Before we begin, here are some general notes to keep in mind:
There is no shortage of talent in the 2018 NFL Draft. The only weak position that keeps coming up amongst my research, and others as well, is the wide receiver position.
Thankfully, Ryan Pace has almost solidified that position in free agency by signing Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel. I still expect a wide receiver to be drafted by Chicago, but not in the first round.
Pace has really emphasized building through the draft, and he has really put some good young talent on this Bears’ roster. He’s done that by taking the best player available, and I totally expect that trend to continue, even if it’s in positions we don’t anticipate!
A general concern is that the Bears do not have a third-round pick. That is a key round this year because of a deep talent pool. I anticipate the Bears making a trade to gain additional picks, but projecting trades for a mock draft is simply unavailing; therefore, I’ve stuck with the team’s current slate of picks.
Without wasting another second, here is my first full mock draft of the year:
Round 1, No. 8 Overall: Tremaine Edmunds, LB (Virginia Tech)
Edmunds is an athletic linebacker who excels in space. When watching his film he wraps up well in the open field and chases down players effortlessly. His stat line also stands out because of the consistency. In 2016 he had 106 tackles, 18.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks. In 2017 he had 109 tackles, 14 for a loss and 5.5 sacks.
That’s the type of production the Bears could use at any of the linebacker positions. Whether next to Danny Trevathan or opposite of Floyd, Edmunds will make his impact felt on the field throughout the entirety of the season.
Despite not having the sack numbers to be an edge rusher that the Bears need, he can play outside linebacker and still be a major key to the defense without putting pressure on the opposing quarterback. Pace takes the best player available in the first round, and that player is Edmunds.
Round 2, No. 39 Overall: Equanimeous St. Brown WR (Notre Dame)
The wide receiver position for the Bears isn’t quite solidified yet with Cameron Meredith’s offer from the Saints (at the time of publishing) yet to be matched. Thus, Chicago will look to add to the position in Round 2 before having to sit out a round, even if it’s a slight reach.
Some question his competitiveness.
Frankly, if the Bears’ offense is going to be as aggressive and fun as it is being made out to be, his motivation should fix itself. There are also questions about his hand strength, but that’s an aspect that can always be improved with appropriate training.
St. Brown has really good footwork that allows him to change directions quickly and run efficient routes. Even if he can’t shake the defender, he has the length to make the catch in traffic or over the middle and would be another fun playmaker to watch blossom in Matt Nagy’s offense.
Round 4, No. 105 Overall: Josh Sweat, Edge (Florida St.)
Obviously, this pick is a result of some serious wishful thinking.
Sweat should be off the board by now, but this is purely a mock draft, and hey – a man can dream, right? ;-)
Sweat would provide the Bears with another athletic linebacker. Sweat and Edmunds have similar builds (Sweat 6-foot-4, 251-pounds and Edmunds 6-foot-5, 253-pounds), but Sweat did not put up quite the production that Edmunds did. In 2017, Sweat only had 56 tackles, 12.5 for a loss, and 5.5 sacks.
He’s slow off the snap, typically the last one to get his hand out of the dirt. This could be attributed to the meniscus injury that he suffered in 2016.
However, his quickness and explosiveness make up for that slow reaction time. Watching him run his 4.53 40 yard dash at the NFL Combine is what made Sweat an option in the middle rounds. If the Bears can have two speedy pass rushers in Floyd and Sweat, that would be a great threat to opposing offenses.
Give him some time under Vic Fangio, and he’ll become a steady pass rusher for Chicago.
Round 4, No. 115 Overall: Marcus Allen, Safety (Penn State)
In an attempt to add some depth on the backend of the defense, Pace nabs another safety from Penn State in the middle rounds just like he did in his first draft as GM with Adrian Amos.
Allen and Amos played together at Penn State in 2014, so there is already some familiarity between the two. In fact, Amos had a big impact on Allen’s game today as Amos taught him how to be aggressive.
Allen will look at any opponent and put on a full attack on anybody and will lay just as big of a hit as Amos will. Allen is great against the run and willingly attacks downhill to meet a receiver or running back.
The catch? He does not react to the ball until it is out of the quarterback's hands. As a result, he struggles to get a hand in the passing lane. Allen is good at being the single-high safety, yet struggles to maneuver in the open field efficiently.
Overall, Allen is going to be a solid pick in Round 4 because he compares very similarly to Amos. We already know how he’s going to play, and if the Bears play a run-heavy team, then Fangio can put him in as a nickel corner for added run support from the secondary.
Round 5, No. 145 Overall: P.J. Hall, DL (Sam Houston St.)
The 2017 Jerry Rice Award candidate is going to be a name you frequently hear on Sunday’s. Hall is a 6-foot-1, 310-pound defensive lineman that has played the tackle position and both outside positions as an end as well as a stand-up edge rusher.
Hall has a high football IQ that shows up on the field when he diagnoses a play and attacks relentlessly. If he can’t get to the quarterback, he is very good at timing himself to get his hands up and knock the pass down at the line of scrimmage.
In 2017 he finished with 60 total tackles, 19 for a loss, a forced fumble and an interception. He also finished with six sacks on the year, yet in 2016 he had a career-high 13 sacks. Oh, it’s also worth mentioning that in his time at Sam Houston St. he had 14 blocked kicks.
Round 6, No. 181 Overall: Colby Gossett, OG (Appalachian St.)
You can’t have enough offensive lineman, right? The Bears have a spot to fill after they released Sitton earlier this offseason. So far in free agency, Pace has not yet addressed how they plan on filling that spot on the roster. Insert the small school kid, Gossett.
Last year, Pace showed that there is some talent in the small school market. Tarik Cohen and Adam Shaheen both had solid first years and have a lot more upside yet to come. Gossett has some similar upside here in the late middle rounds.
Gossett is a strong guard as he put up 32 reps at the NFL Combine. He does not need to add any beef to his frame as he could be plugged in and look like the rest of his teammates on the line already.
A common criticism of Gossett is that he just isn’t quick enough. He can’t quite perform with his frame quite yet, but that does not mean that Harry Hiestand cannot fix that. Once he grows into his body and develops some more athleticism during conditioning, Gossett can really be an asset to the Bears offensive line that can use some depth.
Round 7, No. 224 Overall: Sean Welsh, OG (Iowa)
After watching Iowa come to Purdue almost every other season in Big Ten Conference time, Welsh is not your typical Hawkeye offensive lineman. He is a smaller guy compared to the other monsters that play in the offensive trenches for Iowa.
However, that doesn’t mean that he’s not a good lineman. He’s listed as a center, yet played right guard and right tackle in 2017 for the Hawkeyes. That versatility on the offensive line is something that becomes incredibly valuable for a backup offensive lineman in the NFL.
We’ve all seen first hand how well it has worked for Cody Whitehair, playing three positions in one game in the 2017 season.
And just like that, the mock draft is over.
What are your thoughts? What picks do you love? Which ones do you hate?
Let me know in the comment section below!