Joey Ricotta & Brandon Braasch | April 8th, 2020
The NFL draft is right around the corner and for many, the NFL player movement and transactions, has been the only thing in the sports world to get excited about and keep us sane during this tough time. Now that most of the free agency market has been siphoned through, teams will look to the draft to fill the rest of their positional needs. The Chicago Bears made some unexpected moves – one being cutting ties with Leonard Floyd to sign Robert Quinn. Another was, giving tight end Jimmy Graham a sizable contract, while also trading a compensatory fourth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for quarterback Nick Foles, among other moves.
Certainly, the Bears have more needs heading into this draft, as opposed to last year’s. But, with only two picks within the first four rounds of the draft, it makes the most sense for them to trade one of their two second-round picks to move back and acquire more. That said, draft trades are extremely difficult to predict. They might be the most unpredictable part of the offseason altogether. So, instead of attempting to be full-blown mind readers, we’ll only attempt to predict what we know as of now. We know the Bears have seven draft picks, with four of them coming after the fourth round. Teaming up to bring you this intense Bears post free agency mock draft, Brandon and Joey get right to work.
To help with this mock draft, we used The Draft Network mock draft simulator.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team mock drafts here.
Round 2, Pick 43: Lloyd Cushenberry III, IOL, LSU
At the NFL combine press conference, Cushenberry spoke about how he’s gotten comfortable as a leader, making calls at the line of scrimmage. He also said that he’s comfortable playing either center or guard. Right guard was a big issue for the Bears last season. Because of the ineffectiveness and lack of health by Kyle Long, Rashaad Coward was pressed into a lot of action, which didn’t provide the results they were looking for. The running game struggled mightily, and the pass protection was also a weak spot. Cushenberry is a center, by trade, but he has the ability to move over and be a solid guard at the NFL level. He excelled as a run blocker at LSU and was solid in pass protection, especially against difficult bull rushers. – Joey
Round 2, Pick 50: Chase Claypool, WR, Notre Dame
The senior out of Notre Dame is one of my favorite players in the draft. He is 6-foot-4 and combined with his speed that makes him a great big-play receiver. He ran a 4.42 40-yard dash at the combine. He averaged 15.7 yards per catch to go with 13 receiving touchdowns in his senior season. Six of those 13 touchdowns were for 20 plus yards. Four of those six were for 34 plus. The Bears need to add a couple of playmakers on offense. For cap space, they decided to cut Taylor Gabriel prior to free agency. Claypool would be a great addition to the Bears wide receiver group. Allen Robinson and Claypool on the outside with Anthony Miller in the slot is a matchup nightmare. If they double Robinson that leaves Claypool one-on-one to make a big play. – Brandon
Round 5, Pick 163: J.R. Reed, SAF, Georgia
The Bears are in need of a safety. The good news for them is they have had a lot of success with drafting safeties in the later rounds. They drafted Eddie Jackson in the fourth round. They also got Adrian Amos in the fifth round, which happens to be the round I have them getting Reed, who plays similar to Amos. He isn’t going to force a bunch of turnovers, but that’s what Jackson is for. He is smart, good in coverage and is a good tackler. He would be perfect alongside Jackson and would allow him to play to his strengths as a ball-hawking free safety. – Brandon
Round 6, Pick 196: Lamar Jackson, CB, Nebraska
Not exactly the Lamar Jackson the rest of the football world has been clamoring over, you know, the one who went nuts this past season with the Baltimore Ravens. Sure, the Bears could definitely use him to put an end to their quarterback misery, but since that’s not an option, they’ll have to settle for cornerback out of Nebraska. After cutting ties with Prince Amukamara, the Bears have a glaring need in the defensive backfield opposite of Kyle Fuller. They’ve brought in Artie Burns and Tre Roberson, who will compete with the returning Kevin Toliver.
However, none of those options instill a ton of confidence. Jackson is a tall corner with good playmaking ability. Honestly, I’m surprised this is the range of the draft where he’s projected and falling in most mocks. His length, size, and playmaking ability deserve more respect or at least a second look. He wouldn’t be handed the keys to the starting role, but, if nothing else, he’s a developmental piece for the future. Standing 6’3″ and 215 lbs, Jackson has the size and high points the ball well, to make up for his rather underwhelming speed (4.58 40-yard dash time). – Joey
Round 6, Pick 200: Justin Strnad, ILB, Wake Forest
Strnad’s size is a concern, but he makes up for it with quickness and range. The Bears lost depth at linebacker with Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis leaving in free agency. Strnad could help with that and has the ability to contribute on special teams, given his experience at Wake Forest. Strnad displayed very good sideline-to-sideline and coverage skills, while also delivering big shots when the opportunity presented itself. He wasn’t used much to blitz, but it’s within his capabilities. The reason he falls this far in the draft is because of a torn biceps injury, which held him to only seven games played. – Joey
Round 7, Pick 226: Charlie Heck, OT, North Carolina
Heck seems like the perfect pick just based on his history with the franchise. His dad Andy was an offensive lineman for the Bears from 1994-1998. Heck also played with Bears quarterback Mitchell Trubisky at North Carolina. He appeared in eight games as a freshman with Trubisky. Heck is 311 pounds and could be just what the Bears need with this pick. He is a very strong run blocker but needs to improve with his pass blocking to become a starter in the NFL.
However, the way the NFL is with injuries nowadays, having depth on the offensive line is a must. Both Charles Leno Jr. and Bobby Massie struggled a year ago. Both figure to be starters going into the 2020 season, especially because of the contracts they are signed to. Be that as it may, if one or both struggle again, their jobs aren’t guaranteed. This is a win-now league. – Brandon
Round 7, Pick 233: Carter Coughlin, EDGE, Minnesota
Edge? Didn’t the Bears solve that perceived issue by cutting Floyd and signing Quinn? Maybe so, but you can never have too many edge rushers and Coughlin seems like a very solid value at this point in the draft. Coughlin isn’t the strongest edge rusher, he relies a lot on quickness and speed. Luckily for him, he is very quick and speedy, displaying that during the combine with a 4.57 40-yard dash time, which is quite fast for an edge rusher. The speed allows him to be free from two-point stances (or hand in the dirt), he doesn’t need that to gain quickness or speed before attacking the quarterback.
Coughlin’s stock might’ve been on the rise, prior to 2019, but he had his worst season since his freshman year in regards to tackles-for-loss and sacks. Nonetheless, Coughlin still racked up 4.5 sacks, 9.5 tackles-for-loss, and three forced fumbles. Altogether, during his Golden Gophers career, he collected 22.5 sacks, 40 tackles-for-loss, and eight forced fumbles. Coughlin’s coverage skills are to be determined, however, there’s the belief that he will develop into a solid coverage defender against tight ends because of his fluidity and ability to “get to the spot” when dropping back. – Joey
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