The draft is nearly upon us and after weeks of deliberation, discussion, player profiles, and mock drafts we finally get to see just what teams were thinking about and who they have been targeting. While the Bears don’t have a pick in round one and it’s unlikely they will trade up into the first with a low amount of assets to trade it is very possible the Bears may trade up on day two if they have a particular player targeted they feel stands out above the rest. It is Ryan Pace’s history to do just that. They have a ton of assets next year with an extra 2 from the Raiders trade last year. They also have 3 conditional picks and likely 2 more picks coming in the form of compensatory picks to compensate whatever loss they have if they do trade some picks. So it’s certainly on the table that the Bears may trade into the 2nd early 3rd to get their guy. It’s also possible they convert one of their picks into a veteran via trade most notably Robbie Gould even though I don’t see that going down for a plethora of reasons. I will however, stick to the script and just go with what the Bears currently have on their plate. I give to you Bears Mock 5.0: The final edition. (Que dramatic music here).
Pick 87th 3rd round: Rodney Anderson – Running Back – OSU: For my money if he came out without injury concerns Anderson may very well have been the top Running Back on everyone’s board. Sure, it’s an inherent risk drafting a player with Anderson’s troubled injury history but the insane value of drafting a first overall player at his position in the late 3rd is well worth that risk. I also feel more confident that the Bears will be willing to pull the trigger after hearing Pace talk about how he feels about his current group of Running backs. I believe him when he says he likes this Running Back room and I do feel he likes Ryan Nall in that mix too, although I feel he’s destined for a position switch but I digress.
Getting back to the negatives of this pick Anderson’s injury history is vast. They are not small one’s either. He broke his leg in 2015, fractured a vertebra the next year and injured his knee in game 2 this season and missed every game after that. However, in between the injuries he put up impressive numbers and left some impressive tape. In his first full season as a starter as a red shirt sophomore he led the FBS in yards from scrimmage in his final 7 games with 1,161 yards on just 188 carries for a 6.2 yard average with 17 catches for 281 yards for a whopping 16.5 yard average. He also dominated Clemson in the 2017 playoff round that same season with 26 carries for 201 yards and 2 scores against NFL caliber defensive talent. Unfortunately 2017 is all there is to go on.
I realize this is a huge gamble but I do believe the Bears have the roster to take it. They can also afford to bring him along slowly if need be. However, if he’s a hit you get a 6′ 230 pound 3-down nimble athlete with home run speed who can run inside, outside, run NFL Running Back routes with very good hands and the body control to catch off target throws and convert them into catches you thank the football Gods.
Pick 126 4th round: Isaiah Johnson – Cornerback – Houston: Johnson is big (6’2″ 208), is long (33″ arms), is fast (4.4 40), is explosive (36.5 Vertical – 11’1″ Broad Jump), and is quick 6.81 3-cone/4.06 short shuttle. His tape isn’t as good as those numbers may suggest, but there is some projection here. With the proper coaching to develop those physical gifts and the right teammates around him Johnson can turn into a star boundary cornerback. Johnson is a converted Receiver so he has natural hands to catch the ball. That and his length would suggest ball skills which should lead to plenty of Picks and PBU’s. Johnson just needs to work on the cerebral part of the game and work on his technique. In the meantime he should be a contributor on special teams and perhaps even contribute in nickel and dime sets as he is shifty in spite of his size and length. With the Bears loaded with secondary depth and two very good starters on the boundary this gives Johnson the time he needs to develop without having to be on the firing line right away as he’s a 4th round pick making 4th round pick money.
Pick 167 5th round: Jachai Polite – Edge – Florida: Polite has had by far the worst draft off-season of any prospect in the draft who hasn’t experienced a season ending injury. He did sustain an injury to his hamstring so that may explain his lack of explosive athleticism during his combine and pro day performances. He also had bad team interviews and ripped NFL teams for basically ripping him. Coming off as combative before the draft with your future employers seems like an odd strategy. He did also gain weight ballooning to 258 from his playing weight of 245 to apparently help him with his workouts when most guys lose weight to help them be quicker and more agile. Just a very odd strategy taken which raises questions about Polite’s decision making. On the plus side he was extremely productive in the SEC off the Edge in his junior season. Starting just 5 games he led the gators with 17.5 TFL’s and 11 sacks. He also led the entire nation with 6 forced fumbles. Perhaps getting back to his playing weight would improve his athleticism as well as a fully healed hamstring. If the Bears can be assured his attitude issues were an aberration and he falls here they may just find themselves an impact Edge defender in the middle of the draft.
Pick 222 7th round: Olabisi Johnson – Wide Receiver – Colorado State: Johnson is a possession receiver with big strong sticky hands who is not a blazer but he is athletic. While not slow (4.51 40) he isn’t a field stretcher so he probably profiles more as a big slot than a boundary type but with explosive jumping ability (38″ vertical/10’3″ broad jump) he can win his fair share of 50/50 balls down field. He’s also quick and nimble (4.16 short shuttle/6.88 3-cone) which is why I feel he’s best profiled in the slot. He wasn’t insanely productive but he was productive enough to get drafted in the late rounds. He has the possibility to be a valuable depth player as a WR4-6 and valuable special teamer.
Pick 238 7th round: Darius West – S – Kentucky: West is a stout (5’11” 210) box Safety Who’s a good zone coverage guy with good balls skills that can be of value in the run and pass defense. While he’s not the best man cover guy he does offer the skill set to stick on 3rd downs. Especially if you have a good slot corner to go along with a guy like Eddie Jackson. He’s not completely useless in man and has the speed (4.39) to keep up with most receivers. Perhaps he needs to be tutored in his technique to be better there because athletically he has the skill set to cover in man. He also is filled with intangibles and would fit in Perfectly into the Bears culture as a natural leader with high football character and IQ.
Conclusion: In this version of my mock Pace would fill a bunch of needs as well as add versatility and depth value along with stocking the team with high character, plus athletes who will bring their skill set to the special teams unit improving that phase of the team as well.