Chicago Bears Mock Draft: Fresh 7 Round Predictions Post Week 1 of Free Agency
The Chicago Bears had yet another busy free-agent period, which certainly changed their draft plans but not as much as one may think.
While the Bears added two starting defensive ends and two safeties to compete for starting jobs and brought back starting cornerback Charles Tillman, they still have a lot of work to do on the defensive side of the ball.
In some spots, depth is the primary issue, but they're still probably going to need at least one starter from this draft.
The only position I took off the board for the Bears' first pick following the free-agent period is defensive end. In Lamarr Houston and Willie Young, the Bears have two solid starters. Shea McClellin will still likely rush the passer in obvious passing downs, and they have a pair of young players worth trying to develop in David Bass and Cornelius Washington.
That said, if someone they feel is going to be a future star were to drop, they likely wouldn't hesitate.
Other than that, the Bears still have major needs at defensive tackle, safety and cornerback. Those are the positions I expect them to look at early in the draft.
It isn't all about defense. The Bears are currently stuck with very little depth at running back, tight end and along the offensive line. While those may not necessarily be the top priority, if the Bears can get a player they feel good about early, they may have to pull the trigger.
One thing to keep in mind is Bears general manager Phil Emery wants high-level athletes. Over the last two years, six of the eight draft picks who have worked out at the NFL combine have been rated as "above average" by Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services.
This mock draft begins at their most crucial needs as the Bears will hope to fill holes with great athletes as they go.
All combine information courtesy of NFL.com's Results Tracker
1st Round (14th Overall):
Aaron Donald, DT, Pittsburgh
In my first mock draft, I went a different direction at defensive tackle, but that was based on my thinking Aaron Donald wouldn't be available.
What changed? Well, the Atlanta Falcons did. They coached Donald at the Senior Bowl, and I thought they were going to find a way to draft him until this last week when they gave every indication they were switching to a 3-4 defense.
With Atlanta no longer being a fit, I see Donald falling to the Bears, and I think they'll pull the trigger.
Donald is a freak athlete who was unblockable in college and at the Senior Bowl.
While the Bears might be fine with Stephen Paea, Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins, none of them are special talents the Bears can build around going forward and chances are at least one of them will go down with an injury.
The Bears added exceptional run defenders in defensive ends Houston and Young, which would help them cover Donald's only major flaw. As great of a pass-rusher as he may be, he has struggled in the run game.
I wouldn't be completely surprised if the Bears went for another freak athlete in Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman. His ceiling may be higher than Donald's, and he has more versatility.
The Bears could also go with a cornerback in Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert or Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard. My sleeper pick at this point is Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier.
2nd Round (51st Overall):
Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois University
One thing Emery wasn't able to do in free agency was add talent to the back end of the Bears defense, but Jimmie Ward would be a nice addition.
While many see Ward as a strong safety, he appears to have the athleticism and ball skills to play free safety as well.
At NIU's pro day, he had 40-yard dash times of 4.47 and 4.48 seconds and showed explosiveness with a 38-inch vertical.
While playing at a lower level, Ward was productive with seven interceptions last season and 11 in his career. If the Bears are looking for athletic players who can take the ball away, Ward certainly fits the bill.
In last week's Scouting Notebook, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller noted how Ward stands out in coverage and how fluid he moves in space.
The biggest knock on Ward is his lack of bulk. At nearly 5'11", he weighed in at 197 pounds at his pro day. That isn't ideal for a safety, but if he isn't playing in the box a lot, he will be fine. He's under an inch taller and five pounds lighter than Seattle's Earl Thomas. He can add bulk once he gets into an NFL weight-training program.
Ward's ability to cover can't be overstated. Should Ryan Mundy win the job at strong safety for the Bears and Chris Conte finally play up to his potential as a free safety, Ward would be able to see the field as a slot corner.
Round 3 (82nd Overall):
Keith McGill, CB, Utah
Keith McGill is a late-bloomer who has been compared to Seattle's Richard Sherman, although height may have more to do with that than anything.
The Utah product measured a legitimate 6'3" at the combine with 33.25-inch arms, making him among the longest prospects to enter the league. What made him more impressive was his 39-inch vertical jump and his broad jump of 129 inches. Both were among the best amongst cornerbacks and show explosiveness that is rare for an athlete his size. He also ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds, once again, very good for a player his size.
In a division with Calvin Johnson, the Bears need to have at least one long, athletic cornerback.
McGill didn't play corner until the 2013 season, so he'll need work. He was a safety in 2011 and missed the entire 2012 season, which is also part of the reason he may drop.
By bringing Tillman back, the Bears bought themselves time at this position. They can draft a project like McGill and allow him to learn behind a possible future Hall of Fame player for a year or so.
Round 4: (117th Overall):
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Iowa
While a lot of teams may be looking for more athletic receiving tight ends, Fiedorowicz could fit the Bears quite well.
This is the only pick that is the same as the first time I did a mock draft for the Bears, and he would be great value in the fourth round.
With Martellus Bennett already on board, the Bears second tight end has to be able to block. Although not as athletic as some teams are looking for, the Hawkeye is very well-rounded.
At 6'5" and 265 pounds, he proved to be a solid blocker in the Big Ten and would make the Bears Ace package (two tight ends, two receivers, one running back) dangerous.
The Bears survived with offensive lineman Eben Britton as their second tight end last year, but he wasn't a threat to catch passes. Fiedorowicz will never be confused for Jimmy Graham, but if he can block and be a threat in the red zone, he'll be the perfect second tight end for the Bears.
Round 5 (144th Overall):
Tyler Gaffney, RB, Stanford
Although a different style than current Bears starter Matt Forte, Tyler Gaffney was very productive last year at Stanford and could be a solid reserve for the Bears.
Gaffney has more of a north-south style than Forte, but that could work as a compliment. He tested well at the combine, running the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds to go with second-best time amongst all running backs in the three-cone drill.
He doesn't have a lot of experience. He was a backup his first three years and missed the 2012 season to play baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates farm system. He came back strong with 1,709 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns in 2013.
The Stanford grad has limited experience catching passes but did finish with 15 receptions last season.
His ceiling is probably as a second-string running back, but that's exactly what the Bears are in the market for right now. He could compete with Michael Ford for the job backing up Forte and take some of the short-yardage carries that previously went to Michael Bush.
Round 6 (167th and 175th Overall):
167th: Howard Jones, OLB, Shepherd
Howard Jones stole the show at the combine testing as one of the best defensive ends in the 40-yard dash, broad jump, vertical and the three-cone drill, but it's hard to see where he fits in the NFL.
Jones weighs just 232 pounds, so he probably won't be a defensive end in the NFL. Although he stands just 6'2", Jones has exceptionally long arms at just over 34 inches. He could be an ideal fit for the LEO linebacker role the Seahawks used Bruce Irvin in last season and the Bears are attempting for McClellin.
Playing at such a small college, it will likely take him awhile to adjust, which is why he's projected to drop so far. The most likely scenario is he ends up being a special teams player, but at this point in the draft, he's worth the risk.
175th: Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse
Jay Bromley had better numbers at the combine and was more productive than Florida State's Timmy Jernigan, but he is projected to drop this far for a variety of reasons.
Although he had 10 sacks as a senior, Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com pointed out several inconsistencies in Bromley's game. He pointed out flaws in technique and overall consistency.
Overall, Bromley is a bit of a project, but he has the physical skills to become a rotational player in the NFL.