2017 NFL Mock Draft: Chicago Bears Edition 2.0

2017 NFL Mock Draft: Chicago Bears Edition 2.0
14 MAY 2016: Chicago Bears rookie running back Jordan Howard (24) in action during the Chicago Bears Rookie minicamp at Hallas Hall, in Lake Forest, IL. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 2017 NFL Draft is only nine days away. The free agency frenzy is over for most teams despite some minor moves ahead, but now is the time to study and analyze this year’s draft class.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace is getting ready for his third draft alongside head coach John Fox and company.

Last year, Pace took linebacker Leonard Floyd No. 9 overall and he showed flashes. Second round center Cody Whitehair and fifth round running back Jordan Howard proved to be absolute steals for the Bears.

Other notable picks: Defensive end Jonathan Bullard (3rd round), inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (4th round), safety Deon Bush (4th round) and cornerback Deiondre’ Hall (4th round).

In 2015, second round defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and fifth round safety Adrian Amos have proven to be steady contributors.

Other notable picks: Wide receiver Kevin White was take in the first round while center Hroniss Grasu was picked in the third round and running back Jeremy Langford was taken in the fourth round.

In last year’s mock draft, I successfully picked Jonathan Bullard and Deiondre’ Hall while the year before I got it right with the selection of Kevin White for the Bears.

2017 NFL Draft dates
Thursday, April 27, 8 p.m. ET – Round 1
Friday, April 28, 7 p.m. ET – Rounds 2-3
Saturday, April 29, 12 p.m. ET – Rounds 4-7

Here is the second edition of my Bears mock draft with analysis and breakdowns of each selection.

Round 1 (No. 3 overall): DE Solomon Thomas (Stanford)

Note: I had Thomas in the first edition and stuck with that selection here.

Myles Garrett is a lock for the No. 1 or No. 2 pick but San Francisco could pass up on Thomas. If the Stanford defensive end is there at No. 3, the Bears should pull the trigger. Barring a trade offer, I think Thomas is an absolute stud and a guy that would complete the front-7.

Alongside Akiem Hicks and Eddie Goldman, Thomas would be a Week 1 starter. Last year’s third round pick Jonathan Bullard didn’t show consistency this season, but that doesn’t mean he won’t contribute. Veterans Mitch Unrein, Will Sutton, John Jenkins, C.J. Wilson and Kapron Lewis-Moore won’t all make the roster.

At 6’3″, 273 lbs., he can be fit as a defensive end in both a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme. He crushed it at the NFL Combine last month with top performances in the bench press (30 repetitions), broad jump (126 inch), 3-cone drill (6.95 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.28 seconds). His 40-yard dash wasn’t bad either at 4.69 seconds.

Taking a redshirt season in 2014, he went on to start all 27 games the past two seasons, recording 101 tackles (25.5 for a loss), 11.5 sacks, two fumble recoveries, a fumble recovery and two defensive touchdowns.

Originally born in Chicago, Thomas lived in Australia before coming back to the U.S. via Texas, where he played high school football. Coming from a family of athletes where both of his parents played college sports and his uncle as well, Thomas has a strong upper body and is a developed edge rusher. The Bears would be ecstatic if he is there at No. 3 overall next month.

Round 2 (No. 36 overall): QB Deshaun Watson (Clemson)

Remember when Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater fell all the way to the last pick in the 2014 NFL Draft? Yea, I’m sure you do. Minnesota traded up to snag him on the end of Day 1.

Watson succeeded at a high level much like Bridgewater did at the collegiate level. However, Walter Football lays out the reasons why Watson is not a first-round selection. The site points out that none of the teams they’ve talked to have the Clemson quarterback as a first-round talent.

Also, one personnel guy from an NFC team had Watson as a third-round prospect.

Whether the Bears have to trade back up in the first round to take Watson or find him sitting there at No. 36, this would be an absolute prize for them. They need a quarterback to groom and Watson is a guy Pace and his staff are high on.

At 6’2″, 221 lbs., Watson has shown the ability to elude pressure and take on sacks when in trouble. He threw for 4,593 yards, 41 touchdowns, 17 interceptions and 67.0 completion percentage this past season. Watson also rushed for 629 yards and nine touchdowns.

Watson could very well wind up in the mid-part of the first round, but don’t be shocked to see the Bears land him late on the first day or early in the second round. Crazier things have happened in the NFL Draft.

Previous pick: QB Davis Webb (Cal)

Round 3 (No. 67 overall): S Justin Evans (Texas A&M)

The Bears need safety help. That is clear and with Adrian Amos, Harold Jones-Quartey and Deon Bush not getting the job done this past season, new young competition should be brought in.

Veteran Quintin Demps was brought in to hold down the back end, but the selection of Evans here would bring some boom to the position.

Evans is a hard downhill hitter who thrives in the box. At 6’0″, 199 lbs., he isn’t overwhelmingly big, but he fits the bill for Vic Fangio’s aggressive defense.

He totaled 165 tackles, five interceptions and 11 pass breakups as a two-year starter at Texas A&M. Evans had 85 tackles and four picks this past season as a senior.

Whether it is Evans or someone else here in the mid-rounds, safety is a spot that the Bears know they need to get better at. Evans would be a solid addition.

Previous pick: WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (USC)

Round 4 (No. 111 overall): DE/OLB Vince Biegel (Wisconsin) 

Veterans Lamarr Houston and Willie Young are each recovering from off-season surgeries. Last year’s top pick Leonard Floyd struggled to stay healthy as a rookie. Add in the fact that Pernell McPhee has been banged up and the Bears better hope those guys stay healthy.

Sam Acho is back on another one-year deal, but he’s a core special teamer who hasn’t had much success pass rushing as of late.

Adding Biegel here in the fourth round would give the Bears a young leader to work with. The 6’3″, 246-pounder was an absolute beast in high school, recording 172 tackles and 21 sacks as a senior at Wisconsin Lincoln.

He totaled 131 tackles (28.5 for a loss), 15 sacks, three pass breakups and two forced fumbles in four seasons at Wisconsin. Biegel had a career-high 5.5 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss as a sophomore.

Much like last year’s fourth round pick, inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski, Biegel is a four-year contributor and a guy you can trust on special teams and go from there. At the very least, he’ll give you good snaps as a situational edge rusher.

Previous pick: Lorenzo Jerome (St. Francis)

Round 4 (No. 117 overall): WR Josh Reynolds (Texas A&M)

Alshon Jeffery is gone and the Bears are looking to add a lengthy vertical threat.

Reynolds could come in and be a very good addition to the wideout room. Along with Kevin White, Cameron Meredith, Markus Wheaton, Kendall Wright and Daniel Braverman that would give the Bears some versatility. Veteran slot man Eddie Royal is still on the roster, but he is expected to be released.

At 6’3″, 194 lbs., Reynolds would be an ideal outside receiver opposite White and perhaps next to Meredith, a guy the Bears like to use in the slot as a mismatch. That would give them a ton of size.

Reynolds was a standout triple jumper and high jumper in high school. His senior season was a success at Texas A&M, where he caught 61 balls for 1,039 yards and 12 touchdowns. He hauled in 103 catches for 1,749 yards and 18 touchdowns from sophomore to junior season.

This is a highly productive playmaker and he would earn snaps right away due to his experience and ability to stretch the field.

Previous pick: T Adam Bisnowaty (Pittsburgh)

Round 5 (No. 147 overall): TE Jonnu Smith (Florida International)

Top tight end Zach Miller turns 33 in October and has been injury prone, to say the least. Dion Sims came over to be the blocking tight end in free agency. After that, Ben Braunecker, MyCole Pruitt and Daniel Brown are vying for roster spots.

Putting Smith in the mix would be ideal. He had 178 receptions for 2,0001 yards and 18 touchdowns in four seasons at FIU. Smith missed four games due to a knee injury as a junior. He also had an issue off the field this past season as his pregnant girlfriend dumped a pot of boiling water during a verbal disagreement.

This is a big reason why he’s available here in the fifth round.

He ran a 4.62-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February. His vertical jump (38.0 inches), broad jump (127.0 inches), 20-yard shuttle (4.18 seconds) and 60-yard shuttle (11.57 seconds) were all tops among the tight end group in Indianapolis.

Smith is a dangerous weapon in the middle of the field if he finds open space. As he continues to mature and get more consistent with his hands, the better he’ll be. He’ll be an option to replace Miller when that time comes.

Previous Pick: CB Jeremy Cutrer (Middle Tennessee State)

Round 7 (No. 221 overall): G Kyle Kalis (Michigan)

You can never have enough good offensive linemen. The Bears have found that out the hard the way, the past few seasons.

Ted Larsen left for Miami in free agency, so Eric Kush will serve as the top reserve guard behind starters Josh Sitton and Kyle Long. Hroniss Grasu will be back in the mix behind Cody Whitehair and could be pushed to one of the guard spots if need be.

Kalis would just be another seasoned body along the line. At 6’4″, 308 lbs., he has the size to hold his own in the NFL. He made 43 of his 50 starts exclusively at right guard. Kalis will be drafted by someone late on Day 3 and could be one of those guys that proves to be a starting guard at some point.

Previous pick: OLB Jalen Reeves-Maybin (Tennessee)

Thoughts on the second edition of the Bears’ mock draft?

In case you missed it: First Edition Bears’ Mock Draft

Make sure to follow Jake on Twitter, @Bearsbacker and on Facebook for up to the minute news about the Chicago Bears.

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