Intro

It’s draft season baby! The NFL draft is next Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, and even though I will be moving at that time I will be watching as much as I can. I have spent a lot of my down time in the last 6 months watching film and reading scouting reports for over 400 draft prospects (information I’ve turned into a Madden draft class you can find in the XBOX file share under the name jrwhitcomb). Now, it’s time to put all that work into practice. Today I have for you: Top 5 rankings at every single position, Bears Mock Drafts on two different simulators with and without trades, a full all NFL three round predictive mock draft, a special ‘What I Would Do’ 1-Round mock draft, a Rankings to Needs 1-Round Mock Draft and a simulated 7-round mock draft where I selected for ALL FOUR NFC NORTH TEAMS. This was loads of fun to make, so I hope you enjoy. I will be back next Friday to discuss who the Bears should take with the first round out the way, and then the week after that to analyze and grade who the Bears, and the whole NFC North, did take. Please, please, please, let me know your thoughts on Twitter @joeywhitc.

Positional Top 5

QB: 1. Malik Willis, 2. Desmond Ridder, 3. Kenny Pickett, 4. Sam Howell, 5. Carson Strong

HB: 1. Kenneth Walker III, 2. Breece Hall, 3. Isaiah Spiller, 4. Dameon Pierce, 5. Brian Robinson

FB/H-Back: 1. Chig Okonkwo, 2. Jeremiah Hall, 3. Abram Smith, 4. Connor Hayward, 5. Clint Ratkovich

Outside WR: 1. Drake London, 2. Treylon Burks, 3. Chris Olave, 4. George Pickens, 5. Jameson Williams

Inside WR: 1. Garrett Wilson, 2. Jahan Dotson, 3. Kyle Phillips, 4. John Metchie, 5. Khalil Shakir

In-line Tight End: 1. Trey McBride, 2. Jeremy Ruckert, 3. Jake Ferguson, 4. Isaiah Likely, 5. Greg Dulcich

Left Tackle: 1. Ikem Ekwonu, 2. Charles Cross, 3. Bernard Raimann, 4. Nicholas Petit-Frere, 5. Trevor Penning

Right Tackle: 1. Evan Neal, 2. Daniel Faalele, 3. Andrew Stueber, 4. Max Mitchell, 5. Jalen McKenzie

Guard: 1. Zion Johnson, 2. Kenyon Green, 3. Tyler Smith, 4. Jamaree Salyer, 5. Cade Mays

Center: 1. Tyler Linderbaum, 2. Alec Lindstrom, 3. Dohnovan West, 4. Cam Jurgens, 5. Brock Hoffman

4-3 DE: 1. Kayvon Thibodeaux, 2. Aidan Hutchinson, 3. Travon Walker, 4. Arnold Ebiketie, 5. George Karlaftis

3-4 OLB: 1. Jermaine Johnson, 2. David Ojabo, 3. Drake Jackson, 4. Boye Mafe, 5. Nik Bonitto

3-4 DE: 1. Phidarian Mathis, 2. DeMarvin Leal, 3. Logan Hall, 4. Eyioma Uwazurike, 5. Zachary Carter

DT: 1. Jordan Davis, 2. Devonte Wyatt, 3. Travis Jones, 4. Perrion Winfrey, 5. John Ridgeway

4-3 OLB: 1. Christian Harris, 2. Brandon Smith, 3. Channing Tindall, 4. Brian Asamoah II, 5. Chad Muma

MLB: 1. Nakobe Dean, 2. Devin Lloyd, 3. Leo Chenal, 4. Troy Anderson, 5. Darrian Beavers

Outside CB: 1. Ahmad Gardner, 2. Kaiir Elam, 3. Derek Stingley, 4. Andrew Booth Jr., 5. Cam Taylor-Britt

Nickel: 1. Daxton Hill, 2. Trent McDuffie, 3. Roger McCreary, 4. Jalen Pitre, 5. Damarri Mathis

Box S: 1. Kyle Hamilton, 2. Markquese Bell, 3. Juanyeh Thomas, 4. Tycen Anderson, 5. Sterling Weatherford

Traditional S: 1. Lewis Cine, 2. Jaquan Brisker, 3. Bubba Bolden, 4. Kerby Joseph, 5. Nick Cross

 

 

Bears Mock Drafts

The Bears should spend all their premium picks on helping Justin Fields. With the camp move to put Jenkins at right tackle and Borom at left, there are two clear holes on the O-Line (LT and RG). There’s also still a hole at receiver, despite an admirable attempt to bring serviceable talent into the building by Ryan Poles. Knowing that this is the Bears plan, I think the Bears will be looking at two lineman and a wide receiver in some order for their Day 2 picks. After that is defensive depth. For better or worse, I think the Front Office has reached a point where they believe their efforts have given them starters at every position. Depth and role players should be developed via the draft at both DT spots, the outside CB spot, the Will LB spot, the SS spot, and the strong-side DE spot. Perhaps another receiver or interior O-Lineman could also be in store on Day 3. Knowing that, let’s get to the picks.

With Trades on PFF

Credit to PFF

Analysis:

PFF’s big board and grading system is insane giving this a B-. Every single need the Bears have was hit; every player taken adds something to the team; and in two years’ time I would estimate that half a dozen of these guys will be getting starters reps. George Pickens falling into our lap should be every Bears fan’s personal wish to the football gods next week. He is exactly what is missing from this team- size, physicality, potential, attitude. After that, my only advice to the Bears (which I follow here) is trade down and keeping your eyes on the o-line. This team has too many holes and not enough youth to be leaving this draft with just 6 prospects. With no must grab o-lineman falling to us at 48 or 71, I recouped more late picks without moving out of the premium Day 2 slots themselves. When it came time to build the line in front of Justin, I grabbed a Day 1 starter at right guard in Jamaree Salyer (yes, he’s a guard- PFF doesn’t like to project college tackles inside even when they’re clearly a better fit there) and Nicholas Petit-Frere, who could start if he outplays Larry Borom in training camp (not very hard). My last Day 2 pick was to add an irresistible scheme fit in Martin Emerson. Emerson is like a Platonic ideal of a Cover 2 Zone corner: long, tall, reactive? Check. Slow and poor in man? Also check. He should be able to start by midseason in this corner room that is especially weak on the outside. Day 3 was especially about building defensive depth- Neil Farrell Jr. can provide pass rush juice at either interior spot in ways that Khyiris Tonga and Justin Jones simply have not shown, Tycen Anderson will push a weak strong safety room for snaps, D’Marco Jackson is a downhill hitter on defense who has decent experience with dropping into zones from the MIKE position, and Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa has the size to play the bigger body strong side DE needed for this system and not currently on the roster. Josh Johnson was a slot only player in college whose got surprising strength as a blocker and has excelled in bad situations; I would rather have him as my slow depth receiver than Dazz Newsome. This is an ideal crop of players to kick off the next era of Bears football with, given what we have to work with.

 

Bears Depth Chart in this scenario

QB: Justin Fields- Trevor Simien

HB: David Montgomery- Khalil Herbert

X Receiver: George Pickens- Equanimeous St. Brown

Y Receiver: Darnell Mooney- David Moore

Slot: Byron Pringle- Josh Johnson

TE: Cole Kmet- Ryan Griffin

LT: Nicholas Petit Frere- Julien Davenport

LG: Cody Whitehair- Willie Wright

C: Lucas Patrick- Sam Mustipher

RG: Jamaree Salyer- Dakota Dozier

RT: Teven Jenkins- Larry Borom

 

LE: Al-Quadin Muhammed- Mario Edwards

1-Tech DT: Khyiris Tonga- Angelo Blackson

3-Tech DT: Justin Jones- Neil Farrell Jr.

RE: Robert Quinn- Trevis Gipson

Mike LB: Roquan Smith- D’Marco Jackson

Will LB: Nicholas Morrow- Caleb Johnson

CB: Jaylon Johnson- Kindle Vildor

CB: Martin Emerson- Thomas Graham

Nickel: Tavon Young- Duke Shelley

FS: Eddie Jackson- DeAndre Houston-Carson

SS: Dane Cruikshank- Tycen Anderson

 

Without Trades

Credit to the Draft Network

Analysis: The Draft Network’s board is leaps and bounds more accurate than PFF’s and thus more fun to use. Alas, it costs money to trade on their Mock Draft Machine, and I don’t love the draft that much. So, I can only use it in this mock where the Bears stay put. The Bears follow the same plan as the last in this one but are more short-handed in their defensive retooling. Pickens remains the main target, but the space to get him at 48 allows for us to get a better guard than Salyer in Tyler Smith. Smith, who I comped to Kyle Long in my last article, is a nasty finisher with tackle flexibility whose powerful enough to halt bull rushers in their tracks and flatten linebackers at the second level. He’s certainly preferrable to Salyer at Guard. Elsewhere we have Josh Williams, who’s longer and more man flexible than Emerson but not as experienced in Eberflus’s scheme or with high level competition. His ceiling is higher than Emerson’s, but his floor is lower. Max Mitchell is a pass protector who can fill in on the right and the left. No Tackle on the roster now is on par with Mitchell’s ability to keep a QB upright, which is why he’s so needed. Those last two picks provide potential late round defensive starters. Otito Ogbonnia has longer arms and a more effective push into the pocket than Khyiris Tonga and should play him off the field. Markquese Bell is a starting caliber traditional NFL strong safety at 6’2, 210. If he played for an SEC school instead of Florida A&M, an HBCU, he’d be a cinch for Day 2. Instead, he’s hanging around here for teams who want a player like Jaquan Brisker but can’t afford the top 40 pick. Incredible instincts in coverage and strength as a tackler should put him in a position to start wherever he goes.

 

Bears Depth Chart in this scenario

QB: Justin Fields- Trevor Simien

HB: David Montgomery- Khalil Herbert

X Receiver: George Pickens- Equanimeous St. Brown

Y Receiver: Darnell Mooney- David Moore

Slot: Byron Pringle- Dazz Newsome

TE: Cole Kmet- Ryan Griffin

LT: Larry Borom- Julien Davenport

LG: Cody Whitehair- Willie Wright

C: Lucas Patrick- Sam Mustipher

RG: Tyler Smith- Dakota Dozier

RT: Teven Jenkins- Max Mitchell

 

LE: Al-Quadin Muhammed- Mario Edwards

1-Tech DT: Otito Ogbonnia- Khyiris Tonga

3-Tech DT: Justin Jones- Angelo Blackson

RE: Robert Quinn- Trevis Gipson

Mike LB: Roquan Smith- Noah Dawkins

Will LB: Nicholas Morrow- Caleb Johnson

CB: Jaylon Johnson- Kindle Vildor

CB: Thomas Graham- Josh Williams

Nickel: Tavon Young- Duke Shelley

FS: Eddie Jackson- DeAndre Houston-Carson

SS: Dane Cruikshank- Markquese Bell

 

Full Mock Drafts

Predictive 3-Round Mock

Credit to PFF
Credit to PFF
Credit to PFF

Bears get:

39. George Pickens, WR, Georgia

48. Tyler Smith, G, Tulsa

78. Martin Emerson, CB, Miss. State

99. Zach Tom, OT, Wake Forest

 

Trades:

  • Trade: Steelers Receive #7, Giants Receive #20, #84, and a 1st Rounder next year
    • Steelers move up for the QB they’ve had their eyes on, Joe Schoen get more room to build his roster, including the potential for 2 firsts to package for a quarterback next year. Back-to-back years the Giants pick up a first while another team trades up for their QB.
  • Trade: Texans Receive #10, #117, Jets Receive #13, #107, 2nd Rounder Next year
    • Texans guarantee a top-5 player who they don’t have on their roster in Gardner, Jets see no downside knowing a top tier receiver will still be there in 3 picks.
  • Trade: Bills Receive #23, Cardinals receive #25, #89
    • Bills guarantee they get their new starting corner, their only strong need, and Cardinals gain picks
  • Trade: Bengals Receive #28, #171, Packers receive #31, #95, Joseph Ossai
    • Bengals guarantee they get a blue-chip prospect to grow with Burrow a la Manning and Saturday, Packers gain even more ammunition and a pass rusher that fits their scheme better than the Bengals
  • Trade: Cardinals Receive #32, Lions Receive #55, 2nd and 4th Rounder next year
    • Cardinals jump up for a high-level talent worth a 5-year contract, Lions get ammunition if they need a new QB next year
  • Trade: Colts Receive #35, Jets Receive #42, #179, and 3rd Rounder next year
    • Colts fill their biggest need at left tackle, Jets get draft capital to keep building in Wilson’s rookie window
  • Trade: Ravens Receive #41, Seahawks Receive #45 and #100
    • Ravens guarantee they get their slot corner in their man system, Seahawks get more picks for the rebuild
  • Trade: Buccaneers Receive #56, Cowboys Receive #60, #133, 4th Rounder next year
    • Buccaneers ensure they get their 3-tech they no longer have; Cowboys don’t lose much and have a surprising number of holes to fill.
  • Trade: Ravens Receive #59, Packers Receive #76, #196, 3rd Rounder next year
    • Ravens stop an EDGE player who fits their scheme’s fall
  • Trade: Patriots Receive #63, 2023 3rd Rounder, Bengals Receive #85, 2022 2nd Rounder
    • Bill stops a Michigan EDGE’s fall… again. Ojabo may not play this year due to his Achilles injury at his pro day, but next year look out. Bengals also get a high-level pick next year in case some holes present themselves in the post-Super Bowl comedown.
  • Trade: Browns receive #71, 2023 4th, Bears Receive #78, #99
    • Bears get more picks to rebuild their roster, Browns get a falling receiver who can start in the slot right away.
  • Broncos Receive #105, #220, 49ers Receive #115, #145
    • Broncos get a Noah Fant replacement on Day 2; 49ers don’t have many needs left

 

Some Key Points

4. Robert Saleh doesn’t strike me as the type to believe in Thibodeaux’s “attitude concerns”.

11. This is Hamilton’s floor, whatever the media has convinced you about his 40 time.

21. Bill’s no dummy- he knows he needs a corner as much as he needs a linebacker, and quality LBs are more common Day 2 than quality CBs.

24. Jerry’s not letting an Arkansas boar hunter escape his newly WR-needy team post Amari Cooper

26. Ridder really is a similar skill set to Tannehill- if this happens and Ridder performs well in camp, don’t be surprised to see Tannehill as a 53-man cut.

34. That’s two Michigan boys for the Lions first two picks- no homer bias at all.

37 and 57. PLEASE SWAP BREECE HALL AND KENNETH WALKER

40 and 43. Both these teams need QB, and both these guys could feasibly start this year for these teams- they’re both lesser copies of the QBs they’ll be in the shadow of (Russell Wilson for Howell, Marcus Mariota for Corral).

47. Unfortunately, this is a mistake. Can’t fix it. While not impossible, Pitre and Hamilton would likely play the same role on this team- unless they wanted Pitre to play full time slot corner. Perhaps Drake London could’ve gone to the Commanders at 11.

54. See: Bill got his man. Chenal may have been interesting for the Patriots, but Christian Harris has all the Patriot traits- good in man, good blitzer, from Bill’s friend in Tuscaloosa.

55. Jared Goff with a stronger arm. A very sensible pick for the Lions- Strong could be a simple backup to Goff, could start in his stead, could start in his own right next year, or could just be a regular backup to whoever they can grab with their large number of picks next year.

62. Chiefs always take a second-round linebacker, and always need another.

79. Chargers probably needed a tackle earlier, but there were none worth it on the board.

83. This should be David Bell. I vacillated between the two for a while, and on reflection I made the wrong choice.

85. Bengals TE room is currently very heavy with blocking options- expect a lighter mover like Likely, who’s long been comped to Evan Engram

94. Clyde Edwards-Hellaire will have to figure the NFL out quick with Pierce nipping at his heels.

 

1-Round Mock, What I Would Do

Here I’m trying out some different looks. The goal here was to take the Best Player Available that could start right away for each team in their scheme. This leads to some different looking picks and some new scenarios. I do not envy being in the shoes of some of these teams in this scenario- big needs were often avoided to find a sure starter.

Credit to The Draft Network
Credit to the Draft Network

1-Round Mock, Rankings to Needs

This one looks really funny- I simply lined up my player rankings to what The Draft Network said each team’s biggest unfilled need was. Check need, consult list, and boom, Pick! As a result, Boye Mafe goes before Malik Willis and Nicholas Petit Frere before Tyler Linderbaum. Not great!

Credit to The Draft Network
Credit to The Draft Network

NFC North Mock Draft

Credit to the Draft Network
Credit to the Draft Network

Bears:

39. Tyler Smith

48. George Pickens

71. Abraham Lucas

148. Montaric Brown

150. Eyioma Uwazurike

176. Nick Grant

 

We did a lot of what we have talked about in previous drafts. The focus is again on helping Justin with earlier picks and building defensive depth with the later ones. Very happy Pickens still got to us, and Smith and Lucas could easily crack the starting lineup. Uwazurike is an ideal 3-tech prospect that makes a lot of sense. We’ve been over the Bears and their needs, so I’ll keep this short. Smith should be the target at guard, not tackle. That is, if he doesn’t go first round. Brown and Grant would not be my choices in the secondary but they were the best options available.

 

Lions:

2. Kayvon Thibodeaux

32. Desmond Ridder

34. Nakobe Dean

66. Marcus Jones

97. Alec Pierce

177. Verone McKinley III

181. Hassan Haskins

217. Kalon Barnes

 

The Lions could very realistically walk out of the draft with Hutchinson, Hill, and Haskins. Here, only Haskins makes the hour drive from Ann Arbor, but the Lions fill their roster with valuable role additions. Thibodeaux is still the best EDGE prospect in the class. Ridder can do everything Goff can do inside the pocket and so much more outside of it; getting him with a fifth-year option at 32 would be a windfall. Nakobe Dean brings coverage ability not currently present in Detroit’s current linebacker room while still carrying the same fire through contact and strength as a blitzer that Dan Campbell covets. Marcus Jones is all the returner the recently departed Jamal Agnew is and twice the man corner in the slot. Alec Pierce, who I comped to DJ Chark, can back up the injury prone Chark and is reunited with his college QB. McKinley III slides into depth safety, Haskins can potentially develop as a Jamaal Williams replacement, and Kalon Barnes provides speed that neither Okudah nor Oruwariye do at outside corner.

 

Packers:

22. Chris Olave

28. Kenyon Green

53. DeMarvin Leal

59. Leo Chenal

92. Jeremy Ruckert

132. Dominique Robinson

140. Jack Jones

171. Matt Araiza

228. Vederian Lowe

249. Amari Carter

 

The Packers got a nice little draft here. They are unexpectedly loaded with Draft capital (Two Rd 1 and two Rd 2 picks). The signing of Sammy Watkins to man the true X role leaves the Packers room to move the multi-faceted Olave all over the formation- he has the floor and the downfield ability not present elsewhere on this team that Aaron Rodgers will love. Elgton Jenkins move to tackle means the Packers suddenly need guard- and why not another guard like Jenkins who can move to tackle when needed as well? Elsewhere DeMarvin Leal and Dominique Robinson replace the pass rushing juice lost with Za’Darius Smith- Leal can play all over the front and provide one on one’s for the Packers stars to get home, while Robinson can develop behind Preston Smith into a more traditional OLB role. Between them, Chenal and Ruckert just feel like Packers picks- role players defined by their play strength who will truly excel in this situation. Chenal in particular is a steal as downhill backer (and a homer). The rest was depth- Jones gives them a true slot corner while Jaire shadows other teams number 1’s, Araiza is kicking our dear departed Pat O’Donnell out of a job, and Vederian Lowe is worth a flier given how injury prone Bakhtiari has proven. Amari Carter rounds at the list- a flier at safety depth.

 

Vikings:

12. Derek Stingley Jr.

46. Jaquan Brisker

77. Phidarian Mathis

156. Bo Melton

184. Cade Mays

191. James Mitchell

192. Kellen Diesch

250. Zakoby McClain

 

The Vikings are a team that feel like they should be in transition- new coach, new GM, aging key players like Cousins, Thielen, Hunter, Kendricks, Peterson, and Harrison Smith. And yet they don’t have very much capital and have a lot of financial commitments tied up in those names. The primary need currently is defensive, largely in the secondary. All of Mike Zimmer’s hard work has led to naught. Here, they get an alpha corner to train under fellow LSU alum PatPete and a versatile safety who can develop FS characteristics easily or be groomed as Smith’s eventual replacement. Phil Mathis rounds out Day 2 to join an iDL left a little barren by the conversion to a 3-4 and the departure of Michael Pierce. Then, with major defensive needs solved, I tried to build depth a hundred picks later. Bo Melton can play right away in the slot for 3-receiver sets and has the skill set to take a larger workload once this team moves on from Thielen. At O-Line, Cade Mays may be a rough scheme fit for this zone offense, but a guard was desperately needed to keep Jesse Davis off the field, while Kellen Diesch fits the scheme perfectly but is badly physically limited (play strength)- a happy marriage on a team without much depth at tackle. James Mitchell can block some behind Irv Smith in a newly weak tight end room. Zakoby McClain gives a little youth and juice to the old duo of Eric Kendricks and Jordan Hicks.

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