Analysis

Bears Pre-Free Agency Mock Draft: It’s Time to Build the Trenches

When the Super Bowl ended, the mock draft season started. That’s right one of the most exciting times for NFL fans is underway. The scouting combine and NFL draft are ways away, but that doesn’t mean our research can’t get started early.
Throughout the time leading up to the NFL Draft, The Loop Sports will have you covered with in-depth scouting reports and mock drafts centered around the Chicago Bears. Today is the first installment of our mock draft series.Let’s dive in.
Let’s dive in.

What do the Bears Need?

This seems like an obvious question, but when you examine the free agents and the different draft prospects things become more complicated. Unfortunately, for the Bears, things are going to get complicated.
Here are my needs for the 2018 Bears in no particular order; Wide Receiver, Cornerback, Offensive Guard, Defensive Line and Outside Linebacker
Now, we can eliminate two positions right away when we are trying to predict the number eight overall pick. Those two positions are wide receiver and cornerback. Why? Well, neither of those positions provide enough value with a top ten pick. Also, the Bears have had awful luck when drafting receivers in the first round, most recently Kevin White.
We also have to look at the players that will be available at number eight. Calvin Ridley is the best receiver in the class, but this isn’t Julio Jones or Randy Moss were talking about. The Bears would get the best value out of this pick if they use to build the trenches (O-line or D-line). With that being said, let’s see who the Bears draft with the number eight overall pick.

Round One (Pick 8): OG Quenton Nelson – Notre Dame

Quenton Nelson is the best offensive linemen in this draft and it’s not really close. The Bears offensive line would really take shape if they drafted Nelson. Cody Whitehair could stay at center, while a healthy Kyle Long would be at right guard. That’s one hell of a line already with just those three players alone. It’s not a “sexy” first-round selection, but it’s a pick that would make the Bears better immediately.
Both Mitch Trubisky and Jordan Howard would benefit, while Nelson would reunite with his former coach in Harry Hiestand. Teams with solid offensive and defensive lines are hard to beat in the NFL. The Bears need to solidify the offensive line and they should do it with the eighth overall pick.
Again, there is no Julio in this draft, so why take Ridley too early?

Round Two (Pick Seven): WR Christian Kirk – Texas A&M

The wide receiver position needs to be addressed and I don’t think Ryan Pace will wait too long to do it. The second round feels like a good spot to take a wide-out. With that being said, I believe Courtland Sutton will be off the board by the time the Bears pick, so the next best option is Christian Kirk.
Kirk is the opposite of Sutton – he’s a slot guy who would be used inside. If Sutton is there, the Bears should take him, but that’s a big if. Especially, after teams see him at the combine. Kirk is a project for sure. However, Pace hasn’t shied away from those types of picks (Adam Shaheen and Tarik Cohen).
Trubisky would love to have Kirk as a safety blanket on underneath routes. I assume Cam Meredith will be re-signed, so the Bears will have at least one outside threat if Sutton is off the board. Now it’s also important to note that this mock draft is before NFL free-agency. If the Bears go out and sign Jarvis Landry then the Kirk pick is a stretch. As the roster sits today, it’s a good fit.
Against press coverage, Kirk is very good. He doesn’t have issues getting off the line. His tempo is consistent and that’s what makes him a solid player. He does lack speed down the field, which is why he was used primarily in the slot. Kirk also brings value in the return game.
He needs to find the right fit and system and that could be with Matt Nagy and the Bears.

Round Four (Pick Five): DL R.J. McIntosh – Miami

After addressing some of the needs on offense with the first two picks, the Bears will look to continue to build their defense. The defensive line is on the rise, but they could use one or two more pass rushers. If R.J. McIntosh is there in the fourth round, the Bears have to seriously consider taking him.
At 6’4″ and 293 pounds, McIntosh has the perfect build for an NFL defensive linemen. He would fit nicely in the rotation Vic Fangio has going on. Being able to rush the passer takes the pressure off the secondary. The Bears need to do more of that in 2018 to be successful.
McIntosh is solid against the run, as he uses his big frame to overpower offensive linemen. He also is very quick off the line. He does need some work as a pass rusher though. If he can develop more pass rushing skills I think this pick would be a great value in the fourth round.

Round Four (Pick 15): LB Lorenzo Carter – Georgia

This may be another spot where the Bears want to take a wide receiver, but I think there is another position worth taking a look at with this selection. I assume Jerrell Freeman will be released this offseason and the Bears are going to need to bring in some linebackers to help out Danny Trevathan.
Lorenzo Carter could be that guy in the fourth round.
Carter reminds of Leonard Floyd. He is long and lengthy. He also has the speed to cover anyone he desires. He’s very quick side-to-side, which is huge for any linebacker hoping to make it in the NFL. Carter can also be an effective pass rusher. Fangio doesn’t blitz a lot, but it’s good to have weapons.
Also like Floyd, Carter needs to gain some size if he’s going to make it. He is not the best solo tackler, which could be bad in the Fangio defense. He also doesn’t use his hands when rushing the passer. He will need to develop a “plan” when attacking the quarterback.
Carter could also have an impact on special teams. He is a phenomenal field goal blocker.
Pace takes athletes and Carter is just that. He’s the perfect project for Fangio.

Round Five (Pick Eight): CB Levi Wallace – Alabama

The Bears took a defensive back last year from Alabama and it turned out pretty well. Eddie Jackson was a bright spot for the Bears in 2017 and Levi Wallace could be that guy in 2018.
Wallace is another guy who should add some weight but his length is something that makes him an intriguing prospect. His story is awesome too. He was a walk-on that worked his way into a scholarship and then a starting position. He’s slowly climbing up draft boards. For the Bears sake, I hope he slows down a bit, so he’s there in the fifth round.
Nick Saban coached players are much more prepared for the NFL than others. The Bears are going to need to add some young talent to help Kyle Fuller out. Wallace makes sense at this point in time.

Round Six (Pick Six): EDGE Shaquem Griffin – UCF

In the later rounds, things can get interesting. Taking Shaquem Griffin in the sixth round would be exactly that.
Despite having a phenomenal resume, teams are still going to sleep on Griffin because of a prenatal condition. This is a player who would be a second-round draft pick if he had a left hand. He’s athletic and fast off the line. Not having a left-hand doesn’t hold him back at all – that much was clear after watching his tape.
In college, Griffin had 166 tackles, 18.5 sacks, and two interceptions. The question is how far will he fall? This reminds me of Jackson last year. He fell because he was coming off of a broken leg. With that being said, there is no doubt in my mind Griffin can play in the NFL. One team is going to get a special player.

Round Seven (Pick Six): WR Braxton Berrios – Miami (FL)

I’m a big believer in finding value at the wide receiver position in the later rounds. Braxton Berrios of Miami is the player I see being drafted by the Bears in the seventh round. I’ve stressed the importance of accumulating as much talent as possible at the receiver position and the Bears should draft AT LEAST two in the 2018 draft.
Berrios reminds of a Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman-type of player. They are great in the slot, while also being reliable downfield. Berrios is very similar. He can make any catch, anywhere on the field. He is great at catching the ball in traffic as well. Sure, he is short, but that doesn’t define a player.
Personally, I believe he’s a more reliable version of Tanner Gentry, who can create more separation. Pace should take a chance on the 5’8″ wide-out in the seventh round.

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