The last time I did a mock draft, which was exactly a month ago, the Bears had a fourth-round pick, Leonard Floyd was still on the team and Mitch Trubisky was the only quarterback under contract.
A lot has changed since free agency, including my second mock draft.
Before I get into my second version, here is what my first attempt looked like.
- Round 2, Pick 43: Florida EDGE Jonathan Greenard
- Round 2, Pick 50: SIU S Jeremy Chinn
- Round 4, Pick 140: LSU G Damien Lewis
- Round 5, Pick 163: Notre Dame CB Troy Pride Jr.
- Round 6, Pick 196: Washington State QB Anthony Gordon
- Round 6, Pick 200: Memphis RB/WR Antonio Gibson
- Round 7, Pick 226: Southern Mississippi WR Quez Watkins
- Round 7, Pick 233: Texas Tech OT Terence Steele
For this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator and their predictive board to rank the prospects.
Round 2, Pick 43: LSU C Lloyd Cushenberry
It’s no secret the Bears’ offensive line needs to drastically improve in 2020. The hope is new O-line coach Juan Castillo can elevate the four returning starters and also free agent acquisition Germain Ifedi, who will transition from right tackle to right guard for the Bears.
Despite Ifedi making the move to RG, Pace has to draft another offensive linemen in case the former first-round pick doesn’t work out. Luckily for the Bears, LSU’s Lloyd Cushenberry was available at pick No. 43.
In Cushenberry’s junior season, he earned plenty of individual and team accolades. After LSU’s first day of training camp, Cushenberry was awarded the No. 18 jersey, making him the first offensive linemen to achieve this honor. The O-line’s performance last season, which helped the Tigers win a national championship, also won the Joe Moore Award, which is given to the best O-line in college football.
At 6-foot-3, 312 pounds, Cushenberry has ideal size to absorb and handle bull rushes from opposing nose tackles. On this play against Auburn last season, he takes on Derrick Brown, a projected top five pick in this year’s draft. After the initial strike from Brown, Cushenberry anchors himself, keeps Brown away from his body and gives Joe Burrow enough time to complete the pass.
Cushenberry also was asked to move up to the second level to create running lanes. On this third-and-18 play against Texas, Cushenberry gets in a great position to wall off his defender, which allows the running back to pick up nine yards.
In Week 10 last season, the Bears decided to switch Cody Whitehair back to center and James Daniels back to left guard. Drafting Cushenberry could shift the interior O-line again, or Cushenberry may transition to right guard.
However the situation would play out, adding Cushenberry to the Bears’ roster makes the offensive line much better.
Round 2, Pick 50: Penn State WR K.J. Hamler
2019 Stats: 13 G, 56 Rec, 904 Yds, 8 TD / 13 Rush, 43 Yds
When the Bears released Taylor Gabriel, they lost speed on their offense. For Matt Nagy to maximize the potential for his scheme, he needs someone who can stretch the field vertically. Ryan Pace can address this need for the offense by selecting K.J. Hamler.
Although a hamstring injury prevented him from running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, his tape should be more than enough to validate his elite speed.
Against Ohio State in 2018, Hamler showcased his speed when he torched the Buckeyes’ defense for a 93-yard touchdown on a slant route. According to Hamler, he wasn’t even running his fastest on that play because he “didn’t know how to pick up [his] knees” at the time.
In addition to Hamler’s speed and ability to get yards after the catch, he excels at tracking the football in the air. On this play against Michigan last season, Hamler creates great separation from the defender with his subtle hesitation move and locates the ball without breaking stride.
Drafting Hamler does bring up the question, how does Nagy utilize Hamler and Anthony Miller at the same time? Both receivers play primarily in the slot. At Penn State last season, Hamler was in the slot 616 times out of his 694 offensive snaps, while Miller played 929 snaps in the slot compared to 293 out wide over the last two seasons for the Bears, according to Pro Football Focus.
If Nagy’s biggest problem in 2020 is figuring out how to use Miller and Hamler, then that is a great problem to have. When is it ever bad to have too many options on offense? The answer, never.
An option could be to put Miller outside more this season. At Memphis, he lined up out wide, and against Connecticut in 2017, Miller caught 15 passes for 224 yards and his four touchdown receptions all came as an outside receiver. As for Hamler, he shouldn’t be automatically ruled out for the “Z” receiver in Nagy’s offense just because of his 5-foot-9, 178-pound frame, especially since Gabriel played the position at a smaller size: 5-foot-7, 168 pounds.
Nagy likes to mix up his personnel on offense and often puts his receivers in tight 3×1 formations to give them plenty of opportunities to make plays in the open field. He’s known for being creative, so I’m sure he would find ways to integrate a talented receiver like Hamler while also putting Miller in positions to succeed.
Round 5, Pick 163: Georgia S J.R. Reed
Since Pace took over as GM in 2015, he has drafted four players from Georgia: Floyd, Roquan Smith, Javon Wims and Riley Ridley. Even though Deon Bush is the early front runner to start alongside Eddie Jackson, J.R. Reed would be good player to bring in for competition.
Reed’s specializes in diagnosing run plays, taking the proper angles and finishing ball carriers with good form tackles. Take this play against Vanderbilt last season for example. Reed lines up 12 yards off the line of scrimmage, but as he sees the quarterback hand the ball off, Reed comes down hill under control and tackles the running back for only a three-yard gain.
Another attribute that stands out about Reed is his football I.Q. With his dad, Jake Reed, being a former NFL receiver and uncle, Dale Carter, being a former defensive back, Reed has been around football his entire life. Reed was also Smith’s roommate during the 2018 season, which ended with a loss to Alabama in the National Championship.
On this third-and-goal play against Notre Dame last season, Reed diagnoses the Irish’s screen pass and forces a fourth down attempt. Reed comes upfield unblocked, and instead of just rushing directly at the quarterback, Reed looks at the QB’s eyes and bats down the pass to Chase Claypool that likely would have been a touchdown.
Pace has openly expressed that competition brings out the best in everyone. Bush may have re-signed on a one-year, $1.4 million deal, but drafting a player like Reed would test Bush and his placement on the depth chart.
Round 6, Pick 196: Pittsburgh CB Dane Jackson
Going into training camp, the Bears will have to address who starts at right cornerback. With veteran corner Prince Amukamara no longer on the team, Kevin Toliver, Tre Roberson and Artie Burns are the options the fill that vacant position. Despite there being some options, Pace should bring in another corner to develop. Pittsburgh’s Dane Jackson would be a good candidate.
To start, Jackson is quite the athlete. During his high school career, Jackson played quarterback and accumulated over 2,000 yards of offense (1,111 rushing and 975 passing) as a junior. He also averaged 28 points per game in basketball as a senior. At Pittsburgh, he primarily lined up at the right cornerback position, but he did, at times, take reps on the defense’s left.
What stands out about Jackson is his aggressiveness. Against Wake Forest in 2018, Jackson quickly recognizes the screen pass and this allows him to deliver a huge hit on the slot receiver.
The Panthers often had their corners play man-to-man coverage, and Jackson played plenty of press. Here is a good play that he makes against Syracuse last season. The receiver runs a simple hitch route, but since Jackson is pressed up at the line of scrimmage, the receiver doesn’t create any separation. Jackson then makes a good play on the ball.
For Jackson in his rookie season, earning a spot on special teams would be the first goal. If he is drafted by the Bears, he would have a good coach in Chuck Pagano that could groom him to be a future contributor on defense.
Round 6, Pick 200: Oregon OT Calvin Throckmorton
To help add depth on the Bears’ offensive line, I had Pace selecting his second linemen in this draft by selecting former Oregon Duck right tackle Calvin Throckmorton. At Oregon, Throckmorton started all four years and has experience at guard, tackle and center.
His versatility could help him to see the field quicker than other prospects this late in the draft, but that is still a stretch. The Bears, however, did draft Charles Leno Jr. in the seventh round in 2014, so anything is possible.
On this third-and-2 play against Auburn last season, Throckmorton has to block Brown one-on-one. He does just enough to help his running back pick up the first down.
The Bears are still looking for a swing tackle, and Throckmortion could possibly fill that role.
Round 7, Pick 226: San Diego State LB Kyahva Tezino
In free agency, the Bears lost two of their inside linebackers when Nick Kwiatkoski signed with the Raiders and Kevin Pierre-Louis signed with the Redskins.
Chicago does still have Josh Woods and 2018 fourth-round draft pick Joel Iyiegbuniwe as depth, but Chicago shouldn’t feel too comfortable with either of them filling in if Danny Trevathan or Smith were to go down with an injury. Former San Diego State linebacker Kyahva Tezino could be a player that can add depth to the position.
Tezino is a downhill linebacker who delivers some big hits. Against Colorado State last season, he made several great plays, including this fourth down stop. Tezino shoots through the A gap and tackles the running back short of the goal line.
Then to start the third quarter, Tezino blitzes through the B gap and causes the running back to fumble.
For Tezino to make the Bears, he would have to do it on special teams. Woods and Iyiegbuniwe have kept their place on the team playing on the third phase, but Tezino could possibly push one of them for their spot.
Round 7, Pick 233: Washington RB Salvon Ahmed
For the Bears’ final pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, they add running back for the second consecutive year in the seventh round. Salvon Ahmed caught my attention because of his stance. He looks like he is standing straight up when he is in the backfield or lined up as a receiver.
Outside of his unique stance, though, Ahmed does show good contact balance. Last season against Utah, Ahmed somehow keeps his balance and ducks underneath the tight end to get a first down.
And on this fourth-and-1 play, Ahmed trusts his vision, bounces outside and outruns a potential Day 2 draft pick in safety Ashtyn Davis.
Ahmed also does have some special teams value. In three seasons at Washington, he returned 20 kicks for 500 yards.