We're in the stretch of the inaugural Bleacher Report Community Mock Draft.
In this Community Mock, 32 different Featured Columnists assume the role of mock GM for their favorite team and participate in a live, real-time full seven-round mock draft. I'm the mock GM for the Bears.
If you're just joining us, please read the following articles so you can get up to speed with where we are in this draft:
These columns explain the rationale behind each pick. There is a method to the madness!
Now we head towards the sixth round.
While my war room partner Bob Warja half-jokingly says we're just looking for warm bodies at this point, I think there might be some hidden gems in these last two rounds.
Marques Colston, Donald Driver, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Matt Birk and Tom Brady are a few key players that were found in the 6th and 7th rounds. That's not to say I'm going to find the next Tom Brady, but I also don't want the mentality that these are throwaway picks either.
Let's get started.
Safety Brandon Taylor (left) tops the wish list for the 6th round
With two picks remaining in this draft, we have two primary needs that we have yet to address: cornerback and safety.
Some argue tight end and elsewhere on the offensive line. I happen to agree that tight end is an area of need, but Lovie Smith does not, as he has stated that Kellen Davis "can do anything the good tight ends in this league can do." And since Lovie feels that strongly about Davis, it's probably safe to say the Bears won't be looking at tight end during the draft.
I'm open to adding depth to the offensive line, but since cornerback and safety are bigger areas of need at this point, I'd only consider adding offensive linemen if the cornerbacks and safeties were not the best players available.
Bob Warja had suggested Will Blackwell back in the fifth round. I personally think he can be had as a free agent, so he's low on my priority list for this sixth round.
For cornerbacks, the ones taken so far (besides the obvious ones in Rounds 1-3) are Shaun Prater, Coryell Judie, DeQuan Menzie, Leonard Johnson, Ryan Steed, Asa Jackson and Omar Bolden.
Remaining available cornerbacks are Justin Bethel, Coty Sensabaugh, Donnie Fletcher, Charles Brown, Micah Pellerin, Ron Brooks, Robert Blanton, Cliff Harris, Keith Tandy and Robert Blanton.
Of these guys, my order of preference is Donnie Fletcher, Cliff Harris, Ron Brooks, Charles Brown, Micah Pellerin, Keith Tandy, Justin Bethel, Coty Sensabaugh and Robert Blanton.
Available safeties are Duke Ihenacho, Matt Daniels, Brandon Taylor, Winston Guy, Janzen Jackson and Sean Richardson.
Of the safeties, Brandon Taylor is far and away my preference, followed by Duke Ihenacho, Winston Guy, Sean Richardson, Janzen Jackson and Matt Daniels.
The other strong possibility is guard Adam Gettis. Extremely athletic, he really impressed at both the combine and his pro day, where he also looked good snapping the ball from center. The real Bears have talked to him, so he could be a real-world pick, too.
At this point, my overall order of preference is safety Brandon Taylor, cornerback Donnie Fletcher, safety Duke Ihenacho, guard Adam Gettis, cornerback Cliff Harris, cornerback Ron Brooks, cornerback Charles Brown and safety Winston Guy.
Though I've planned plenty of options to choose from, I'm once again hoping a particular player—Brandon Taylor in this case—falls to us.
Now comes the waiting game.
We pick 14th in this round, so let's see what 13 picks go before us.
173. STL—DT Hebron Fangupo
174. KC—S Tavon Wilson
175. WAS—LB Jerry Franklin
176. TB—OT Levy Adcock
177. MIN—CB Robert Blanton
178. JAX—RB Chris Rainey
179. ARI—OT Marcel Jones
180. BUF—CB Antonio Fenelus
181. NO—TE Brian Linthicum
182. PHI—S Christian Thompson
183. SEA—DE Olivier Vernon
184. KC—TE George Bryan
One more pick to go before us...
185. SD—S Brandon Taylor
Argh! Chargers mock GM Mike Walkusky just beat me to him.
Well, I already made a plan, so let's stick with it.
The Bears take...
Fletcher (left) in a game vs. Notre Dame
I'm not going to lie. Nor am I going to pretend Fletcher is something that he is not.
Fletcher is not a shutdown corner.
That said, for a sixth-round pick, he provides great value with noticeable upside. And while Fletcher may not be a perfect fit for other teams' defensive schemes, Fletcher is a fantastic fit for Lovie Smith's Cover 2 scheme.
Fletcher is a physical, strong run-support defender with prototypical NFL cornerback size (6' 0", 201 lbs). He also is fluid, with smooth hip turns and a plus backpedal to go with a quality feel for zone coverages. Throw in his good ball skills and this all makes Fletcher an ideal Cover 2 corner.
At the beginning of the 2011 season, Fletcher was a projected early-round pick. But a preseason back injury caused his senior year performance to suffer. And although he was willing to play man coverage, Fletcher didn't excel in it, further hurting his stock.
Though Fletcher was invited to the Senior Bowl, he was not invited to the combine. That combine snub fueled his motivation for pro day, where he burned a sizzling 4.38 time in the 40-yard dash—erasing preseason doubts about his speed.
He also put his strength on display with an impressive 17 reps on the 225-pound bench press. One reporter even said Fletcher was at least as impressive as star linebacker Luke Kuechly at the Boston College pro day.
Though Fletcher is a better zone defender than he is in man, he points to game film of his freshman and sophomore year coverage against Hakeem Nicks, Golden Tate and Torrey Smith as evidence of his underrated man coverage skills.
Because of Fletcher's quality zone defense, some scouts believe he can also probably be converted to safety if needed.
Fletcher is no Morris Claiborne. But for a sixth-round pick, Fletcher provides good value as legitimate competition in camp for Tim Jennings from day one.
Here's how the rest of Round Six ended.
187. ARI—S Duke Ihenacho
188. DAL—RB Terrance Ganaway
189. NYJ—WR Gerell Robinson
190. DEN—DT Brett Roy
191. OAK—QB Kellen Moore
192. TEN—LB Danny Trevathan
Trevathan is a nice value pick by Titans mock GM Daniel Barnes.
193. CIN—TE DeAngelo Peterson
194. ATL—CB Micah Pellerin
195. PIT—WR Rishard Matthews
196. KC—S Janzen Jackson
197. HOU—S Tony Dye
198. MIA—G Adam Gettis
Was hoping Gettis would slide to the seventh round for us, but Dolphins mock GM Alex Miglio makes another good pick. He and I have been eyeing many of the same players.
199. GB—CB Desmond Marrow
200. BAL—CB Cliff Harris
201. SF—DE Trevor Guyton
202. PHI—RB Evan Rodriguez
203. NYG—G Lamar Holmes
204. NYJ—LB Jerrell Harris
205. NYJ—WR Lavasier Tuinei
206. CLE—S Eddie Whitley
207. CLE—QB Ryan Lindley
208. IND—LB Shawn Losieau
209. CAR—TE Chase Ford
And that is the end of the sixth round.
So the Bears have picked:
DE Whitney Mercilus
WR Rueben Randle
LB Keenan Robinson
WR Juron Criner
OT Donald Stephenson
CB Donnie Fletcher
Mercilus bringing heat on the quarterback along with Peppers—who should no longer be double-teamed—will benefit a strong Cover 2 corner like Fletcher.
Keenan Robinson, along with Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs, will help blanket the second level of defense.
Meanwhile, I've patterned our offense after perennial Super Bowl teams like Green Bay, New England, the New York Giants and New Orleans so that we have at least three top receiving options.
One-upping the Packers, Patriots, Giants and Saints: we have a stud RB to go with our elite passing offense. Matt Forte is a threat to rip off even more long runs now that defenses can't stack the box with all those potent receivers on the field.
And Donald Stephenson is an immediate upgrade over J'Marcus Webb, further solidifying the elite Bears offense.
All in all, I think it's a pretty solid draft so far.
One pick to go as we head into the final round. That will be covered in an upcoming article.