It’s only been slightly more than a couple of weeks, and I’ve already switched up the picks from my first mock draft. But hey, it’s my party and I’ll change if I want to. With that in mind, here are my latest picks, with the understanding that the draft status of each player is fluid this time of year, especially before the Scouting Combine.
1st Round: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
I still want the Bears to take a left tackle with their first pick, but the guy I took last time, Eric Fisher, is moving up on the boards and probably will not be there at No. 20. ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. has Fisher going seventh to the Cardinals. With that in mind, I’m selecting left tackle Lane Johnson out of Oklahoma. He had a very good week of practices at the Senior Bowl, so his draft stock is also improving.
Kiper has Johnson projected to go at No. 16 to the Rams (who have two first-round picks), so even his availability is not certain for the Bears. If Johnson is gone, D.J. Fluker from Alabama is my alternate selection. He is a very big man, but carries his weight well. In fact, that’s who Kiper has the Bears taking. And, despite the ego, you have to grudgingly admit that Kiper knows his stuff.
Just stay away from his hair stylist.
Previous Selection: Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
2nd Round: Travis Kelce, TE, Stanford
I still believe it’s important for the Bears not to ignore the defense, despite the obvious fact that Marc Trestman was brought in to improve the ailing offense. That said, the offense does need the most upgrades, and now that they have their LT of the future, let’s get a tight end who can help bring the Bears’ offense into the 21st century, shall we?
For many scouts, Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert and Stanford’s Zach Ertz are very similar; in fact, no one has ever seen the two of them at the same time together. But in all seriousness, Ertz seems to be moving ahead of Eifert and will easily be gone by the time the Bears pick in the second round. Rumor has it (hello Adelle fans!) that the 49ers are interested in Ertz, which is not surprising considering Jim Harbaugh’s connections to Stanford.
Since both of the TEs will be off the board, the Bears’ only hope of landing either would be to trade up or hold a gun to someone’s head, and Emery just doesn’t seem the type to me. Barring that, I’ll take Travis Kelce, a red-shirt senior from Cincinnati and the brother of Eagles’ center Jason Kelce. He was originally my fourth-round pick in the previous mock, but his stock is rising quickly and he’s the next-best TE on the board. And again, it’s my mock so there!
Previous Selection: Kevin Minter, LB, LSU. Although I like him, Minter will likely be taken late in the first round.
4th Round: Brian Winters, OT/OG, Kent State
Staying with the offensive theme, the Bears take their second offensive lineman in Winters, who is projected as a possible late third-round to early fourth-round pick, so the Bears may need to move up a bit to be in position to land him. Coming from the MAC, he hasn’t received a lot of attention, but the kid can play.
Winters has started at both tackle positions, though many scouts project him at guard because he does not have elite athleticism. But he looked good playing the guard position at the Senior Bowl, and his toughness and physicality is unmatched. Winters would be an exceptional value this late in the draft.
Previous Selection: Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
5th Round: William Gholston, DE, Michigan State
I had the Bears taking a center last time, and though I know they need to upgrade there (and get younger); with two picks devoted to the line already, it’s time to go defense. I know that Gholston is projected to go fourth round and even earlier by some publications, but I have seen him projected as late as the fifth round, due to character issues.
That said, the 6-foot-7, 278-pound Gholston, who had 59 tackles and 4.5 sacks in his junior season, isn’t an elite pass rusher yet but he has upside. And yes, he punched a Wisconsin player and tried to take Denard Robinson’s head off, but then again, this is the fifth round people. Choir boys who are elite aren’t still around this late.
By the way, if his name sounds familiar, it’s because he’s the cousin of Vernon Gholston, the former first-round bust. But don’t hold that against him … or he might try to take your head off, too!
Previous Selection: Brian Scwenke, C, California
6th Round: Bruce Taylor, LB, Virginia Tech
Inside linebackers don’t grow on trees, especially this late in the draft. But Taylor has the chance to actually stick with a team, contributing on special teams (since he tackles well), or at least be a candidate for the practice squad. He wraps guys up well, which is the first thing I look for in a linebacker. His instincts aren’t the best, his field awareness is not great and he lacks first-step quickness. (But other than that, how’d you like the play Mrs. Lincoln?) Yet despite all that, he does have a good closing burst and raw power to set the edge.
Previous Selection: Eric Martin, DE, Nebraska
So there you have it. Congratulations if you’ve made it this far. Now tell me what you think.
Have a look at our other Chicago Bears Huddle Draft contributor, Dominique Blanton's pre-Combine mock, too!
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