Bears' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

Bears' Top 2021 NFL Draft Targets

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    The Chicago Bears head into the 2021 NFL draft looking to fill a few notable holes. Ideally, they will be able to improve a roster that only went 8-8 in 2020 but still managed to make the playoffs.

    Chicago made some significant moves in free agency—including adding quarterback Andy Dalton and locking up wideout Allen Robinson II with the franchise tag—but they also parted with starting cornerback Kyle Fuller.

    Replacing Fuller, solidifying the offensive line and finding a long-term answer at the quarterback position should all be draft goals for Chicago. However, the Bears aren't scheduled to be on the clock until pick No. 20. This means that many of the draft's most notable prospects will be long gone.

    Here we will examine three prospects the Bears could target in the early rounds.

Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota

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    While the Bears did retain Robinson, they may have trouble keeping him over the long term. They have also discussed trading wide receiver Anthony Miller, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport. Therefore, targeting a wide receiver early could make a lot of sense.

    Chicago isn't going to get a crack at one of the draft's top pass-catchers—namely Kyle Pitts and Ja'Marr Chase—but it might be able to land a receiver like Minnesota's Rashod Bateman at No. 20.

    Bateman should be considered more than just a consolation prize.

    The 21-year-old proved to be a No. 1 target at the collegiate level—he had 1,219 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019—and he has the physical upside needed to be a No. 1 in the pros. While he may be a second-tier receiver prospect in this draft class, he is worthy of a first-round selection.

    If the Bears stay put at No. 20 or perhaps move down, Bateman could be an ideal target.

Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech

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    Matt Gentry/Associated Press

    The Bears might be able to stay put at No. 20 and land offensive tackle Christian Darrisaw, though getting him may require a trade up in Round 1. Such a move would be worth it, as Darrisaw has the potential to be Chicago's long-term blindside protector.

    "Athletically gifted left tackle prospect with the natural talent to be as good as he wants to be," NFL Media's Lance Zierlein wrote of Darrisaw. "Darrisaw plays with plus body control. He has the initial quickness and smooth agility to get to any and all blocks in the run game."

    Chicago has Charles Leno Jr. slotted in as the starting left tackle and should be interested in a replacement. Leno was serviceable at best last season and was responsible for six penalties and five sacks, according to Pro Football Focus. He will turn 30 in October and is also in the final year of his contract.

    With early runs on quarterbacks and receivers likely, Darrisaw should be pushed down to within reasonable trade range for Chicago.

Davis Mills, QB, Stanford

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    Jed Jacobsohn/Associated Press

    Depending on how long the early run on quarterbacks lasts, the Bears may not be able to make a reasonable trade up for one of the top five signal-callers: Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Mac Jones and Justin Fields. And reaching for a second-tier quarterback prospect at No. 20 would not make sense.

    However, the Bears should have a shot at a developmental prospect like Stanford's Davis Mills in Round 2. Mills carries plenty of question marks—he's dealt with multiple knee injuries and only made 14 collegiate starts—but he has NFL starting potential.

    "He is a competitive player who has rallied his team from deficits," Drae Harris of The Draft Network wrote. "He is more accurate in the short to intermediate area than he is with his deep ball—although he shows moments of good touch on his deep passes."

    Chicago will have to be comfortable with Mills' medicals, but given a year to sit behind Dalton, he may be ready to take over in 2022.