This is the season of mock drafts, and between being buried in historical draft research and my professional work, I have not had much of a chance to see how the “boards” were falling in terms of which prospects might go to which teams. Thus, I ran through a number of draft simulators and a number of iterations just to see what the algorithms were offering the Chicago Bears.
I quickly gave up on Pro Football Focus after the third time it let me trade Nick Foles for a future draft pick (always at least a fourth, once a third) but didn’t let me swap out a current fifth-rounder for a future fifth-rounder. After I had a sense of how things were falling, I set myself to do a single serious mock draft with Pro Football Network’s simulator. I had only two rules — I would allow myself no more than two trades (PFN gets a little trade-happy at times) that would have to be offered to me by other teams instead of the other way around and I would have to draft for Chicago’s actual needs, not for players I personally liked. If what happened on my computer happens in Paradise, Nevada when it really matters, I will be thrilled.
# 39: Tyler Linderbaum (C, Iowa). Standing at 6’2 ”but under 300lbs, Linderbaum made me reconsider my philosophy almost right away. In many of the runs I had seen, there wasn’t a ton of value to be found at # 39 and so I used one of my allowed trades to shuffle back a few spots and pick up some extra value. As soon as I saw Linderbaum at # 39, I rejected all trades and tried to decide if I could count this draft as a legitimate simulation.
I get it. The former wrestler might fall a bit because he is undersized, and because he needs to be in a move-based offense. He is going to struggle with power probably for his whole career, and true “war daddy” tackles are going to be too much for him. However, his body control and agility are phenomenal, and as a lifelong martial artist I consider his hands to be worthy of study. I admit that I was raised an Iowa fan, but I truly think that if he somehow falls this far Poles needs to get him.
# 48: Trade with Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers came with a trade asking for # 48 in exchange for # 60 and # 91. That’s good value. More than that, there were multiple receivers that I liked still on the board at this point.
# 60: Christian Watson (WR, North Dakota State). By now, WCG readers are probably tired of reading about the virtues of the 6’4 ”Watson, especially knowing that he’s probably going to end up somewhere other than Chicago. However, he was available at # 60 in this mock draft and so the son of an NFL safety got scooped up.
# 71: Trade with Denver. There were multiple players I liked available at # 71, and they offered # 75 and their 2023 fourth-round selection.
# 75: Daniel Faalele (OT, Minnesota). So, at # 39 I picked an undersized technician with amazing instincts for center. The argument could be made that picking of Faalele is a bit of a mismatch or a mistake. However, I couldn’t pass on the 6’8 ”beast of a human being after he was still there when I had traded down twice. I am worried that he is too rough around the edges and that the more skilled inside moves of NFL-level players will get the better of him. I am concerned that he’s just too stiff and mechanical.
Then I watch some footage of this absolute physical specimen improve from year to year and I think “He fell to the third round? I guess we have a new right tackle. ”
# 91: Coby Bryant (CB, Cincinnati). This was the extra pick I acquired from trading down at # 48 and “settling” for Watson for Pierce (I guess). Bryant’s biggest limitations are that he will not be ready for route technicians and he does not have the functional speed to make up for it when they burn him. His biggest advantages are his ability to track the throw instead of just the player and his aggressiveness against the run.
# 148: Dameon Pierce (RB, Florida). With all of Chicago’s big needs checked somehow, I was able to look at a few luxury selections. Pierce doesn’t have a ton of reps, but I like what I’ve seen of the 5’10 ”halfback, and I believe every ounce of his listed 220lbs. I mostly like him as a short-yardage back, as he has the lateral agility and the hips — plus the low center of gravity and leg-churning determination — to pick up a few hard yards. He is also a competent pass blocker, and that counts for something in my opinion here. He’s not going to be a signature back, but he could definitely add a nice ‘2’ to a 1-2 rushing attack.
# 150: Jesse Luketa (OLB, Penn State). Most of the profiles I’ve seen on Luketa have him listed as an edge rusher, and I think he’s fine (ish) in that regard. I don’t know if he has the right size-power blend for a defensive end in Chicago’s presumed 4-3 defense. What I do like for him is a roll as a run-defender who can drop into coverage as an outside linebacker, especially as he grows into the team’s expectations for him.
# 186: Marcus Jones (CB, Houston). I dreaded this pick for almost every mock draft I cycled through. I kept finding players I was disinterested in, and I even played around with trying to trade this pick into the 2023 just to avoid settling. However, there were a few players I settled on as players with actual upside who might be worth a flyer. When Jones was added to that group, it was with the presumption that Chicago still needed a cornerback.
I think Jones is a returner who can also play slot corner instead of the other way around, and at 5’8 ”he is a little more undersized than I would like. However, the dude is explosive. His actual technique at tackling is enough to make up for some of his size limitations, and he can make a play on the ball with timing when his length fails him.
Conclusions: Do I think this is how the draft plays out? No. However, if it happened, I’d be thrilled. The idea of picking up this array of players while adding a draft pick in 2023 seems almost like a fantasy …