Chicago Bears 2012 Mock Draft: Full 7-Round Prediction
When we first started mocking the draft, it seemed like such a far away occurrence. But the 2012 NFL Draft begins on Thursday, April 26th, which is only about three weeks from now. It runs through Saturday, April 28th. For the Chicago Bears, it's their last chance to improve the team as they head into training camp.
The draft order has been finalized and the overall pick numbers are as follows:
Meanwhile, the main focus for many Bears fans is on who they will select with their first pick. Will it be a wide receiver, such as Michael Floyd or Stephen Hill, who could team with Brandon Marshall to give Chicago one of the top wideout combinations in the NFL?
Or will it be a pass-rusher, such as Melvin Ingram or Whitney Mercilus, who could team with Julius Peppers to give the Bears one of the best DE combinations in football?
Or will they take a left tackle to protect Jay Cutler's blind side and to replace the under-performing J'Marcus Webb? Alternatively, perhaps a cornerback to swat down passes from the likes of Aaron Rodgers?
Well, I will look into my crystal ball once again and give you the picks that I would like to see the Bears make in the draft. Let's go!
Round 1: Jonathan Martin, OT, Stanford
OK, so the Bears have gotten Jay Cutler the true No. 1 wideout he needed. Now they have to make sure he stays upright. J'Marcus Webb was terrible at left tackle last season, and the position is in serious need of an upgrade.
Therefore, welcome Martin, who did a solid job protecting QB Andrew Luck's blind side and scouts say he should be able to stay at LT in the pros.
Some have Ohio State's Mike Adams rated higher than Martin, but Adams had some questionable off-field stuff and did not show well on the bench press at the combine.
Meanwhile, Martin was sick so he did not work out at the combine. But he had a solid performance at his pro day.
In addition to providing reliable pass protection, Martin was a tenacious run blocker, and the Cardinal ran behind him all year with some huge successes on the ground.
With Michael Floyd and Melvin Ingram expected to go early, the pick, at least to me, really comes down to a choice of Martin or Illinois' Whitney Mercilus. I like Mercilus, but since this is the year of helping the offense, I'm going to go with the LT.
Round 2: Kevin Zeitler, OG, Wisconsin
I've been high on this kid for awhile even as a guard, but he impressed scouts by working out well under center at the combine. As a swing candidate, his versatility could really help the Bears, as he could play guard this season and replace Roberto Garza as the starting center in 2013.
Zeitler is familiar with the Bears' right tackle, Gabe Carimi, so they would work well on the line together. He opened holes for running back Montee Ball at Wisconsin and is strong at the point of attack.
Zeitler has better than average mobility and athletic ability. He also did a solid job in pass protection for quarterback Russell Wilson.
Zeitler and center Peter Konz were the two lead linemen who the Badgers ran behind as the team averaged 235.7 yards per game on the ground.
In fact, if Konz were still available at No. 50, which I do not think will happen, I would strongly consider taking him with this pick. Another good selection here would be Marshall's DE Vinny Curry.
Round 3: Marvin McNutt, WR, Iowa
The Bears do need to find a wideout in the draft and while it would be somewhat risky to wait until the third round, I do believe that McNutt will be there, although the Bears may need to move up a bit to get him.
But if he falls to Chicago, what a steal he would be. He has good size and ran faster than expected at the combine. He was good in field drills and performed well at the Senior Bowl.
WalterFootball.com states that McNutt "has been told that he could go in the Rounds 2-4 range." I'm not sure why he is ranked so low but he could be this year's draft steal for the Bears.
McNutt caught 82 balls for 1,315 yards and 12 touchdowns this year. Alternatively, if they take a WR in one of the earlier rounds, I might go cornerback with this pick.
Round 4: Audie Cole, ILB, North Carolina State
If TCU's Tank Carder slips, I would take him over Cole. But since Carder had a phenomenal Combine and pro day where he showed off impressive speed, he will likely go no later than the third round.
Meanwhile, Cole was disappointing at the combine. However, for a mid-to-late fourth-round draft pick, he would be a good value pick.
There are guys who impress in drills, and while Cole isn't one of them, there are also guys who produce during games and that's where he excels. In 2011, he recorded 108 tackles with 13.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and four passes broken up.
Cole was moved to middle linebacker prior to last season and looks like he has the flexibility to be an inside linebacker in a 4-3 or 3-4 defense. He just needs more size.
Round 5: Shaun Prater, CB, Iowa
WalterFootball.com projects Prater as a fourth- or fifth-round selection, so the Bears may need to trade up to nab him by the time they pick in Round 5. They could trade one of next year's picks to move up to take him but that could be a problem, since they are already without their third-round pick from the Brandon Marshall trade.
So, in this scenario, the Bears trade their sixth-round pick to move up to get Prater.
Meanwhile, the Bears get a corner who impressed scouts at the combine. His 40 was better than expected. And his field drills were solid as well.
Prater's senior season was somewhat less productive than his junior year, as he had just one interception (versus four the year before).
He did have 51 tackles with four forced fumbles, however.
Round 6: TRADED
The Bears sixth-round pick was traded in order to move up in Round 5 to nab cornerback Shaun Prater out of Iowa.
Round 7: Nathan Stupar, OLB, Penn State
Stupar made 80 tackles and 5.5 of them were for a loss. He also added two sacks, two interceptions and three passes defended. In all, he was a reliable player for Penn State and worthy of being drafted.
What Stupar lacks in athleticism he makes up for in blue-collar work ethic and smarts on the football field. He wasn't supposed to work out at the combine so his lack of explosion and speed wasn't unexpected.
Perhaps he could contribute in special teams at the next level if nothing else. But at this point in the draft, teams aren't looking for impact players.
In conclusion, this draft helps close up some serious holes on the offensive line and adds a tall wideout to further help Cutler. But the one thing this draft lacks is a pass-rushing DE. I could have taken Vinny Curry in the second round, but instead I went with Kevin Zeitler. That's the only area that I still struggle with.