It’s September, and it’s already Chicago 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 Wednesday, I took a look at what a scenario could look like in which the Bears moved on from Justin Fields this offseason. In a more upbeat scenario, let’s say he does turn a corner and, even if it doesn’t necessarily turn into wins yet, Chicago keeps him for another year at least. What could a mock draft look like if the Bears keep Fields?
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. The first two picks were both made by the Cardinals, who selected USC quarterback Caleb Williams and Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. with back-to-back picks.
Commanders receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 3)
Bears receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 9), 2024 second-round pick (No. 41), 2025 first-round pick
Washington jumps teams like the Raiders and Titans — two teams would might be willing to take a quarterback in Round 1 — and secures Drake Maye with the No. 3 overall pick. Chicago gets back a nice haul that would see them hold two picks each in the first two rounds of the 2024 draft, as well as two picks each in the first two rounds of the 2025 draft.
Patriots receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 9)
Bears receive: 2024 first-round pick (No. 15), 2024 second-round pick (No. 47)
A double trade back? Don’t mind if I do? The Bears now have five top-50 picks in the 2024 draft after the Patriots trade up for Ohio State wide receiver Emeka Egbuka. Is this fairly unrealistic? Maybe, but the Bears are playing like garbage right now. Let me have some fun!
In this scenario, the Bears have a ton of premier draft capital to retool their roster through the 2024 draft. And, if Fields puts together yet another stinker in the 2024 season, they’d have four picks in the first two rounds to work with, giving them plenty of flexibility to find a quarterback in the 2025 draft (looking at you, Drew Allar from Penn State).
Round 1: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State
This pick makes too much sense, seeing as though the Bears have a major need at edge rusher, and Verse is the best edge rusher in the 2024 draft.
Breaking out with 9 sacks and 17 tackles for a loss in 12 games for Florida State last year, Verse brings the combination of athleticism and hand usage that gives him tremendous upside as a pass-rusher at the NFL level. He’s quick off the ball, flexible turning the corner and has a deep arsenal of swipes, shucks, rips and swims to get into the backfield. His pad level seems to have improved in 2023, too, all combining to make him someone with perennial Pro Bowl potential.
Round 1 (via Commanders, projected trade): Jer’Zhan Newton, DT, Illinois
If the Bears end up trading back twice, acquiring additional draft capital and still land a dominant 3-technique like Newton, I’ll be doing cartwheels.
Newton has the athleticism, power and technique needed to be a game-wrecker at the NFL level. His first-step quickness is tremendous, his agility on stunts is impressive, and he offers quick and active hands that allow him to win with finesse near the line of scrimmage. His pad level is impressive, as his awareness against the run. He’s a stack-and-shed machine who’s just simply a better technician than the opposition. Newton may be a bit smaller at 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds, but he’s a high-floor, high-ceiling prospect who would instantly legitimize Chicago’s defensive front.
Round 2: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State
Chase Claypool isn’t working out for the Bears, so why not replace him with a different big-bodied receiver?
Coleman is a 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver who uses every bit of his size. He’s a sure-handed weapon with ideal physicality at the catch point and a massive catch radius. However, he’s more than just your average jump-ball, big-bodied wide out; he’s a creative improviser on broken plays and understands soft spots against zone well. Plus, he’s a very good blocker along the perimeter, which should make Bears fans in particular very happy! He won’t wow you as a route runner since his height makes it tougher for him to sink his hips into his cuts, but Coleman is a reliable boundary ‘X’ wide receiver with immediate starting value.
Round 2 (via Commanders, projected trade): Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia
Mims is the riskiest offensive tackle prospect in the 2024 draft, but there’s also a chance he’ll be the best of what’s become a loaded class.
The former five-star recruit falls in Round 2 because he was a backup prior to 2023 and is currently out indefinitely with an ankle injury. That said, the physical upside with Mims is out of this world. He’s a 6-foot-7, 330-pound tackle with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, and he carries that weight incredibly well. Mims is overwhelmingly powerful when he locks up at the point of attack, and he also showcases a wide base and quick feet in pass protection. His acceleration for a man his size is unreal. There’s a lack of substantial tape which could hurt him, but Mims seems like a Combine hero with elite upside who seems like a safe bet to go at least Top 50 regardless.
Round 2 (via Patriots, projected trade): Cooper Beebe, OG/C, Kansas State
The Bears addressed offensive tackle in this mock — I like Braxton Jones but wanted to propose a new scenario I haven’t really focused on before — so now, it’s time to add an interior offensive lineman to the mix.
Beebe has experience playing four of the five offensive line positions, with center (a position he trained for in the 2023 offseason) being the lone exception. He’s a thickly-built prospect with a stout anchor and very good flexibility in his lower half needed to maintain ideal weight distribution. He plays with a mean streak but doesn’t get out of control, as he showcases good awareness finding work in pass protection and the ability to pick up the blitz. Interior offensive linemen who don’t have elite athleticism tend to drop a little bit, but make no mistake about it: Beebe is a Day 1 starting offensive lineman who could stick around in the NFL for a long time.
Round 3: Jack Sawyer, EDGE, Ohio State
After the Bears took a safer edge rusher — albeit much higher in Round 1 — in Jared Verse, they double-down here to select a riskier prospect but one whose upside is still extremely high.
Sawyer hasn’t been able to turn his tools into significant collegiate production yet, but those tools are quite impressive. He has long arms and a 6-foot-4, 267-pound frame, and he plays every bit as strong as his size indicates. He sets the edge well against the run and does a good job of keeping his pads low at the point of attack. For a bigger edge rusher, he’s also very athletic, featuring great first-step quickness and impressive agility in his game. The hand usage and instincts will have to improve with Sawyer, but he has everything you could want from a physical perspective, and that makes him a player worth developing.
Round 4: Riley Leonard, QB, Duke
Even though the Bears are keeping Justin Fields in this situation, that doesn’t mean they don’t have to avoid the quarterback position altogether.
Leonard would be in conversation to be one of the first quarterbacks off the board in a weaker class like the 2022 draft, but a loaded 2024 class has the national consensus sleeping on him, despite Duke being ranked No. 18 in the nation right now. He’s a big-armed quarterback with some nice velocity in his throws and the ability to fit passes accurately into tight windows. He’s also one of the better dual-threat passers in the nation, as his breakaway speed and agility are well above-average in a sneaky sense similar to that of fellow Duke signal-caller Daniel Jones. Inconsistency with sensing pressure and reading the field could limit his draft stock, but if you sit him early in his career and he develops well enough, it’s not entirely out of the question he’ll become an NFL starting quarterback.
Round 4 (via Eagles): Ben Sinnott, TE, Kansas State
I don’t know exactly what Sinnott’s role will be in the NFL, but one thing’s for sure: he’s a lot of fun to watch.
He’s a versatile offensive weapon with experience as a traditional in-line tight end, but he thrives as an H-back/borderline fullback type of role when Kansas State uses him there. He’s an athletic player with nice burst off the line of scrimmage and very good fluidity as a seam threat across the middle of the field. Sinnott has good awareness to exploit soft spots in zone coverage, and his effort and pad level make him a solid blocker for someone who doesn’t have elite size or strength. He doesn’t have the skill set to play consistently well as a traditional ‘Y’ at the next level, but as an ‘F’ tight end, he could be a mid-round player to watch.
Round 5: Tra Fluellen, S, Middle Tennessee State
The Bears need safety depth, so why not take a shot on an under-the-radar safety with great production as a coverage defender and as a tackler?
Fluellen offers great size at 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds. He specializes as a free safety at Middle Tennessee State but might be better as a strong safety in the NFL. His large frame, physicality and high motor make him a valuable tackling defensive back, as he isn’t afraid to chase downhill and lower the boom against incoming ball-carriers. He has nice ball skills and attacks the ball with precise angles and good coordination in the air, and he finished 2022 with 104 tackles, two interceptions (including one for a pick-six) and 8 pass deflections. His range in coverage is average and he won’t provide a ton of value in man coverage due to pedestrian fluidity, but he seems like a great special teams asset and an intriguing late-round target outside of the Power 5.