Well, here we are. Another NFL Draft has (finally) arrived. That means it is time for our fourth and final Bears Mock Draft of the year.
As in past years, the final mock features a couple repeats from the first three editions, as we zero in on the best possibilities for Bears.
Let’s get right to the picks:
1st Round, No. 11 — LB Myles Jack, UCLA (6-1, 245)
Myles Jack could very well be the best athlete in the entire draft. So how the heck would he be available at No. 11 for the Bears? It’s a great question, but it may actually be a realistic possibility. Recent reports (which you always have to question this time of year) suggest that some teams are still weary of Jack’s knee injury — a torn meniscus suffered in September. Up until Sunday, I laughed at the idea that a torn meniscus (usually not that big of deal) could really knock Jack out of the top 10. But that’s when NFL Network’s Albert Breer chimed in with some new information: that Jack is dealing with a chondral defect in his right knee. In other words, he has some cartilage damage that could lead to future issues and impact the longevity of his career.
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Once again, this could be a smokescreen being thrown out there by another NFL club, but Breer is a credible reporter and “a chondral defect” would be a pretty specific smokescreen.
With this new information, Jack could fall out of the top 10 and if that’s the case, I would jump all over him at No. 11 if I’m the Bears. He has the ability to play either inside or outside in Vic Fangio’s scheme and would provide the Bears with an immediate upgrade in speed, instincts and playmaking ability on defense.
As for the chondral defect? Welcome to the NFL. Everyone has issues like that after a couple years. Jack is too good to pass up.
2nd Round, No. 10 (41st overall) — TE Hunter Henry, Arkansas (6-5, 250)
Like Jack, Hunter Henry took an official visit to Halas Hall and he happens to be the best tight end in a very weak tight end class. That’s not to suggest that Henry isn’t good, it’s to suggest that he might be the only good tight end this year.
The Bears got significantly weaker at tight end when they traded Martellus Bennett to New England, especially when it comes to blocking. And while Zach Miller should be productive in the passing game, he has a lengthy injury history that can’t be ignored. Henry is a very good blocker, especially in the running game and a productive receiver who didn’t have a single drop his senior season. He would be a much needed addition to the Bears’ offense.
3rd Round, No. 9 (72nd overall) — WR Braxton Miller, Ohio State (6-1, 201)
It’s hard to peg exactly where Miller will be drafted because he’s a project, but one with a lot of upside. I was impressed with him at the Senior Bowl, where he adapted very well and showed off his playmaking skills against solid competition. That said, it was obvious his route running and ability to get off jams still needed work and there’s a big difference between the Senior Bowl and the cornerbacks he’ll see on Sundays in the NFL. It wouldn’t surprise me if Miller is gone by the time the Bears pick here in the third round, but if he’s still available, I would take a chance on him. Even with Kevin White joining Alshon Jeffery on the field this year, the Bears could use another speedy option and Miller has the ability of a true deep threat who can go over the top of opposing defenses. He’ll need some time to develop before he can be a No. 1 or No. 2 guy, but with the Bears, he would only have to be a No. 3 or No. 4 next season.
4th Round, No. 8 (106th overall) — RB Jordan Howard, Indiana (6-0, 230)
A victim of UAB shutting its football program down, Howard transferred to Indiana and was very productive, even looking dominant at times, including against Michigan’s great run defense. A bigger back, there’s little doubt he’ll be able to pick up first downs in short yardage situations in the NFL and he’s slippery enough to break off bigger gains. On the downside, he doesn’t have breakaway speed and he wasn’t much of a weapon in the passing game. He’s also dealt with some injuries and has taken plenty of big hits. I think there’s a lot of value with Howard here in the fourth round, however, and I think he would compliment Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey very well in the Bears’ backfield.
4th Round, No. 29 (127th overall, via New England) — CB Deiondre’ Hall, Northern Iowa (6-2, 199)
Hall is our first repeat pick in this year’s Bears Mock Draft series, as he appeared in the sixth round of Bears Mock Draft 1.0 back in February. That was still early in the draft process and opinions were very mixed on the tall, lanky cornerback who played at the FCS level and had mixed results in Senior Bowl practices. But teams fall in love with potential and Hall’s speed and ridiculously long arms scream playmaker at the NFL level. He had four interceptions returned for touchdowns in college and three forced fumbles. I see some Charles Tillman in his game, both both in terms of his frame and the way he plays on the field. He’ll need to bulk up a little bit to get to Tillman’s level of physicality, but the tools are there to be a very good cornerback at the NFL level.
5th Round, No. 11 (150th overall) — QB Brandon Allen, Arkansas (6-1, 217)
If the Bears really want to go out and get a guy who can replace Jay Cutler down the road, they’re probably going to have to do it before the fifth round, but Allen is an intriguing prospect who could be a serviceable NFL starting quarterback in a couple of years. He’s a little bit smaller than you would like, but he has surprising arm strength and became a lot more consistent during his senior year at Arkansas. There’s also a significant connection here as Bears offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains has known Allen since he was seven years old, according to Chicago Sun-Times. Loggains attended Allen’s pro day and also happens to be a former (smaller) quarterback who played at Arkansas. If the Bears are going to draft a mid-round quarterback to compete for the backup job, it helps to have an already established comfort level and familiarity with the offensive coordinator.
6th Round, No. 10 (185th overall) — DE Dean Lowry, Northwestern (6-6, 297)
Lowry hasn’t received much love in the media circles of the NFL Draft world, but he does have a number of teams interested in him, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Indianapolis Colts. While Northwestern plays a 4-3 defense, they’ve also deployed three-down packages and Lowry has experience moving around and playing different techniques on the defensive line. He has a lot of potential as a five-technique and would provide much needed depth on the Bears’ defensive line, especially if they don’t address the D-line early on in the draft.
6th Round, No. 31 (206th overall, via Carolina) — TE Rico Gathers, Baylor (6-6, 273)
Two tight ends in one draft? Maybe I’m overrating the Bears’ level of need at that position, but Gathers is an intriguing prospect who could be hard to pass up at this point in the draft. A four-year basketball player at Baylor, he never played college football but is trying to get drafted after seeing several former basketball players turn into solid NFL tight ends. Gathers reportedly had an impressive pro day Monday in New Orleans and 24 NFL teams showed up to see it. It’s unclear what the Bears’ level of interest is, but if they’re looking for high-upside this late in the draft, Gathers would be a risk worth taking.
7th Round, No. 9 (230th overall) — OG Ted Karras, Illinois (6-3, 307)
Karras might not have Kyle Long’s athleticism, but he plays with Kyle Long’s intensity. He’s your prototypical gritty interior lineman who should make it onto an NFL roster because of his style of play. He’s especially strong against the run and, at a minimum, will be a good addition to the Bears’ practice squad with a chance to earn playing time down the road.