“Ugh, another mock draft? Can the draft just start already?”
I share the same sentiment, but as this has been a tradition of mine for years now, I’d like to keep it going. If any of my picks become studs, I can brag about it. If not, that’s why I’m not a GM.
This mock assumes no trading will occur.
Round 3, Pick 87: Christian Miller (EDGE), Alabama
Bet you thought I’d take a running back here, didn’t you?
During my very amateur RB scouting, my mind came down to Penn State’s Miles Sanders and Memphis’ Darrell Henderson. However, I can’t help but doubt either will be available by pick 87 (trading up isn’t out of the picture, but again, I’m not accounting for those), while Henderson has never even visited the Bears, to my knowledge. Furthermore, Pace really loves throwing curveballs with his picks, so in true Pace fashion, why not shake things up by focusing on defense?
Miller has struggled with injuries throughout his Alabama career, including a bicep injury last year that prevented him from playing in the National Championship Game. On the plus side, this should be enough to drop him down to pick 87. On the other hand, this could pose a negative if it persists into his pro career.
Prior to his injury, he was playing well in his final season, especially as a pass rusher. With his mobility, he should also be able to provide help in pass coverage, something that Bears outside linebackers had to do under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in 2018; although current DC Chuck Pagano prefers blitzing his linebackers, it doesn’t hurt to have LBs who can cover.
The Bears conducted a private visit with Miller during the pre-draft process, so there is interest. Not to mention Pace also loves his SEC defenders. If Miller gets drafted, he would join a defense loaded with SEC talent from Georgia’s Leonard Floyd and Roquan Smith to Kentucky’s Danny Trevathan at linebacker and a safety duo of fellow Alabama guys Eddie Jackson and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. And a guy from the MAC named Khalil Mack.
With injury history being the biggest red flag, Miller could be a gamble, but I’m surprisingly high on him as a prospect.
Round 4, Pick 126: Dexter Williams (RB), Notre Dame
After trading Jordan Howard, it’s no secret the Bears need a running back. Cohen and newly-signed Mike Davis can only do so much, while fellow newcomer Cordarrelle Patterson will be all over the place on offense and special teams. Taquan Mizzell and Ryan Nall, as much as I liked the latter in my 2018 mock draft and the preseason, aren’t exactly names that inspire confidence either. I know Pace specifically brought up Nall during his press conference earlier this week and I’d love to see him get a chance, but you can’t trade someone like Howard off and expect fans to be comfortable with what you currently have. Hell, the Bears even held workouts and visits with nearly every RB in the draft.
With Sanders and Henderson long out of the picture but now being a good time to deal with the RBs, enter Dexter Williams. Although he didn’t get much action until his senior year, he enjoyed a good final season with 12 touchdowns. Although not much in pass protection, he has the burst when running that Howard couldn’t seem to find in Matt Nagy’s system last year.
Dex is an ok pass blocker, leaves a little to be desired when pass catching, but has ELITE acceleration out of the backfield. If Dex has a hole he has the ability to take it to the house on every play. Had some issues off the field in the past, but got his shit together after his mom was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Should be available once the Bears start making picks.
Besides a private visit, Williams has also had made contact with Chicago at a local pro day. Although his off-field record might pose concerns, Nagy and company can help out. Along with Davis, Cohen, and Patterson doing their respective work, Williams would be a welcome addition to the backfield.
Round 5, Pick 162: Jimmy Moreland (CB), James Madison
With Bryce Callahan off to Denver, the Bears could afford to add some more help in the secondary, particularly the cornerbacks. That’s where Jimmy Moreland of James Madison comes in.
James Madison is an FCS school, but also a very successful program in recent years as the 2016 national champion and regular playoff face. Although a bit undersized, Moreland stacks up pretty similarly to Callahan physically and has 13 combined interceptions in his last two years, including four touchdowns.
The Bears have conducted a private visit for Moreland, so there is interest. While the competition is obviously lower at the FCS level, Moreland appears to be a solid replacement for Callahan at nickelback.
Round 7, Pick 222: Alex Bars (OL), Notre Dame
Another Notre Dame guy? As a USC and Navy fan, this is awkward. As a Bears fan, can’t say I’m surprised considering how many Fighting Irish alumni have gone on to play for us.
At full strength, the Bears’ starting offensive line is a very solid group, with Pro Bowlers at center (Cody Whitehair) and left tackle (Charles Leno Jr.), a sophomore coming off a promising rookie year at left guard (James Daniels), a longtime leader at right guard (Kyle Long), and an average-at-worst yet decent right tackle (Bobby Massie).
However, what happens when one of them goes down? Long, as successful as he has been, has struggled with injuries throughout his career, including spending time on IR in 2018. Sure, the Bears have Bradley Sowell and Rashaad Coward, along with bringing back Ted Larsen, but depth is a key spot that should be addressed. And the guy I have for that address is Alex Bars.
Bars can play guard and tackle on both sides, which he did throughout his career at Notre Dame. The heir apparent to Quenton Nelson at left guard (who I projected to be a first-round pick by the Bears last year), his time with the Fighting Irish came to an abrupt end when he suffered an ACL/MCL injury in his senior year. As a result, his draft stock has plummeted, making him a very interesting pick in the seventh round.
The Bears have met with Bars during the pre-draft process, while Chicago offensive line coach Harry Hiestand was at Notre Dame before being hired by Nagy in 2018. With the coaching connection already there, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to reunite the lineman with his coach to recover and develop until he is ready to take over.
Round 7, Pick 238: John Lovett (QB/ATH), Princeton
By this point, the draft is even greater of a crapshoot as teams make their final sections. If I were Pace, who’s satisfied with my draft haul, I’d start swinging for the fences by going for raw, athletic talent.
Well, why not bring in someone who is not only talented athletically, but academically?
John Lovett is a name not many know. The Princeton QB tore up the Ivy League as a “five-tool” player; in three seasons, he had 31 passing TDs, 42 rushing TDs, two receiving TDs, two tackles on defense, and three punts for 97 yards. This guy can do it all, like another Taysom Hill (or Sammy Baugh/Sid Luckman with that diverse stat line?). I can only imagine the possibilities under Nagy.
At 6’3″, 230 pounds, he’s projected to be a fullback or H-back. Neither are positions the Bears necessarily need, but his insane versatility makes him a very attractive option.
Also, he’s a History major. As a History major myself, I want a guy I can relate to.
Personally, I think he’ll go undrafted and his chances at an NFL career are a longshot. He hasn’t had many visits before the draft and I haven’t seen much, if any coverage of him. But anything can happen, right?