Prospects for Bears to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 12, 2021

Prospects for Bears to Avoid in 2021 NFL Draft

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears made the playoffs in 2020 but only managed to go 8-8 in the regular season. That was enough to get general manager Ryan Pace and head coach Matt Nagy another season, but merely making the playoffs probably won't be enough in 2021.

    With Andy Dalton set to start at quarterback and the initial waves of free agency in the rearview, the next challenge for the front office will be to navigate the upcoming draft. This is easier on paper than in practice, and Chicago has experienced its fair share of early draft disappointments.

    2017 second overall pick Mitchell Trubisky is no longer with the franchise, while 2018 second-round pick Anthony Miller is on the trading block.

    The Bears are armed with the 20th overall pick and eight total selections—though four of those are in the sixth round. To make this a successful draft, Pace and Co. will need to hit in Rounds 1, 2 and 3. As Bears fans well know, hitting in the early rounds is as much about who isn't taken as who is.

    Here we'll examine three draft prospects Chicago should avoid, either because they don't fit the franchise's trajectory or don't fill an immediate need. This isn't to suggest that these are bad players—they're just not right for the Bears in 2021.

Rashad Weaver, Edge, Pittsburgh

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    Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

    While the Bears could afford to add a prolific pass-rusher opposite Khalil Mack, they should look to address another issue with the 20th overall pick—notably at offensive tackle, cornerback or wide receiver.

    If Chicago insists on drafting a pass-rusher highly, Pittsburgh's Rashad Weaver shouldn't be part of the conversation. The second pass-rusher ranked in Bleacher Report's latest draft board, Weaver could develop into a great pro, he's not a great fit for Chicago. He's best suited for a 4-3 base defense and may not have the upside to warrant the 20th pick anyway.

    "Weaver is a long and powerful defensive end that has upside in the NFL as both a 5-technique in a 3-4 defense or as a base end in a 4-3 defense," Joe Marino of The Draft Network wrote. "As a pass-rusher, Weaver has sufficient rush variety, and his length is a major asset. With that said, he lacks burst and flexibility, and he's a slow-burn rusher, which limits his ceiling at the next level."

    For Sean Desai's scheme, Chicago should be more interested in adding a rush linebacker than a down lineman and, ideally, not in the first round.

Kellen Mond, QB, Texas A&M

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    Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

    Let's be clear: Texas A&M's Kellen Mond very well could develop into a quality NFL starter. He can deliver an accurate ball on short-to-medium routes, is fast on his feet and has athleticism to spare. However, the dual-threat signal-caller simply isn't the right fit for this roster or coaching staff.

    "Issues with touch and anticipation create erratic completion numbers when asked to throw down the field and outside the numbers, which will concern evaluators," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote.

    An agile dual-threat quarterback who struggles to throw deep and outside the numbers? That sounds a lot like Trubisky. He didn't work in Nagy's offense, in part because he wasn't supported by a consistent rushing attack.

    Last season, Chicago ranked 25th in rushing yards and 21st in yards per attempt.

    The Bears should not be looking to add a prospect similar to Trubisky early, and an early run at the quarterback position is likely to put Mond in the mix in Round 2 at the latest.

Gregory Rousseau, Edge, Miami

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Miami's Gregory Rousseau is another pass-rusher Chicago should avoid—perhaps in any round.

    Like Weaver, Rousseau is best suited to a four-man defensive front. On top of that, he didn't play in 2020, has a limited resume and put together an underwhelming pro day.

    "I worry about some of the stiffness that I saw at the workout, plus the tape, so I just don't know what to do with him when it comes to putting that final [draft] grade," NFL Media's Bucky Brooks said on Path to the Draft (h/t Austin Nivison of 247Sports).

    Rousseau produced 15.5 sacks in 2019 but played only two collegiate games outside that season. If he is a limited athlete who had a fluky campaign, he could be more of a rotational end than a dominant pass-rusher at the pro level.

    Chicago needs to add players who can contribute early and often, so unless Rousseau somehow falls to Round 6, it may be best to avoid him.

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