The first-ever Bleacher Report Community Mock Draft is underway!
Every team's general manager is a B/R Featured Columnist. They are:
Bears: Rob Tong (that's me)
Bengals: Chris Roling
Bills: Chris Trapasso
Broncos: Brian Silberberg
Browns: Mike Hoag
Buccaneers: Jon Siddoway
Cardinals: Shaun Church
Chargers: Mike Walkusky
Chiefs: Derek Estes
Colts: Eric Smith
Cowboys: Alex Hall
Dolphins: Alessandro Miglio
Eagles: Ron Pasceri
Falcons: Scott Carasik
49ers: Jesse Reed
Giants: Jake Silver
Jaguars: David Levin
Jets: Danny Paskas
Lions: Nick Kostora
Packers: Matt Stein
Panthers: Tyler Horner
Patriots: Aaron Dodge
Raiders: Fernando Gallo
Rams: Shane Gray
Ravens: Shawn Brubaker
Redskins: Dan Hope
Saints: Will Osgood
Seahawks: Darin Pike
Steelers: Mike Batista
Texans: Ryan Alfieri
Titans: Daniel Barnes
Vikings: Brian Dezelske
I asked veteran B/R Bears Featured Columnist Bob Warja to join me in the Bears war room for this draft. After assessing our team's needs, we agreed to be aggressive in taking the best player available, even if he doesn't meet an identified positional need.
In other words, our shared philosophy was to not ignore a potential stud just to fill a position.
It's time for action, Jackson.
[Edit: Updated this article to include the rest of Round 1.]
The very first thing I wanted to do as Bears' mock GM was sign Pittsburgh restricted free agent and elite wide receiver Mike Wallace, which would require giving Pittsburgh our first-round draft pick. The Bears could fit Wallace under the cap with room to spare—as long as Wallace doesn't want more than $8 million per year.
I discussed this idea with Bob and he was fully on board. We were both excited at having a sure-fire top-10 WR opposite Brandon Marshall for the cost of a low first-round draft pick.
However, after running it past the Community Mock Draft commissioner, the idea was shot down. The commish, who also liked the deal, argued that the deal probably wouldn't be made on draft day.
Sigh. Back to the drawing board.
Bob and I discussed several potential draft targets, including OLT Jonathan Martin and CB Dre Kirkpatrick.
However, we both agreed that wide receiver would be ideal if Michael Floyd was available.
That said, Floyd was unlikely to be around when our turn at No. 19 came up. So we considered a backup plan.
I felt a dominating pass rusher would be my choice for second position of need. Bob affirmed that option. Melvin Ingram (unlikely to be available at No. 19 but stranger things have happened) or Whitney Mercilus (might be available at No. 19) would be our Plan B.
If neither of those were available, then our Plan C was to go with a true left tackle, like Jonathan Martin, to bolster Jay Cutler's blind side.
The reason I preferred a pass rusher over a left tackle was that if the Bears are to compete with the elite teams of the NFL for the Super Bowl, they will need to put heat on those elite QBs. For example, the Super Bowl champion Giants showed the value of a superior defensive line against elite QB Tom Brady.
On the other hand, of the perennial Super Bowl teams (Green Bay, New York Giants, Green Bay, New England), only New Orleans has an above-average offensive line. So those Super Bowl teams have demonstrated you can be champions without needing a superior offensive line.
Kirkpatrick would be our Plan D. A shutdown corner isn't necessary in Lovie's Cover-2 defense, but an athlete like Kirkpatrick would be the Best Player Available if Floyd, Ingram/Mercilus and Martin were all gone.
Finally, if Floyd, Ingram/Mercilus, Martin and Kirkpatrick were all taken, we both liked center Peter Konz. While the Bears aren't in dire need of a center, Konz at No. 19 would be tough to pass up. He would be our Plan E.
With several options and a clear priority plan in place, we waited for the draft to unfold.
Here's how the first five picks went down. No surprises here.
1. IND—QB Andrew Luck
2. WAS—QB Robert Griffin III
3. MIN—LT Matt Kalil
4. CLE—WR Justin Blackmon
5. TB—CB Morris Claiborne
The first curveball came with the No. 6 pick.
6. STL—RB Trent Richardson
7. JAX—DE Melvin Ingram
The Cowboys traded with Miami to move up from No. 14 to No. 8.
8. DAL—DT Michael Brockers
9. CAR—G David DeCastro
10. BUF—WR Michael Floyd
Not surprisingly, there goes Plan A. Also not surprisingly, part of Plan B is also gone when Jacksonville took Ingram. Now, we're hoping Mercilus, Jonathan Martin or Dre Kirkpatrick falls to us. Eight more picks to go...
11. KC—OT Riley Reiff
12. SEA—DE Quinton Coples
Pittsburgh traded with Arizona to move up from No. 24 to No. 13.
13. PIT—DT Dontari Poe
New England trade with Miami to move up from No. 27 to No. 14. Notice Miami has moved down from No. 8 all the way down to No. 27.
14. NE—LB Luke Kuechly
15. PHI—DT Fletcher Cox
16. NYJ—S Mark Barron
17. CIN—WR Kendall Wright
18. SD—LB Nick Perry
Receiver Stephen Hill is still on the board. So is Mercilus. As are Martin and Dre Kirkpatrick.
Several good options.
With the No. 19 pick of the 2012 B/R Community Mock Draft, the Bears select...
With Floyd long gone, I considered Kendall Wright, but thought No. 19 too high for him. As it turns out, Cincinnati took the decision out of my hands.
While I liked receiver Stephen Hill's potential and raw measurables, there's more to being a successful wide receiver than just 40 times and vertical leap numbers. Hill's lack of college production is a concern.
Bob and I both were open to Hill as a second-round pick, but Hill is too risky as a first-round choice. I'd like a slam dunk for our first-round pick, not a project.
We liked OT Martin and CB Kirkpatrick but, as mentioned earlier, Bob and I agreed DE was more important than OT and CB, so I stuck to our original plan.
And with Mercilus still on the board, he was too good to pass up.
Just as we didn't want to reach at receiver once Floyd was gone, I wouldn't want to reach at defensive end if Mercilus was gone. At that point, we would have taken Martin instead.
But since Mercilus was still there, it was a moot point. Mercilus is our man.
Ranking anywhere from No. 2 to No. 4 on defensive end prospect lists, Mercilus is a pass-rushing beast who has an explosive first step that leads to elite quickness into the backfield or transitions into a powerful bull rush.
He outplayed OSU's Mike Adams—one of the highly-rated left tackles in this year's draft—with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Mercilus also shined against Wisconsin's powerful o-line. He also had a solid combine showing, as well as a strong pro day.
The Bears defensive line was often not a factor in too many games last year and at key times in games. Julius Peppers was routinely double-teamed.
But with Mercilus opposite Peppers now, offenses won't be able to afford to double up Peppers. That, in turn, makes Peppers more effective. With enormous pressure coming from two different spots on the defensive line, the Bears can neutralize those elite quarterbacks that the Bears will need to beat in order to become a Super Bowl contender.
An instant starter who will make his presence felt, our Mercilus pick was also praised as a strong move by Packers' mock GM Matt Stein. But no time to get too excited. Time to focus on our second round pick, which will be discussed in the next article in this series.
And here's how the rest of Round One concluded...
20. TEN—CB Dre Kirkpatrick
21. CIN—OG Cordy Glenn
22. CLE—OT Jonathan Martin
23. DET—OT Mike Adams
Remember, Arizona traded down with Pittsburgh earlier in the draft.
24. ARI—WR Stephen Hill
25. DEN—DT Devon Still
The Texans traded down with Green Bay.
26. GB—LB Courtney Upshaw
Remember, Miami traded from No. 8 all the way down to No. 27. Very wise move because they targeted this guy and knew none of the other teams would take him before this spot so they accumulated extra draft picks while still getting their guy.
27. MIA—QB Ryan Tannehill
Houston traded down yet again, exchanging picks with the Vikings.
28. MIN—CB Janoris Jenkins
29. BAL—C Peter Konz
Miami trades up this time, giving away their third-round pick acquired from the Brandon Marshall trade to San Francisco, to move up here and get a target for Tannehill. Very nice plan by Dolphins mock GM Alex Miglio.
30. MIA—TE Coby Fleener
Jacksonville trades with New England to get another first-round pick.
31. JAX—WR Alshon Jeffery
32. NYG—RB Lamar Miller
That concludes Round One. A lot of activity and a few surprises. Also different from many mocks I've seen.
What's in store for Round Two? I'll cover that in the next article in this series.