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2024 Bears mock draft 1.0: Starting over

Who else but WCG’s lead draft analyst to bring out a two-part mock draft series for the Bears’ early 2024 draft hopes?

Nebraska v Colorado Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

It’s September, and it’s already time for a Bears mock draft time.

As someone who analyzes the draft and spends all year living and breathing this type of content, I’m thrilled. As a Bears fan and someone who also writes about the team and wants to be covering a successful team, I’m utterly numb.

Matt Eberflus seems to have little control over how his players execute their assignments, regardless of what side of the ball they’re on. With how poorly he’s called plays since moving over from the Packers, offensive coordinator Luke Getsy appears to be undertaking some double secret probation funky chicken espionage type of thing. I don’t know, man; I’m Hulk Hogan.

The particular problem with Chicago’s slow start from a draft perspective is that quarterback Justin Fields has struggled immensely through his first two starts. There’s still a whole season left for him to turn things around, but if he doesn’t start correcting his flaws — pocket presence, reading the field, anticipating his receivers open — then his future as Chicago’s franchise quarterback will look a lot like my love life: bleak.

On Thursday, I’ll look at what a super early mock draft would look like if the Bears choose to keep Fields as their quarterback for at least the 2024 season. For now, though, it’s time to address the doomsday scenario that seems to have become a stronger possibility over the last two weeks...

Having to draft a new quarterback.

For reference, I used Pro Football Network’s odds to determine the order, which has the Bears pick at No. 3 (via Carolina) and No. 4.

Projected trade

Falcons receive: QB Justin Fields, 2025 seventh-round pick

Bears receive: 2025 third-round pick

Is Desmond Ridder the guy in Atlanta? The Falcons are off to a 2-0 start, but time will tell whether or not they view Ridder as a serious long-term quarterback option.

The chance to get Fields, a Georgia native who fits Arthur Smith’s system and whose Falcons jerseys would sell like gangbusters, could be enticing to them given his lessened trade value. Give Fields a tryout year as the starter behind a good offensive line and an offense with the likes of Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts and Drake London. It’s worth considering.

The first two picks both went to the Cardinals, who selected USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the first pick. They traded out of the No. 2 pick with the Raiders, who moved up from the No. 9 pick for North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.

Round 1: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

If you keep the third and fourth picks, whichever player you take where is just a matter of semantics. In this case, you kick your draft off with one of the best wide receiver prospects to enter the draft in the last turn of the century.

Harrison is Ja’Marr Chase levels of good coming out. He’s arguably even Julio Jones levels of good coming out, and while he might not be quite at Calvin Johnson’s level, he’s pretty damn close. He’s a massive receiver who combines a large catch radius and great hands with impressive deep speed and a super sharp route-running acumen in his footwork, explosiveness out of bursts, physicality and spatial awareness. Tell me that Marvin Harrison Jr., DJ Moore and a re-signed Darnell Mooney doesn’t sound like a tremendous wide receiver trio. You can’t.

Round 1 (via Panthers): Shedeur Sanders, QB, Colorado

With Caleb Williams and Drake Maye gone, it becomes a matter of which quarterback from the loaded 2024 draft class to take at No. 4.

Instead, I’m going to describe why I took Sanders with this selection. He’s more consistently accurate and a better decision-maker than Quinn Ewers. He has better pocket presence and abilities under pressure than Bo Nix. Michael Penix Jr. is an older prospect with four season-ending injuries to his name, so you can’t take him in the top 5.

The only quarterback I battled with here is J.J. McCarthy, who arguably has a better arm and is more athletic than Sanders. That said, Sanders’ tremendous poise, pocket awareness, decisiveness with the football and accuracy is top-notch. McCarthy has shown plenty of promise through these first few games, but as has Sanders against better competition.

That said, Shedeur Sanders excels at the things Justin Fields struggles with. He doesn’t have an elite arm like Williams or Maye or blazing speed like Fields, but Sanders is a damn good quarterback with an alpha mentality.

Round 2: Bralen Trice, EDGE, Washington

Now that the Bears have made two massive investments towards their offense, it’s time to help shore up that defensive line.

The hope is here that you make some moves in free agency, but you’ll still want to draft an edge rusher with a class that has the top-end talent this one has. Trice is a powerful edge rusher who wins with a variety of moves at the point of attack, very good power in both his hands and his anchor, ideal weight distribution and a red-hot motor. He projects as a solid starter who doesn’t have absurd athletic traits, but he more than holds his own in terms of first-step quickness. The drop-off at edge rusher is massive outside of the top 50 picks, so the Bears get away with one of the better defensive ends in the nation here.

Round 3: Zach Frazier, C, West Virginia

Cody Whitehair has got to go! It’s time for the Bears to find a new anchor for their offensive line, and late Round 2/early Round 3 seems like the sweet spot for centers in the draft nowadays.

I broke down Frazier in an article previewing 2024 draft centers back in June. I had this to say about the West Virginia center:

Frazier was a four-time high school state wrestling champion in high school, and that background shows up in spades in his tape as a center for West Virginia. Winning often with technique and strength, Frazier is a leverage master who consistently wins as the lower man in the trenches. His weight distribution and balance is fantastic, and his strike timing and placement allow him to consistently lock out defensive tackles from his chest. He’s an intelligent player with good spatial awareness who executes his alignments consistently. Though his athletic upside is rather average, he has tremendous tape and has the tools to be a long-term starter in the NFL.

Round 4: Christian Mahogany, OG, Boston College

As of this writing, the Bears’ options at guard are Teven Jenkins, a talented player who’s struggled heavily with injuries, and Nate Davis, who first and foremost is dealing with a death in the family. What happens on the field remains to be seen with him, but I wish him and his family all the best.

Nonetheless, with this uncertainty at guard — and even just from a standpoint of having offensive line depth — it might not be a bad idea to draft one in 2024. Mahogany is a 333-pound behemoth with a mean streak, very good pad level, nice spatial awareness and impressive athleticism for his size. A lack of perceived length, a torn ACL in 2022 and a lack of center-tackle versatility could hurt his stock a bit, but he could very well end up developing into a starting guard on either side in the NFL.

Round 4 (via Eagles): Darius Robinson, DT, Missouri

Another addition to the Bears’ defensive line certainly wouldn’t hurt, especially when he’s as toolsy as Robinson is.

The 6-foot-5, 295-pounder offers great length and defensive versatility, as he can and has lined up just about wherever along the defensive line. However, it’s at 3-technique where his explosive first step, raw power at the line of scrimmage and high motor could shine best at the next level. Like Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens, Robinson is raw in terms of his pad level and pass-rushing arsenal, but the physical tools are there for him to be worth taking a shot on here. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if Robinson sees a Draft Day rise similar to that of Pickens because of his upside.

Round 5: Jack Howell, S, Colorado State

The Bears desperately need safety depth behind Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker, and you might’ve seen a good late-round option for them in the barnburner Colorado-Colorado State matchup last weekend.

Howell, who I repeat is NOT the safety that injured Travis Hunter, had 6 tackles in that game last Saturday. His tape from last season is encouraging, as he’s an intelligent and aggressive defender who can play either safety spot, in the nickel or in the box. He reads route concepts well and is quick to act upon his diagnoses, and once he does, his physicality and willingness to downhill tackle is on full display. Though not the rangiest defensive back out there, Howell would be a special teams grinder and someone who could at least hold his own should one of Chicago’s safeties go down due to injury.