The NFL season is over, and all eyes are now on free agency and the NFL Draft. We still have a couple months until the draft, but it’s never too early to start analyzing this year’s draft prospects. The Chicago Bears will have a lot of interesting choices to make this offseason. What they do in free agency will have a major effect on what they do in the draft.
Today is my first mock draft of the offseason. Let’s see who the Bears will take come the end of April.
Round 1, 8th Pick
Tremaine Edmunds LB Virgina
Edmunds is a player who has recently got a ton of coverage. What really got my attention was his draft profile on NFL.com. On it, his player comparison is none other than our very own hall of fame inductee Brian Urlacher. Edmunds has shown many similar traits to the Urlacher, and I don’t think any fans would be upset with another Urlacher.
Urlacher was 6’4″ and weighed in at 258, while Edmunds is listed as 6’5″ 250. So they have a similar size, but do they play the same? They absolutely do. Edmunds flies around the field, as he shows the kind of unnatural athleticism that Urlacher possessed throughout his career.
He can move laterally very well, as he showed throughout the season. He also has shown that he has the ability to cover well in the passing game. Edmunds will not be beaten easily as you can see below.
6'5, 250. Wheel route vs a RB (Crawford) projected to run around 4.5 flat?
No problem for Tremaine Edmunds. pic.twitter.com/bWvXdv53EY
— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) February 6, 2018
Edmunds would help an already athletic linebacker group. Where he would start though is a question mark. I could see him both in the position of inside linebacker or outside as an edge rusher. He will need some development at either position, but the goods news is that he is one of the youngest players in this draft at just 19 years old! If Chicago selected him, the linebacker unit could become great like previous groups.
Round 2, 39th Pick
Courtland Sutton Wide Receiver SMU
In the second round, you will see many different wide receivers being picked in mock drafts for the Chicago Bears. The guy that I really like for Chicago right now is Courtland Sutton. Sutton is a big 6’4″ receiver who has the ability to make catches in traffic and get some tough yardage.
I know many make fun of the phrase, but he really does play like a basketball player, as he does a great job positioning himself against cornerbacks. One thing that I really love about him though is he is a willing blocker. Some may overlook a wide receiver’s blocking skills, but it’s crucial to the outside running game. Sutton can be that guy to create holes for the running back.
Courtland Sutton isn't here for no patty cake. pic.twitter.com/i1ABKavao1
— Kyle Crabbs (@NDTScouting) January 6, 2018
After the departure of Alshon Jeffery, Chicago did not have a big body wide receiver for Mitch Trubisky to throw to. Sutton showed that he could become that big body receiver that Chicago is missing. I think with solid quarterback play Sutton could turn into a dominant wide receiver.
Round 4, 101st Pick
Nathan Shepherd Defensive Tackle Fort Hayes St.
While watching Senior Bowl lineman drills, I saw one guy that really stood out to me and played very well, and that was Nathan Shepherd. I didn’t know a lot about Shepherd going into Senior Bowl, but he got the attention of many because of his dominant play. I was very excited for him and wanted to see him in the game, but unfortunately, he suffered a broken hand.
While this was very unfortunate for him, he still impressed a lot of coaches and scouts and proved that he could play in the NFL. I decided to look back and watch some of his film from Fort Hayes St., and he really was a man among boys at the Division II level.
There isn’t a lot of film or highlight reels available for him, but below are a couple of his biggest plays.
— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) January 20, 2018
Shepherd is very raw, but he has tons of potential. He is massive now, but with his frame, he could grow to be even bigger. In Chicago, I think he could join the defensive line rotation and compete on special teams. Ryan Pace has proved that he is not afraid to take small school players, and Shepherd could be the next one.
Round 4, 111st Pick
Ian Thomas Tight End Indiana
Ian Thomas was a tight end that stood out to me at the Senior Bowl. I think if Thomas is available in the fourth round, he will be one of the best players left. Thomas has proven to be a player that can make small plays into big plays. He is a very strong player and will use that to his advantage by running through defenders. Some may not like that, as he may get more by running away, but it shows to me that he is not afraid at all of contact, and the NFL defenders won’t scare him.
Many may be wondering why in the world Chicago would select another tight end when we already have a lot of depth. Well from what I have heard about new offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich, is he likes to use multiple tight end sets in his offense. I know that this will be Matt Nagy’s offense, but Helfrich will still have a big impact on play creation.
Round 5, 136th Pick
Levi Wallace Cornerback Alabama
It takes a lot of guts to try and walk on at Alabama.
Wallace thrived at Alabama, as he earned a scholarship and a starting cornerback job. While many are paying attention to Minkah Fitzpatrick while watching Alabama defensive backs, Wallace deserves a shot to be drafted. He did a solid job throughout the season, as teams would target him trying to avoid Fitzpatrick and others.
While being targeted so much, he allowed a 32.7% completion percentage. He also had 15 passes defended, which led the SEC.
Wallace does not have the size or speed that other big-name defensive backs coming out of Alabama have possessed, but he has a mental toughness that comes from walking on at the biggest school in college football. Chicago took another Alabama defensive back last year with Eddie Jackson, and I would not be surprised if they did it again.
Round 6, 167th Pick
Jake Wieneke Wide Receiver South Dakota State
Another small school prospect that has made a big impact on their team was Jake Wieneke.
Wieneke absolutely dominated FCS Football, and I don’t mean to use dominate lightly. The highlight video is from his freshman year of college, and his new film is way better (No good highlight reel). Wieneke is one of the best wide receivers to ever play at the FCS level. In the Mountain West Conference, Wieneke finished with the single-season touchdown record with 16 touchdowns.
What’s crazy was he tied his own record the very next season! He also has the records for most career yards and touchdowns. Wieneke is another 6’4″ wide receiver, and you may think why we’d draft another big guy. but he and Sutton play differently. Wieneke has proved that he can do many things, as South Dakota State liked to use him both through the air and on the ground by sending him on end around, something you rarely see used with a 6’4″ wide receiver.
Wieneke is one of my favorite players in the draft. He will be at the NFL combine, and if he does well, he will be selected earlier in the draft, and I think Chicago would step up and take a shot on him. Pace loves his small school players and I think Wieneke is the guy that Ryan Pace wants that others are overlooking.
Round 7, Pick 198th pick
Leon Jacobs Outside Linebacker Wisconsin
With the last pick, I’m just looking for a developmental guy that could help on special teams. I would love to get Jacobs at this point in the draft. Jacobs was a bit hidden at Wisconsin, but that team was so good overall that he didn’t pop up as much. When you watch him on game-day though, the first thing that you notice massive he is.
Wisconsin’s lifting program helped Jacobs get a huge upper body, including gigantic arms. In terms of size, he is ready for the NFL. He does a decent job of both rushing the quarterback and dropping into coverage, and I think both could develop at the next level. The combine for Jacobs is very important, and he is a guy who has great potential to rise in the draft rankings.
In Chicago, Jacobs could develop into another solid rotational guy on defense. He can come in and be a solid backup and play well on special teams. I would be ecstatic with this pick in the 7th round.