With the Super Bowl over, we can officially turn our attention to the offseason festivities. We’re still a few months away from the NFL Draft and plenty will change in that time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start getting familiar with some of the prospects the Bears might be targeting.
For the purposes of this mock draft, I used the Fanspeak On the Clock NFL mock draft simulator in order to be as accurate as possible.
Round 3, Pick 87 – G Michael Deiter (Wisconsin)
Others Considered: RB Damien Harris (Alabama), S Amani Hooker (Iowa)
Kyle Long has been a great Chicago Bear, but I don’t see any way the Bears can justify paying him $8.5 million this season, especially considering his injury history and advancing age. They can save $5.5 million if he is cut (or $7 million if he is cut after June 1st), which makes the decision even easier.
If cut, guard immediately becomes the Bears biggest need. Luckily, a very good one was still on the board at the 87th pick in Wisconsin’s Michael Deiter.
You can’t go wrong drafting an offensive lineman from Wisconsin (as long as you conveniently ignore Gabe Carimi).
Deiter was a four-year starter for the Badgers with experience at tackle, guard and center. While his best position in the NFL will be on the interior, his experience allows him to kick to tackle in a pinch. After all, he did earn first-team All-Big 10 honors in 2017 as a tackle.
This past season, at guard, he was a second-team All-American and the Rimington-Pace Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Deiter’s upside is limited by his lack of length, but his quick feet and size (6-foot-6, 328 pounds) should allow him to blossom as a guard in the Bears’ zone scheme. He works best in space, and, as we know, Matt Nagy and Harry Hiestand love guards that can pull and get to the second level.
NFL Comparison: Kevin Zeitler
4th Round, Pick 126 – S Mike Edwards (Kentucky)
Others Considered: OLB Christian Miller (Alabama), RB Elijah Holyfield (Georgia), CB Sean Bunting (Central Michigan)
With a mock draft this early, we have to make some assumptions. For this pick, I am assuming the Bears re-sign Bryce Callahan and let Adrian Amos test free agency.
That being said, I wanted to target a safety with my first few picks and Mike Edwards from Kentucky is a perfect fit.
The biggest knock on Edwards, and the reason he is available in the fourth round, is he doesn’t possess great range as a single high safety. With Eddie Jackson next to him, he will rarely be put in that position. Instead, the Bears can use him where he really thrives which is in the slot and closer to the line of scrimmage.
He was listed at 6-foot and 200 pounds at Kentucky, which might be a little generous. But his lack of size did not stop him from bringing a physical play style to the position with 278 tackles over the last three seasons. He has proven he can play the run well but also can man the slot and has good ball skills with nine interceptions in that same time.
NFL Comparison: Budda Baker
5th Round, Pick 163 – OT Oli Udoh (Elon)
Others Considered: OLB Carl Granderson (Wyoming), RB Justice Hill (Oklahoma St.)
If there’s one thing we know about Ryan Pace, it is he loves small school guys. The Bears recently re-signed Bobby Massie and have Charles Leno locked up until 2021, but behind those two, Chicago does not have much in terms of depth, so I believe they will target a young tackle to groom into a starter down the road.
Oli Udoh from Elon is a perfect fit for this team. He isn’t ready to start right away, but with a year or two of seasoning, he could develop into a very good tackle.
Udoh is shooting up draft boards, and after dominating at the East-West Shrine Game, he got the call up to the Senior Bowl. He impressed scouts there as well as measuring in at 6-foot-5, 327 pounds with massive 36-inch arms.
He is very raw at this point but has all the traits NFL teams look for in a developmental tackle. It would not surprise me if he goes much higher than his current skill set dictates, especially since players with his size, mobility and power are hard to find.
NFL Comparison: Terron Armstead
7th Round, Pick 227 – OLB Maxx Crosby (Eastern Michigan)
Others Considered: RB Tony Pollard (Memphis), S Marquise Blair (Utah), TE Dawson Knox (Ole Miss)
In the seventh round, I am looking for a player that does one thing well and hoping to develop the other traits to get the most out of a players potential. Maxx Crosby is exactly that type of player.
Crosby wins on the edge with his advanced hand technique. Not many smaller school players have a natural feel for hand fighting that Crosby does. His length readily shows up on tape and that is something you cannot teach.
He has a quick first step (when he wants to) but doesn’t have the bend or flexibility to turn the corner. But his above-average hand fighting ability should allow him to become a five-to-six sack-a-year player with time.
His biggest issue right now is his lack of play strength. But at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds he has the frame to add an additional 15 or 20 pounds.
When he doesn’t have a quick first step, Crosby has a tendency to pop upright out of his stance which only exacerbates his issues at the point of attack. He needs to maintain his pad level in order to make the most of his pedestrian play strength at the moment.
His success in the run game is almost entirely due to his ability to shoot gaps. Right now Crosby doesn’t have the functional play strength to stack and shed in a 2-gap scheme. Might consider moving him off the ball on running downs.
NFL Comparison: Cassius Marsh
7th Round, Pick 240 – RB Alexander Mattison (Boise State)
Others Considered: RB Bryce Love (Stanford), LB Khalil Hodge (Buffalo), CB Sean Bunting (Central Michigan)
I wrote extensively on Alexander Mattison in my last piece that you can read here (link to article once published). But I believe he is being overlooked, much like Jordan Howard did, because of his lack of elite athleticism. His power, vision, and balance more than make up for his athletic deficiencies.
NFL Comparison: Chris Ivory
Without a first-and second-round pick it is going to be difficult to draft impact players. But if anyone can do it, it is Pace. After all, he has shown the ability to thrive in the middle rounds with players such as Jackson, Tarik Cohen, and Bilal Nichols just to name a few.
With the draft, there are always going to be differing opinions, but I believe this haul would be a home run for the Bears given their circumstances. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.