With the NFL Scouting Combine one week away, I give you my pre-combine mock draft for the Chicago Bears.
1st round: Zach Ertz, Stanford, Tight End (Bears Trade Down to 25th pick)
In this scenario, the Bears trade down with the Seattle Seahawks, who could be targeting a defensive tackle with their first-round pick (Sheldon Richardson or Kawann Short should be there at #20). Phil Emery highlighted, in his end-of-year press conference, Kellen Davis’ struggles this past season, which should be an indication that they will be in the market for a pass-catching TE.
Right now, Ertz is the best TE prospect in the Draft in my opinion. There are very few weaknesses in his game; he’s a complete receiver at the position. He’s a superb receiver in the middle of the field. He’s a superior route runner for his size (6-6, 249 pounds) and an athletic mismatch for most linebackers and safeties.
Ertz gives the Bears another red zone threat to pair with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, and he’s a player already well familiar with the west coast system (spent three years in it at Stanford). Ertz has the potential to be an elite TE at the next level.
2nd round: Dallas Thomas, Tennessee, Offensive Guard
I fully expect Emery to bring back Lance Louis on an incentive-laden contract, so right guard would be shored up. That leaves a hole at left guard, and the Bears can certainly find a starter in the second round. Larry Warford would be an ideal choice, but he’s likely to shoot up to the top of the second round, which should push down Dallas Thomas to the Bears’ pick.
Thomas is a plug-and-play player who would fit well in Marc Trestman’s and Aaron Kromer’s zone-blocking scheme. Thomas gives the Bears an athlete at the left guard position, and a strong pass protector to mirror speed rushers and hold up against bull rushes. In the run game, Thomas can get to the outside on designed outside run plays and has the mobility to hit blocks on the second level to spring the running back to big plays.
Thomas is not a mauler at OG, but he can be a solid pro in the right system.
3rd round: Stedman Bailey, West Virginia, Wide Receiver (Pick from Seattle Seahawks)
The Bears have a top-five WR in Brandon Marshall and a talented young player with tons of potential in Alshon Jeffery, but they need an explosive receiver to take the pressure off Marshall and Jeffery, who are more possession WRs than deep threats. Bailey is a pure deep threat who’s games relies more on quickness and textbook route running to help him generate big plays. He’s not necessary a burner like his teammate Tavon Austin, but he has good speed to be a factor in the deep passing game.
Bailey would give the Bears their own version of Randall Cobb. Like Cobb, Bailey can do damage both in the slot and on the outside, but at the next level his main position would be in slot in Trestman’s west coast offense.
4th round: A.J. Klein, Iowa State, Inside Linebacker
It’s looking more like the Bears will bring back Nick Roach and move on from Brian Urlacher. With Roach manning the middle linebacker position, new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker is going to need a strong-side LB. Klein played inside LB back at Iowa State, but showed that he could be very effective at OLB at the Senior Bowl.
Klein is a very instinctive LB who should fit perfectly in the Bears’ 4-3 defense at SLB. He has the speed to run with opposing TEs and does a solid job against the run, using his quickness to be disruptive in the backfield and around the line of scrimmage.
Klein is talented enough to win a starting job in training camp depending on the veteran he’s competing with. Short-term, Klein could be your starting SLB, but in the long-term could transition over to MLB.
5th round: Mario Benavides, Louisville, Center
Roberto Garza will be entering the final year of his contract, and with him turning 34 years-old next month the Bears will need to find a center in the draft to develop behind him. Benavides had an impressive career at Louisville; he’s quick and agile, with the ability to get to the outside and hit blocks on the second level. He’s also extremely solid in pass protection as he displays great instincts against opposing interior pass rushers.
Benavides is a good fit for Trestman and Kromer’s zone-blocking scheme.
6th round: Brandon McGee, Miami, Cornerback
The only cornerbacks under contract are Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Sherrick McManis, Isaiah Frey, and recently signed LeQuan Lewis. McGee would be good project for defensive backs coach Jon Hoke to develop. McGee is still raw as far as technique is concerned, but he’s an extremely good athlete who could contribute on special teams early in his career before competing for a starting job.
Have a look at our other Chicago Bears Huddle Draft contributor, Bob Warja's mock 2.0, too!
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