NFL Mock Draft 2.0 – All 7 Rounds

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Bears Draft Picks Analysis

After some shrewd free agent signings by Bears GM Phil Emery there were fewer holes to fill in the 2nd version of my 7-round mock draft. I didn’t fill all of them, but put the Bears in a position where they only have a couple more depth moves to make. After adding five defensive players and two offensive players in my mock draft, the Bears only remaining needs are at back-up QB, back-up tight end, a slot wide receiver and a 5th defensive tackle. Considering the state of the Bears defense at the beginning of the off-season with holes pretty much everywhere, the off-season has gone pretty well for the Bears so far. With the combination of the free agent signings and the picks in this mock, the Bears are in pretty good shape for 2014.

Now that Henry Melton is officially gone, I think Aaron Donald at 14 is basically a no-brainer if he is available. I’m hearing a lot of rumors lately about the Titans (11) or Rams (13) taking Donald. They may just be rumors, but the Rams are thin behind their two starters at DT, one of which, Kendall Langford, is a free agent in 2015 and the Titans are switching to a 3-4 scheme and could use Donald as a 5-technique DE. The Rams do have a more immediate need at safety and the Titans at OLB & T, so let’s hope they pass on Donald because he a perfect fit for the Bears needs. The reality is that Donald is a top 10 talent and there is a good chance somebody takes him before the 14th pick; if that happens, I think the Bears best move would be to trade down and add a few more picks.

The Bears 2nd round pick was the toughest decision of the draft. The 2nd tier safeties were both available (Ward, Bucannon) as were some pretty good corners (Desir, McGill, Breeland) but ultimately I decided on Borland because he was the best player available. The Bears long-term MLB situation is dire, which is unacceptable for a team that has built it’s identity around the position for as long as I can remember. Borland has a shot to be the next guy in the Butkis, Singletary, Urlacher legacy.

The 3rd & 4th round picks were going to be defensive backs barring a big-time talent dropping unexpectedly. The corner position is the 2nd deepest in the draft after wide receiver and with quality options like Jean-Baptiste, Watkins, EJ Gaines and Walt Aikens still available it was hard to go wrong. I think Jean-Baptiste has the most upside of any corner in the draft outside of Gilbert, Dennard, and Roby which is why he was the pick in the 3rd. My choice of Exum in the 4th round was a bit more difficult only because I debated whether a different safety prospect like Tre Boston or Donte Johnson would be a better choice. Exum won out because he is the best athlete of the group, has the best chance to play corner if another safety pans out, and is the biggest hitter of the three which is an aspect that has been missing from the Bears defense for too long.

I had originally targeted a QB in round 5, but with both Aaron Murray and Tom Savage gone, I couldn’t resist taking a dynamic play-maker like Dri Archer. With Hester officially gone (Falcons) the Bears need to find a replacement return man and Archer has the speed and talent to almost as dangerous as Hester. He’s also more of a natural football player then Hester ever was and would be an existing weapon under the direction of offensive maestro Marc Trestman. Unfortunately, Archer’s 4.26 40-time at the combine drew a lot of attention his way and he might not be around in the later rounds anymore.

I probably spent more time debating the 6th round picks than any other round, mostly because there were so many players left that I still liked and it was hard to narrow it down to the two best fits for the Bears. Eventually I picked the guys with the most upside. Larry Webster has freakish athleticism, ideal size, and the natural ability to rush the passer, which is one of those innate skills that you either have or you don’t. Webster has it and supposedly looked natural as a red zone tight end last year (2 TDs). RB Isaiah Crowell is a gamble with the Bears second 6th rounder, but the gun charges that got him kicked out of Georgia as a freshman have been dropped and he hasn’t gotten in trouble in three years. He might still smoke weed, but honestly I can live with that. There were plenty of good running backs still available at that point in the 6th round, but only one with the potential to be great. That wraps up my picks for this mock. If you don’t agree with my rationale or think I passed on better players, let me know in the comments.

The most important position still unfilled is at QB. I was planning on finding another QB for the Bears because I’m not comfortable with Jordan Palmer as the Bears only back-up. Bears HC Marc Trestman has faith in Palmer and has spoken very highly about his ability to pick up the offense. Trestman earned my trust due to the job he did with Josh McCown last year, but at least McCown was a 3rd round pick at one point with considerably more physical gifts than Palmer. If the Bears can bring in a back-up with potential, then there is a chance he could surpass Palmer on the depth chart at some point in 2014. The problem is that the Bears still have some serious defensive holes and by the time I had filled them, all of the decent QB prospects were gone. In my opinion it doesn’t make sense to waste a draft pick on a QB that probably won’t beat out Palmer when there are still other roster holes that need attention. Quarterback prospects Aaron Murray and Tom Savage were my primary targets, but were both gone before the Bears 5th round pick which is the soonest I think they will use a pick on a QB. There are a couple of undrafted QBs that have a chance at an NFL career and I will break those guys down in my upcoming undrafted free agent post.

Marc Trestman has stated his desire for a H-back / Move TE to back up Martellus Bennett. I had planned on drafting one late, but there isn’t much difference between the tight ends available in the late rounds and the guys available in the undrafted free agent pool. The Bears did bring back Dante Rosario, but he is more of a blocking TE and doesn’t add any flexibility to the offense that an athletic move-TE would. There are a few potential good fits for the position that went undrafted who I will discuss in my UFA post.

Most fans seem to disagree with me about the Bears need for a 5th DT. The Bears almost always carry 5 (2010, 2011, 2012), but after DT Sedrick Ellis’ surprise retirement during training camp last season, the Bears decided to only keep 4 DTs. It didn’t work out very well. Granted there was some bad luck involved with both Henry Melton and Nate Collins being lost for the season due to injuries by week 5 of the season. It was a fluke, but I hope the results were awful enough to keep the Bears from tempting fate again with only 4 DTs. Most teams can get away with 4, but in the Bears scheme the two DT spots (3-technique & 1-technique) have vastly different responsibilities and are really two different positions. The 1-technique’s job is to hold his point of attack on the line of scrimmage to clog up running lanes, similar to a 3-4 nose tackle. The 3-technique’s job is to penetrate into the backfield and disrupt both run and pass plays. So as it stands right now, the Bears have only injury-prone Nate Collins (never made it through a full season) and rookie 1st rounder Aaron Donald who should be able to contribute in 2014, but with rookies you never really know. In my opinion it’s a foolish risk to take. I debated drafting another 3-technique DT, but I think the Bears would be better off bringing in a veteran DT on a minimum contract as depth.

After the Bears release of WR Earl Bennett, last year’s 7th round pick WR Marquess Wilson is now the Bears 3rd receiver. The Bears coaching staff raved about Wilson’s talent during the season last year, but it is a big jump for a guy with only 2 catches last year. The Bears did just sign WR Domenik Hixon, but he is a depth guy with limited upside. 5th rounder Dri Archer will be able to contribute at the receiver position but due to his 173 pound frame is better off being used sparingly so he remains healthy to return kicks and punts. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Bears drafted a wide receiver with one of their late picks.  This is one of the deepest drafts at wide receiver in recent memory and the Bears could get a 2nd or 3rd round talent in the 5th or 6th round or a 5th or 6th round talent as a UFA if they don’t draft one.

Summary of the Bears picks in mock 2.0:

14.) DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh 

51.) MLB Chris Borland, Wisconsin 

82.) CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska 

117.) S/CB Antone Exum, Virginia Tech 

156.) WR Dri Archer, Kent St 

183.) DE Larry Webster, Bloomberg 

191.) RB Isaiah Crowell, Alabama St 


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