Round 1 (trade down with Miami): Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois: The Chicago Bears’ number one need going into next week’s draft is at the safety position. With Phil Emery mentioning in his pre-draft press conference that they have gotten offers to trade down, I feel the Bears would be best suited doing just that.
In this mock, I have the Bears trading down to the No. 19 pick (Miami Dolphins) and selecting safety Jimmie Ward. Ward is a bit undersized at 5-10, 191 pounds, but his athleticism and overall instincts overshadow that. He does a fine job patrolling the deep part of the field as he has the speed to cover a lot of areas on the backend.
Ward has also shown the ability to come up and defend slot WRs, which will come in handy in the NFC North against guys like Randall Cobb, Golden Tate and Jarius Wright. He also does a good job making the plays on the ball, as this past year he collected 10 pass defenses and seven interceptions.
Against the run, Ward is not scared to come up to the line of scrimmage and make a tackle; he finished the season with 95 tackles. If he was a few inches taller, I believe he would be a top-15 pick, but if the Bears can trade down and get him, while gaining an extra pick, it would be a great value move.
Round 2: Will Sutton, DT, Arizona State: The DT position is still an area of need despite the fact that the club feels confident in what they have in Jeremiah Ratliff. The Bears are not going away from being a one-gap defense, so the need for a penetrating three-technique is glaring. Chicago has shown a lot of interest in second round DT prospects, but they have shown the most interest in Arizona State’s Will Sutton.
Sutton was dominant in 2012 (63 tackles, 13 sacks, 23.5 tackles for a loss, five pass break ups and three forced fumbles) but struggled mightily in 2013 when the team asked him to add more weight and he went from 280 to 315 pounds in preparation to have more two-gap responsibilities.
Sutton is best playing in the 280-290 weight range (he was 295 at the Combine) as a three-technique with one-gap responsibilities. He’s very explosive off the snap and does a great job hand battling with opposing OGs. Sutton is a relentless interior pass rusher, who beats guards with power or quickness. He’s still developing as a run-stopper, but he has the ability to contribute as a situational pass rusher in his first year.
Round 3 (acquired from Miami): Dri Archer, RB/KR/WR, Kent State: The west coast offense doesn’t necessarily need an explosive speedster in its offense, but Dri Archer in Trestman’s offense would be an absolute luxury. Archer is explosive as a RB, as the Kent State star is quick finding a running lane and breaking off the big play.
When he gets to the outside, he’s a tough for opposing LBs to get an angle on because of his speed and elusiveness. As a WR, Archer is weapon out the backfield with the ability to flex outside and draw match-ups against LBs. He speed and athleticism is even a tough draw for most nickel backs.
Archer also proved to be a weapon on special teams as a kick returner and could provide intense competition for Chris Williams (signed late in the 2013 season) and Dominick Hixon (UFA addition). He would give the Bears another dimension to their offense while also filling the void left by Hester as a returner.
Round 3: Jordan Tripp, LB, Montana: The Bears want to continue getting younger at the LB position with Lance Briggs and D.J. Williams on the wrong side of 30. They have young guys in Shea McClellin, Jon Bostic, and Khaseem Greene, but none are a fit at MLB, a position lacking depth.
Montana’s Jordan Tripp is an extremely athletic linebacker who can get sideline-to-sideline quickly and drop deep into coverage. Tripp is a physical player in run support, who has shown the ability to lower the boom on opposing RBs. Tripp is a developmental player but has the potential to develop into a solid starter at inside LB. His athleticism and speed would be a welcome addition on special teams coverage in his first year.
Round 4: Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida: Bringing back veteran CB Charles Tillman was a smart move by Emery as it gives him the flexibility to look for his eventual replacement in the later rounds. Watkins, while not a big corner at 5-11, 194 pounds, has the man coverage ability, along with the speed and quickness, to develop into a solid starting corner. Watkins is talented enough to contribute right away as a third corner in the Bears’ nickel formation.
Round 5: Jake Murphy, TE, Utah: The Bears desperately need to find a backup receiving TE, as the depth behind starter Martellus Bennett is questionable to say the least. Murphy could be another weapon for Trestman’s offense as a “move TE” that can cause mismatches on the perimeter against opposing TEs and slot corners.
Murphy isn’t an extremely athletic TE, but he’s a sure handed receiver who knows how to get open. He’s also a decent in-line blocker; throwing out the predictability factor when lined up in two-TE formation.
Round 6: Derrick Hopkins, DT, Virginia Tech: We know how much Phil Emery values versatility, and Hopkins is a guy who can line up as either a one-technique NT or three-technique DT. This could be a steal if Hopkins drops this far in the draft, as he could develop into a solid rotational player.
Round 6: James White, RB, Wisconsin: Although I have confidence that Michael Ford can be a solid backup to Matt Forte, the Bears could bring in competition for the backup spot. White is a small back at 5-9, 204 pounds, but he plays bigger than his listed size.
White also contributes in the passing game as a receiver and blocker, which is something the Bears wanted to see from Ford last year before moving him up the depth chart over the struggling Michael Bush. If Chicago doesn’t spend a pick on a RB in the draft they could become a top destination for UDFA RBs because of the chance to contribute right away.