Perfect Picks: Chicago Bears
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
After the big trade for Khalil Mack and some aggressive moves up the board in previous years, the Chicago Bears are light on draft capital. Twelve months after a playoff appearance things don’t look so rosy. Your first round quarterback that you traded up for fails to take the next step, and further draft picks are squandered to bring in some competition for him. Couple that with some key departures and very obvious holes to fill, and Ryan Pace has a job on his hands. Let’s try and help him save his job shall we?
Round 2 - Pick 43 - Antoine Winfield Jr, S, Minnesota
No first round pick for Chicago this year, so we begin early on day two. The Bear’s secondary has taken a real hammering the last couple of seasons. Adrian Amos left for rivals Green Bay in free agency last season. Their short-term replacement – HaHa Clinton-Dix – has just signed with Dallas for 2020. Add to that Prince Amukamara being let go and the back end of Chuck Pagano’s defense suddenly becomes a priority.
If Winfield is on the board at this juncture then Bears fans should be ecstatic. The son of former Vikings cornerback Antoine Winfield Sr, the Golden Gopher has had a phenomenal college career. Slightly undersized but with an extremely physical style of play, Winfield has showcased elite instincts for the position. Ideally suited as a two-deep safety he would fit in perfectly alongside Eddie Jackson in the secondary.
Round 2 - Pick 50 - Robert Hunt, IOL, Louisiana
An undoubtedly major blow to this Bears offense was the abrupt retirement of Kyle Long. The seven-year veteran guard was a mainstay on this offensive line, and the three-time Pro Bowler will be sorely missed. Whether it’s Mitchell Trubisky or Nick Foles under center, making sure they have sufficient protection in front of them will be key to having a bounce back year in 2020.
Lucky for them, an underrated talent falls into their laps with their second pick on day two. At 6’5″ and 336lbs, Robert Hunt is a behemoth. He possesses remarkable strength and has a nasty demeanour that will fit in nicely in the gritty NFC North.
The best thing about Hunt is his versatility. He played most of his career at right tackle for The Ragin’ Cajuns, but many project him to kick inside at the next level. With questions at every position on the line except center, Hunt will offer the potential to line up anywhere The Bears need him most.
Flex Pick - Pick 50 - Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma
Okay – time for a curveball. Considering the trade-up for Trubisky and the acquisition of Nick Foles it is highly unlikely that Ryan Pace invests the team’s second pick in the draft into another quarterback. But that’s not to say they shouldn’t. Any Bears fan will tell you they are underwhelmed with the trade for Foles. They coughed up valuable draft capital to bring in a guy who is a questionable upgrade on their current starting quarterback. When you look at some of the names still available – Cam Newton, Jameis Winston to name but two – you can understand their ire. Quite simply, Pace had screwed this up.
Here’s how you fix it. Go get the one QB in this draft that has a similar skillset to Mitchell Trubisky. You don’t need to change the offense or the playbook at all. Jalen Hurts is a mobile quarterback who has had success at two of the biggest programs in college football. He’s an extremely intelligent prospect who make good decisions with the football, and working with Matt Nagy should elevate his game to the next level. The Bears would be immediately back on track and the Trubisky-Foles nightmare would be a distant memory.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 163 - Lamar Jackson, CB, Nebraska
No – not THAT Lamar Jackson. You haven’t just acquired the reigning MVP with a fifth round draft pick, sorry to disappoint. But what you have done is further bolster your secondary, which has quickly gone from a weakness to a strength.
This is the first selection the Bears have made since they selected Robert Hunt in the second round, so trades notwithstanding it’s as close to a mid-round pick as they get. With other needs on the roster doubling up on the back end of their defense might seem a touch luxurious, but the value was too much to pass up here.
Jackson is a big, physical corner who loves to bully his opponent. Well versed in press coverage, he jams receivers at the line of scrimmage and gets the upper hand early in the play. No fifth round prospect is elite, and Jackson has his deficiencies; he doesn’t show good instincts and you don’t want to give him too many looks in zone, but he has pretty impressive athletic ability for a big dude. He can clamp on to the Adam Thielen’s and Davante Adams’ of the NFC North and be a real headache.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 226 - Jared Pinkney, TE, Vanderbilt
Tight End has been a problem position in The Windy City ever since Martellus Bennett departed for The Patriots back in 2016. Trey Burton has come and gone. Adam Shaheen looks like the latest Ryan Pace draft pick to be a catastrophic bust. And excuse me if the recent free agency pickup of Jimmy Graham doesn’t fill me with optimism. With their quarterback enduring a steep learning curve to begin his NFL career, The Bears are crying out for a difference maker at the position.
It’s the seventh round folks – i’m not promising miracles here. The Tight End position group is hardly brimming with talent in this draft class, but if you look deep enough there may be some upside to be found…
Flash back twleve months ago and Jared Pinkney was being talked up as one of the best Tight Ends in the college ranks. He has the prototypical size and athleticism to excel at the next level. He plays with toughness across the middle and a surprising burst down the seam, and offers bonus upside as a blocker in run duties too. Like a number of other draft prospects from Vanderbilt he saw his stock plummet after a torrid 2019 season, and there are also injury concerns to take into account. But if he gets back to being anywhere close to the guy he was as a junior then a seventh rounder is well worth the risk.
Draft in full
43. Antoine Winfield Jr. (S)
50. Robert Hunt (IOL)
163. Lamar Jackson (CB)
196. Trevon Hill (EDGE)
200. Jauan Jennings (WR)
226. Jared Pinkney (TE)
233. Alex Taylor (OT)
Feature Image Credit: Nam Y. Huh (Associated Press)