With a little over a month remaining until the 2018 NFL Draft, it’s officially crunch time.
Throughout the early portions of free agency, the Chicago Bears assembled a strong supporting cast for franchise quarterback Mitch Trubisky, and new head coach Matt Nagy will have plenty of toys to play with in his offense.
It’s rare that a team that finishes in the top 10 in total defense and third-to-last in points scored on offense will need to set their sights on drafting more defensive playmakers than offensive.
However, with Chicago’s offense-orientated free agency haul, that’s the exact situation the Bears find themselves in.
Just how heavily focused will general manager Ryan Pace be on bolstering the Bears’ defense?
Let’s find out! 🙂
Round 1, No. 8 Overall: Roquan Smith, ILB (Georgia)
That’s right! With their first selection the Bears snag the best linebacker in the entire draft. Even though it’s not a popular opinion, this may be one of the best moves Chicago could make.
Before you Quenton Nelson lovers start yelling, wait. It’s super unlikely that he’ll be available when the Bears are on the clock. 😉 And no, Bradley Chubb won’t fall down to eight …
You may be wondering why Chicago would draft a linebacker with Danny Trevathan and Nick Kwiatkoski holding down the fort, and that’s valid. I’d just like to point something out.
Neither has put together a full season. In fact, over the two years they have shared in Chicago both have missed a combined 18 games. Yikes! Needless to say, it’s impossible to put your complete faith in them.
Back to Smith … For starters, he’s by far the most NFL-Ready. He plays fast and has tremendous instincts that allow him to make plays sideline-to-sideline.
It’s difficult to find a linebacker with his combination of speed at intelligence.
His versatility would allow him to see the field as a rookie as Smith could be utilized in a number of different ways. He could come in as an extra rusher in obvious passing situations, or he could drop back in coverage as he’s proven to do both very well.
The Georgia linebacker wouldn’t have to be an every-down player in 2018 even though he’s capable, but Smith possesses the skills to become one of the best in the league, and Chicago is the right place to leave your mark at the position.
Trevathan only has two years left on his deal and Kwiatkoski is no sure-lock to be a long-term solution at the position either. But, you know who is? Smith.
Pace craves elite athletic ability, and Smith fits the mold. It’s also been well documented that Smith is a great leader and seems to be the type of person the Bears would want inside their locker room.
There’s not a doubt in my mind that Vic Fangio would not only find ways to get him onto the field, but is also the right coach to get the most out of this linebacker bursting with potential.
Round 2, No. 39 Overall: Sam Hubbard, EDGE (Ohio St.)
What stands out about Hubbard is his stature. At 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, the Ohio State product has the build necessary to be an impactful player at the next level.
He’s a hard-working, high-motor type of player that fans in Chicago would love. After taking the starting spot once Joey Bosa left, Hubbard compiled 10.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss.
Hubbard does lack athleticism. That should be noted. However, that does not concern me much as his work ethic is second-to-none, he’s smart and is a hungry player that you’ll never see give up on a play.
He’s not your Day 1 starter, and that’s okay! What Chicago needs is a plethora of bodies at the position, and Hubbard can play a decent role within the rotation right away.
Hubbard may not develop into an All-Pro, but he has the intangibles to become a really good player for a long time.
Round 4, No. 105 Overall: Austin Corbett, G (Nevada)
Even though Corbett started every game in college at left tackle, he projects to be a better fit at guard at the next level. The Bears missed out on Nelson in the first round, but find a quality player in Corbett in the fourth.
Of course, the biggest question mark surrounding him will be if he’s able to make the move inside. But his smarts (and solid technique) should allow him to transition with relative ease.
Corbett would be instantly in the mix to win the open guard spot from Eric Kush or Jordan Morgan. He has decent lateral quickness, can gain proper positioning and has proven to be effective when asked to cut or combo block.
He’s another player that has been dubbed a team leader and determined worker. And as a guy who went from walk-on to four-year starter, he has “Pace Pick” written all over him.
Round 4, No. 115 Overall: Simmie Cobbs, WR (Indiana)
Even though the Bears brought in two wideouts in Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Pace ends up investing a draft pick at the position as well. Especially due to the fact that Cameron Meredith is no guarantee to return, and nobody knows what to expect from Kevin White.
Chicago met with Cobbs during the combine, and if they came away impressed on the Indiana product (and former Jordan Howard teammate), they may be inclined to pull the trigger if he’s available in the fourth round.
After a season-ending ankle injury in 2016, Cobbs returned to form as a junior last season when he posted 72 receptions for 841 yards and eight touchdowns.
There’s a lot to like about Cobbs. He has that NFL size and frame at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds. Cobbs also possesses great down-field body control, is a smooth route runner, knows how to position himself to win those 50-50 balls, and is not afraid to get dirty as a blocker.
However there are also some things that are concerning about the wideout like Cobbs’ inconsistency when catching the football. He’s been well-known to make bad drops and his lack of top-end speed is worrisome as he may struggle to gain separation at the professional level.
Overall, Cobbs brings another big body to the revamped receiving core. Even though he lacks speed, one must believe that Nagy can scheme him open and tailor to the receiver’s strengths.
Round 5, No. 145 Overall: Ja’Von Rolland-Jones, EDGE (Arkansas State)
Even though the Bears drafted Hubbard in the second round, don’t be surprised if Pace takes two as it’s that large of a need.
Rolland-Jones comes from a smaller school, but Pace is prone to take at least one of those players per year. The Arkansas State product was the best player on the field every down he played and was voted as the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year as a junior and senior.
Over the last two seasons, Rolland-Jones compiled 50 tackles for loss, 26.5 sacks, and four forced fumbles.
Even though Rolland-Jones isn’t the most gifted athlete, but he makes up for it with his high-motor and a large collection of moves as a pass rusher, as he understands how to utilize his hands to disengage blockers.
He does lack desired size at only 6-foot-2 and 244 pounds, but he has supreme instincts and was an ultra-productive player in college, which is worth a fifth-round gamble in my book.
Round 6, No. 181 Overall: Levi Wallace, CB (Alabama)
With Amukamara and Fuller returning to hold down the fort for the foreseeable future, and at this point at the draft, Chicago is just looking for quality depth.
Wallace fits that mold.
He’s not a household name like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Anthony Averett, but Wallace held his own in the Tide’s secondary as he lead the team with 15 pass breakups. He also tallied three interceptions, 48 tackles, and two sacks.
What’s enticing about Wallace is how he overcame all odds to become a starter for Alabama. See, Wallace was a walk on who did not see the field for his first two seasons. But through hard work and dedication, he earned Nick Saban’s respect climbed all the way up to a starting role in 2017.
Obviously, the kid is mentally tough.
He was no slouch in coverage either as he only allowed a completions on 32.7 percent of targets that went his way. He is a little bit thin, but he has that length Fangio covets.
With athletic upside, ball production and his ability to overcome, Wallace is worth a shot in the sixth round.
Round 7, No. 224 Overall: P.J. Hall, NT (Sam Houston St.)
With their final pick, the Bears go ahead and take a chance on another small-school prospect to backup Eddie Goldman.
Hall is another player who dominated his level of competition. Throughout his collegiate career, he compiled 86.5 tackles for loss, and 42 sacks.
Even though he’s short (only listed at 6-foot-1) Hall has that explosive power that can’t be taught. He also possesses a quick burst. Those two together is what allowed him to be a difference maker against the run and pass at the FCS level.
The only question on Hall is whether or not he can translate into the NFL. Pace is known to take risks, and Hall seems like he’s well worth it at this stage. He’d be in contention to make the roster in the same role that John Jenkins held last year.
There you have it! If this draft came to fruition, the Bears would take care of most of the current team needs.
Don’t forget that Pace still owes Fangio for staying put throughout the transition, and by adding these five players, Fangio would be all smiles … Or the closest he can get to smiling. 😉
What about you? Are you a fan of this mock draft? Did you hate it? Let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!