Bears Mock Draft: Updated 7-Round Projections After East-West Shrine Game
The first of the college football All-Star games, the East-West Shrine Game, took place Saturday night in St. Petersburg, Fla. with the West coming away with a 28-13 victory over the East.
Typically full of players selected in the mid to late rounds, the East West Shrine Game offers teams the ability to scout talent that they have not gotten the chance to see much throughout the season.
Joe Flacco, Dashon Goldson, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Wes Welker are just some of the former East-West Shrine Game participants to find success in the NFL. They prove that even if scouted properly, some diamonds in the rough can be found at these pre-draft games.
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery and new head coach Marc Trestman were expected to be in attendance Saturday afternoon, getting a jump start on their draft preparations. They could use the information they got from the game to help change their draft board.
Here is the updated Chicago Bears mock draft following the East-West Shrine Game:
1st Round: Lane Johnson, OT, Oklahoma
The biggest need for the Bears organization for years has been the left tackle position. Quarterback Jay Cutler has been sacked at an alarming rate since his arrival in Chicago, making the tackle position the most important issue to be addressed this offseason.
Veteran left tackles Jake Long, Ryan Clady, Jermon Bushrod and Branden Albert could find themselves on the open market. Even if the Bears do pursue one of those, it would not be a surprise if they also look to the draft for one.
Oklahoma's Lane Johnson has climbed up many big boards with his strong performances near the end of the season and could be available when the Bears selected 20th overall in the 2013 draft.
Johnson is a former quarterback, tight end and defensive end and made a seamless transition from right tackle to left tackle this season. At 6'6", 303 pounds, he has prototypical size for the position as well as long arms, which are a desirable trait among left tackles.
He has a good bend in his knees while keeping his base technically sound, all resulting in good movement with his feet while shuffling into position.
He has struggled in the past with run blocking, but his athleticism and speed helps him in the passing game. Some were skeptical of his abilities heading into the season, but his strong season in Norman has allowed him to jump up draft boards with his NFL potential.
2nd Round: Akeem Spence, DT, Illinois
Despite being the eighth-best team against the run in 2012, the Bears would like to find more consistency along its defensive line, particularly at defensive tackle.
They used a rotation of Henry Melton, Stephen Paea, Nate Collins, Amobi Okoye and Israel Idonije for much of the season, but Melton, Okoye and Idonije are all set to hit free agency this offseason.
Melton is likely a top priority to re-sign with the addition of new defensive coordinator Mel Tucker, who was named to the position Friday (h/t ESPN). He plays the important three technique position that requires speed and athleticism to get after the quarterback and to slow down the running game.
Considered a mix between the three technique and a nose tackle, Akeem Spence started every game since his redshirt freshman season and declared for the NFL draft in December, forgoing his senior season.
He finished his junior season with 72 tackles, including seven for a loss.
He is strong at the point of attack, but he needs to improve his speed rush if he is expected to play the three technique. He excels at stopping the run but has struggled at times at getting leverage. His experience and athleticism would allow him to jump into the rotation immediately and could be a good, solid contributor in his first season.
Considered a mid-second to early third-round pick, it could be a stretch to take him 20th overall in the second round, but if Melton does not re-sign, he may be worth the risk.
4th Round: DeVonte Holloman, LB, South Carolina
After a knee injury that kept Brian Urlacher sidelined for much of the offseason, he returned to the field for the start of the season, but he was clearly not the same player.
His sideline-to-sideline mobility decreased, and the speed that was once his strong suit appeared to be half of what it used to be. His season was ended in early December when he suffered a Grade 2 hamstring tear and missed the final three games of the season.
He is now set to be a free agent, and considering his age (turns 35 in May), it would not be a surprise if he does not return.
Veteran Nick Roach filled in nicely for him at middle linebacker in his absence, but with injuries to Geno Hayes and Blake Costanzo near the end of the season, it was evident that the Bears linebacking corps lacks depth and will need to look to the draft to improve it.
South Carolina's DeVonte Holloman spent the first three years of his collegiate career as a safety before being moved to the Gamecocks' "spur" position, a safety/linebacker hybrid similar to the "lobo" position Urlacher played at New Mexico before being drafted by the Bears in 2000.
At 6'2" and 241 pounds, Holloman has the frame of an NFL linebacker and the speed to match up with some of the best tight ends and running backs in the game. He has excelled in pass coverage given his experience as a safety and has six career interceptions.
Projected by many as an outside linebacker, Holloman had a strong showing at the East-West Shrine Game practices this week, and according to NewEnglandPatriotsDraftcom editor Mike Loyko, Holloman excelled at reading plays while on the sidelines, calling them out to his fellow linebackers and safeties on the West squad.
His skill set combined with his knowledge of the game and strong showing all week at practices and in the game will likely continue his climb up many teams' draft boards. He is projected to be a strong-side linebacker but could eventually move inside if he can bulk up.
5th Round: Joseph Fauria, TE, UCLA
One of the biggest disappointments during the 2012 season for the Bears was the struggles of tight end Kellen Davis. He dropped a lot of passes, struggled as a blocker and oftentimes found himself out of position.
He is still under contract for next season, but with new head coach Marc Trestman's West Coast system being put it place, it will be important to find a tight end who can play in the middle of the field.
Tabbed by CBS Sports' Rob Rang at the beginning of the season as the nation's top senior tight end in the country, UCLA's Joseph Fauria struggled to live up to that hype.
He finished his senior season with 46 catches for 637 yards and an impressive 12 touchdowns, but he has been criticized for not playing with much passion and is an average-at-best blocker.
His size (6'7", 255 pounds) is his biggest attribute, as he able to match up physically with linebackers and can fend off most defensive backs. His speed is quick enough to beat most linebackers, but he will likely struggle at the next level to create separation.
He missed a sizable amount of practice this week for the Shrine Game due to a hip injury (h/t SB Nation), which ultimately led to him not being able to participate in Saturday's game.
He has been viewed as someone who could go as high as the third round or as low as the seventh round. Because of the injury that sidelined him for the Shrine Game, he'll likely stay in the mid rounds unless he can have a strong showing at the combine in February.
6th Round: Marcus Davis, WR, Virginia Tech
Other than the great season from Brandon Marshall (118 catches, 1,508 yards, 11 touchdowns), the Bears wide receiving corps was anything but impressive.
Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and Alshon Jeffery all struggled with injuries at some point throughout the season, and when actually on the field, many struggled to make an impact.
All three are still under contract, and Johnny Knox could still return following a year off after a back injury in December of 2011.
Despite the probability of all four returning, there is still a need to find another wide receiver who can make an impact on Sundays.
Virginia Tech's Marcus Davis has had his share of ups and downs, but he finished the 2012 season with 51 catches for 953 yards and five touchdowns that led to an invitation to the East-West Shrine Game.
His week of practice was less than stellar, and according to Bleacher Report's Michael Schottey, he struggled to get open at times throughout the week and often had balls bouncing off of his hands.
At 6'3" and 230 pounds, he is a physical specimen who has all the looks of a talented NFL wide receiver. He is great at going up to get the football and has impressive speed for someone of his size. He has struggled with concentration at times and lacks the desire on occasion to run block.
He finished the Shrine Game with just one catch for 16 yards, but in fairness, the quarterbacks struggled all game to get themselves into a rhythm.
If drafted in the sixth round, expectations for Davis will be low, possibly giving him the motivation to improve in many different aspects of his game. He could push for the fourth wide receiver position in camp and, with a strong showing, could see valuable playing time in 2013.