The first few days following the Super Bowl can be a dark and lonely place as the reality of the cold NFL offseason sets in. Not even the quasi-excitement of the impending XFL season can save us.
But that’s exactly why I’ve always released my first Bears Mock Draft of the year on the Tuesday following the Super Bowl. Amazingly, this is the 10th year of my mock drafts, which makes me feel both appreciative and old. Interestingly, this year’s draft order for the Bears comes with some twists that I’ve never dealt with — a result of many trades and the team’s first compensatory pick in 11 years.
Bears general manager Ryan Pace’s reputation for wheeling-and-dealing in the draft is well known and the ripples of multiple trades — including the Khalil Mack trade in 2018 — are still being felt in this year’s draft order. Before we can get to the selections, we must sort through the picks that were dealt and received. Here are the most definitive details I have on the Bears’ selections after combining previously known facts with new information acquired from league sources:
1st Round, No. 19 — The Bears landed at No. 19 in the draft order and that pick is headed to the host Las Vegas Raiders in the Khalil Mack trade.
3rd Round, No. 17 — This pick also goes to the Raiders in the Khalil Mack trade — the final selection given up in the deal.
4th Round, No. 19 — This picks goes to the New England Patriots after a deal Pace made in last year’s draft to trade up for running back David Montgomery in the third round.
2nd Round, No. 11 (No. 43 overall) — The Bears received this pick from the Raiders in the Mack trade.
4th Round, projected No. 41 — For the first time in 10 years of doing these mock drafts, the Bears will receive a compensatory pick. It is the first compensatory draft pick the team has received since 2009, the longest drought in the NFL. The pick comes by virtue of losing safety Adrian Amos in free agency last year, but also required the Bears to release running back Mike Davis in the middle of the season to secure the compensation.
6th Round, No. 21 — This is a conditional pick received from the Philadelphia Eagles in the Jordan Howard trade. The conditions haven’t completely been met yet, but the pick is expected to be in the sixth round instead of the fifth round.
7th Round, No. 12 — This conditional pick from the Mack trade could have landed anywhere between the fifth and seventh rounds, but my understanding is it is expected to be a seventh round pick.
Barring any additional trades, the Bears will have eight picks in this year’s draft, but only two in the top 50 and three in the top 150.
Please remember that the goal of these mock drafts is not to correctly predict the Bears’ picks three months from now, but to get readers familiar with prospects I believe would be a good fit in Chicago. As is usually the case with my first mock draft of the year, it is heavy on players I have either seen in person or studied during the college all-star season. With that in mind, let’s jump into the picks:
2nd Round, No. 11 (No. 43 overall via Raiders) — TE Harrison Bryant, Florida Atlantic (6-4 3/4, 242)
This year’s John Mackey Award winner (nation’s top tight end), Bryant is an athletic receiving weapon that can line up all over and create mismatches against opposing defenses. He’s a perfect “U” tight end in Matt Nagy’s offense. He’ll get knocked for playing in Conference USA, but he had a great game at Ohio State in 2019, proving he can do it against top competition. Bryant also shined in Mobile at the Senior Bowl, another indication that the competition level won’t be a problem. And, watching the game, it was actually Bryant’s blocking (run and pass) that stood out to me, which was impressive considering that wasn’t really what he was asked to do in Lane Kiffin’s offense. His wing span and hand size are on the smaller end of the scale, but everything Bryant does on tape alleviates those concerns. He’d be a great fit for the tight end-needy Bears.
2nd Round, No. 18 (No. 50 overall) — EDGE Bradlee Anae, Utah (6-3 3/8, 257)
One of my favorite players in this draft, I first saw Anae in person at the 2018 Holiday Bowl and everything he did in 2019 further solidified his standing as a legitimate NFL Draft prospect. Anae was unblockable in the Senior Bowl last month. He pretty much wrecked the game when he was on the field. What he lacks in length, he makes up for with outstanding hands. He’s familiar with lining up in a variety of techniques and should take well to the Bears’ 3-4 defense. Anae has tape that shows him winning against top caliber offensive tackles like USC’s Austin Jackson, a likely first round pick. He led Utah in sacks each of the last three seasons and racked up a total of 30 in his college career. This is a high-motor player you don’t overthink. Trust the production and plug him in opposite of Khalil Mack.
4th Round, No. 41 (projected comp pick) — OG Damien Lewis, LSU (6-2, 329)
A late add to the Senior Bowl, Damien Lewis really popped on the film, consistently moving defenders in the run game. He showed the ability to get outside in the screen game, springing Florida running back Lamical Perine on a short pass out of the backfield that went for a touchdown. Lewis has a reputation as a mauler in the run game, which is exactly what the Bears need right now. He’s versatile on the interior line, but he primarily played right guard for the national champion Tigers. A former JUCO transfer, Lewis’ height could keep him from going earlier, but his attitude gives him a chance to be an early starter at the next level.
5th Round, No. 17 — CB Dane Jackson, Pittsburgh (5-11 5/8, 180)
It was surprising to see Jackson weigh in at the Senior Bowl under 6-0 with a wingspan of only 73 3/4 inches, but by all accounts he had a good week and was consistent every day. He projects as an outside corner, which is what the Bears should be looking for this offseason, and he has the long speed to match NFL wide receivers. Jackson tends to get grabby, so he’ll have to refine his technique, but he typically gives himself a chance to make a play on the ball. This pick came down to Jackson or Iowa’s Michael Ojemudia, who has a much bigger wingspan at 77 1/8, but I’ve been guilty of getting too obsessed with defensive back size in the past (i.e. Deiondre’ Hall). I’m going with Jackson for now, but am interested to see how these two corners test at the Combine.
6th Round, No. 17 — RB Antonio Gibson, Memphis (6-0 1/2, 223)
This kid seems destined to be a Bear. Basically a wide receiver/running back in Memphis’ high-octane offense, he’s either a much bigger Tarik Cohen or a smaller Cordarrelle Patterson for Nagy to use. Finally getting a shot in 2019, Gibson had eight touchdowns as a receiver, four as a running back and one as a kick returner. Those are remarkable numbers considering he only had 71 offensive touches. Right now, I like Gibson more as a running back because his route running will need some refinement and he shows an ability to power through tacklers when needed. Make no mistake though, Gibson is explosive and shifty, constantly making defenders miss. Why didn’t he get on the field earlier in his career?
6th Round, No. 21 (via Eagles) — WR Binjimen Victor, Ohio State (6-4, 199)
My issue with Victor is that I kept waiting for him to breakout into a star at Ohio State and it never really happened. Still, he finished with 35 catches, 573 yards and six touchdowns in 2019, which isn’t bad the way the ball is spread around in Columbus. Victor possesses long speed and can rack up yards after the catch if given space, but he’s not necessarily going to win with quickness, which is why he won’t go early in this draft. I’m of the belief that Mitchell Trubisky would benefit from having bigger targets and Victor has a huge catch radius. Admittedly, this pick would be a little redundant with Javon Wims and Riley Ridley selected in recent years, but Victor has a little bit higher of a ceiling when it comes to making plays in the vertical passing game and I think he’d be the best player available at this point in the draft.
7th Round, No. 12 (via Raiders) — QB Stephen Montez, Colorado (6-4, 240)
With Montez’s size and big arm, there’s certainly a chance he goes earlier than this, but I’m putting him here to illustrate the point that I personally wouldn’t reach for him any earlier than the seventh round. Much like Victor, I’ve liked this guy for a few years now and kept waiting for him to turn into the type of superstar that would command an early selection in the draft, but that hasn’t really happened. Montez’s footwork is all over the place and he has accuracy issues as a result. So why take a shot on him here? Because it’s the seventh round and I do believe the Bears need to take a shot on a young quarterback this year. The reality is that if they don’t use one of their second round picks on a quarterback, then the chances of them drafting a future NFL starter are very low. At that point, I’d wait until late in the draft and then select one that at least has an NFL arm and NFL size, hoping Nagy, Dave Ragone and John DeFilippo can work some magic. Montez fits that mold — a developmental prospect with pro tools.
7th Round, No. 19 — OL Calvin Throckmorton, Oregon (6-4, 7/8, 310)
So here’s the thing. All those good things I wrote about Bradlee Anae in the Senior Bowl? Well, a lot of that came at the expense of Throckmorton, who really struggled at left tackle in the game, including allowing Anae to force an interception on Jalen Hurts. But Throckmorton isn’t really a left tackle, as he played on the right side at Oregon this year and really caught my eye in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin’s talented pass rushers. The reality is that Throckmorton played up and down the offensive line at Oregon and, ideally, he’ll jump in there as a versatile player who can backup at center, guard or tackle, with the upside of developing into a starting guard or even right tackle. Throckmorton would provide great value in the seventh round.