in that line of thinking are Mecole Hardman and Darius Slayton. Hardman offers better value in terms of what he’s accomplished on special teams. Slayton is the better weapon on offense. Theoretically, I could sign both to fill the back half of the depth chart. I intend to pick a receiver pretty early, though. I’m not shying away from my commitment to stack as many weapons as possible.

If I had to pick just one, I’m opting for Darius Slayton. His familiarity with passing game coordinator and receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and dynamic capabilities from the slot are just too good to pass up. Darnell Mooney’s recovery from his injury plays a big factor behind this decision as well. Plus, I’ll have an established receiving corps that’s good enough to not force a rookie into a role they may not be ready for quite yet.

Before the draft, here’s what the primary depth chart at receiver looks.

  • D.J. Moore
  • Chase Claypool
  • Darnell Mooney
  • Darius Slayton
  • Equanimeous St. Brown
  • Velus Jones Jr.

I’ve removed N’Keal Harry from my previous mock to make room for Darius Slayton.

That current bunch features a nice combination of speed, length, explosiveness, and home run ability. They’re also all fairly young. Equanimeous St. Brown is the oldest at 26 years old and will turn 27 once the season starts. Darius Slayton is 26, and D.J. Moore will turn 26 in April. There’s so much speed in this group that the slowest 40 time is Equanameous St. Brown at a 4.48. The play-making ability is real with these players. With plenty of room to add more.

I’m turning my attention towards the draft for further help at receiver. The goal will be to add as much competition and long-term answers behind D.J. Moore that I can muster. Equip Justin Fields with a nuclear arsenal of weaponry.

Onto the revised mock draft and how to fix the issue at Edge

SPORTS-FBN-WIEDERER-COLUMN-TB John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

As I mentioned, the arrival of D.J. Moore shakes up my plans for the draft significantly. Particularly when it comes to the first two days. The depth at edge is outstanding, and the overall pool of talent at receiver looks better on day two as opposed to day one. However, after several attempts at using mock simulators, I really liked how my grades and targets for rounds three and onward stacked in my original article. I’m going to change up my players for the first two rounds as a result.

Here is how my original mock draft looked.

  • 1st round, 9th overall (via CAR) - Jordan Addison, WR, USC
  • 2nd round, 40th overall (via CAR) - Drew Sanders, LB, Arkansas
  • 2nd round, 53rd overall (via BAL) - Steve Avila, LG, TCU
  • 3rd round, 64th overall - Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa
  • 4th round, 103rd overall - (Traded to DEN for Courtland Sutton in original mock)
  • 4th round, 133rd overall (via PHI) - Adetomiwa Adebawore, DT, Northwestern
  • 5th round, 137th overall - Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton
  • 5th round, 159th overall (via BAL) - Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
  • 7th round, 220th overall - Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
  • 7th round, 258th overall (comp) - Mark Evans II, C, Arkansas Pine-Bluff

Now we get to factor in the real picks at the Bears’ disposal. I’m shaking up my picks, while keeping a few of the names from my previous mock. Plus, I have my original 4th rounder back. Here’s the revised mock without any hypothetical trades and utilizing a variety of mock simulators along with my own notes.

I emboldened the players who are new within attempt number two. Most of my day three guys will remain the same.

  • 1st round, 9th overall (via CAR) - Tyree Wilson, EDGE, Texas Tech
  • 2nd round, 53rd overall (via BAL) - Steve Avila, LG, TCU
  • 2nd round, 61st overall (via SF) - Daiyan Henley, LB, Washington State
  • 3rd round, 64th overall - Nathaniel Dell, WR, Houston
  • 4th round, 103rd overall - Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson, CB, TCU
  • 4th round, 133rd overall (via PHI) - Adetomiwa Adebawore, DT, Northwestern
  • 5th round, 137th overall - Andrei Iosivas, WR, Princeton
  • 5th round, 159th overall (via BAL) - Darius Rush, CB, South Carolina
  • 7th round, 220th overall - Dorian Thompson-Robinson, QB, UCLA
  • 7th round, 258th overall (comp) - Will Mallory, TE, Miami

I’ll bring up an issue and major discrepancy I had with trade simulators I’ve used. On several occasions, I saw Tyree Wilson being picked over Will Anderson. That will absolutely not be happening.

Realistically I see Tyree Wilson falling to 9th overall, which is the perfect player for me to pick at ninth overall. His combination of destructive capabilities, bend, athleticism, and length fits precisely what Matt Eberflus seeks in his ends. A revamped D-line featuring the likes of Dre’Mont Jones, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Tyree Wilson is a great start. Plenty of potential and nightmarish athleticism for offensive lines to contend with.

Now I’ll break these picks down individually.

Tyree Wilson fills the big hole as the freak defensive end for the long-term picture. Very few tackles in all of collegiate football could ever counter his combination of length, tenacity, and burst when he starts bending around the edge. I’ll be extremely bold here and suggest plenty of his game reminds me a little of Julius Peppers.

Steve Avila is the first name I keep. He’s a great fit for what the Bears seek along the O-line despite being on the heavier side. And he played fairly well during the Senior Bowl on Luke Getsy’s American squad.

Daiyan Henley takes care of the void at “Will” LB. He’ll need to bulk up a little from his current listed weight of 225lbs. However, he brings a massive amount of proven production and speed at a 4.54 with a 1.55 10-yard split. You pair that with his sharp instincts, and he’s an excellent phenom for Matt Eberflus, along with Dave Borgonzi, to mold into a future stud at “Will.”

Nathaniel “Tank” Dell had himself an impressive week at Mobile during the Senior Bowl and really flashed as a weapon during his final season at Houston. He’s almost impossible to cover once he wins his rep from the line of scrimmage. He’s too shifty and fast with a scrappy attitude once challenged physically. I don’t think his size will be an issue at all.

Tre’Vius Hodges-Tomlinson had an excellent performance at the combine and fits the mold as to what Chicago asks their nickels to do in coverage. If he can just knock off his tendency to get overly grabby past five yards in coverage, he’s a great piece to stock on the shelves within the secondary.

Adetomiwa Adebawore sticks around as my pick to develop into a future force of nature at 3-tech. That 4.49 speed and compact 6’2” frame with 282lbs of muscle at the 3-tech position... goodness.

Andrei Iosivas is another familiar face who pencils in as a guy to carve a role on special teams as he fines his craft at receiver.

Darius Rush returns as the super fast corner who could compete with THT at Nickel.

Dorian Thompson-Robinson is the developmental player at quarterback I like the most to stash behind Justin Fields and Trevor Siemian.

Will Mallory has an intriguing combination of size to go with speed and a nice catching radius. “The U” has always been a quality factory for future NFL players at tight end.

There is one trade scenario I will disclose in this portion. If Jaxon Smith-Njigba falls far enough to where a move up from the later second round wouldn’t be overly expensive, I’m pulling the trigger. He’s still not worth considering at 9th overall, in my personal opinion, and lengthy description from my previous article. However, he’s also the player I would realistically trade up for if he falls into the late first to early second range. Stranger things have happened, and bigger names have fallen in years past.

Now, I did mention I also have changed up my plans for how to address defensive end for the Chicago Bears. At the same time, I really don’t see a ton of players I’d like to throw serious cash at. Brian Burns was my “dream” scenario at end. I am willing to wait and see if more premium players are available via the trade market. Then, of course, there could be major cuts following the draft.

That being said, a veteran like Yannick Ngakoue is a surefire starter with great production regardless of where he’s played in his NFL career. He’s still just 28 and has a solid amount of tread left on his tires. His last contract was at 2-years and $26M when he originally signed with the Las Vegas Raiders in 2021. I’ll up his contract to 3-years and $41M, or $13.6M per season. His availability and capability are worth a slight pay raise.

Frank Clark presents a decent alternative to Yannick Ngakoue if a bit older. However, his production did dip during his last couple seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. I’m not considering any major money towards Clark if I can land Ngakoue.

Time will tell what happens next

SPORTS-FBN-BEARS-STADIUM-MAYOR-TB John J. Kim/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

We are within 24 hours of commencing the NFL’s official negotiation period for free agency. Some major deals have already been announced - including Da’Ron Payne’s insane 4-year $90M deal to stay with the Washington Commanders. Things should be getting hot shortly in Chicago. That’s not the St. Patty’s drinks speaking, either.

Between both of my articles, I feel it’s safe to say we will see huge expenditures at DT and O-line within the first few weeks of free agency for Chicago. Considering the acquisition of D.J. Moore frees themselves up to fix the trenches, I’m a firm believer that a long term deal at DT and RT will be the first pair of moves announced. My picks remain with Dre’Mont Jones and Mike McGlinchey.

Anything can and will happen. All we can do now is sit back, grab the necessities, and enjoy the fireworks. And maybe laugh as we witness Aaron Rodger’s potential departure from the Green Bay Packers.