Written by: John Stocco
Name a better time of the year, I’ll wait. It’s the mock draft season. Some of it can get annoying, some of it could get overbearing, but can you blame football fans for being so invested into the future? It’s the one time of year where any fan gets to be general manager and scout for their favorite team. I couldn’t be anymore curious to see what the future holds for the Chicago Bears. The 2020 draft is the second biggest of the Ryan Pace era, and this one won’t come easy. For the second year in a row the Bears will be drafting without a first round pick, and we all know why, it’s a price worth paying every single time when the return is Khalil Mack. The Bears, to some, are going to have an interesting offseason, and to others they’re going to have a frustrating offseason. Right now the Bears have around $13 million in cap space, ranking towards the bottom of the league. One would imagine Ryan Pace exploring trade possibilities and cutting veterans to clear some cap space, but the fact remains the Bears aren’t going to be financially flexible this spring. This makes the draft that much more important. To truly capitalize on this competitive window, and to have a bounce back season, the Bears are going to need a home run walking out of the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Bears have more holes than fans would expect. Some of these needs will be taken care of in free agency, but as of right now here are the needs:
QB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB, CB, S.
That’s a handful, but let’s get started on getting this team back into the playoffs. For full transparency the mock draft format I used was Matt Miller’s Big Board on Fanspeak, updated as recently as February 6th.
Round 2, Pick 43: Yetur Gross-Matos, DE, Penn State.
When the college football season started there was no way I could have imagined Yetur Gross-Matos being drafted by the Bears. Shockingly enough, Matt Miller doesn’t have him ranked all as high and I’m confused. Gross-Matos has huge upside, and his production in college has matched that upside. In three years Gross-Matos has produced 111 total tackles, 36.5 tackles for loss, 18.5 sackles, and 2 forced fumbles. He has incredible length, and he uses that length to beat blockers with swipes, good hand placement and a strong punch. The wingspan he has makes it close to impossible for him to miss tackles. Gross-Matos shows an excellent motor that never stops, that motor allows him to chase down running backs, or collapse the pocket to get to the quarterback. With the risk of losing or overpaying Roy Robertson-Harris, the Bears get a defensive end who can win the starting job day one with a higher ceiling.
Round 2, Pick 50: Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn.
This guy is one of my favorite cornerbacks I have ever studied. First let’s start with the athleticism, off the charts. The Bears will be lucky to have this guy still on the board with the 50th pick after the combine because he’s going to run one of the best 40’s in Indy. This guy comes from a family of olympic track stars, and he’s also a former wide receiver himself. Igbinoghene stands at 5’11 200 pounds, but he plays like he’s 6’3 200 pounds. Good size, elite speed, great hands with return ability, knows how to track the ball, can keep up with receivers running deep down the field, and something that goes unnoticed, he’s a very smart defender. Watching the tape he’s aware of what is a pass interference, and what isn’t a pass interference, and I know that sounds too simple, but there are a lot of corners out there that play reckless. Igbinoghene plays smart, and plays smooth. Bears need help at corner, and with Prince Amukamara likely to be cut, Igbinoghene steps in as someone who can easily take his place and upgrade that Bears defense.
Round 4, Pick 144: Harrison Bryant, TE, Florida Atlantic.
If you have kept up with any of my articles you know that my biggest gripe with this Bears team has been the tight end position. You can bring back Desmond Clark and it would be an upgrade. Harrison Bryant is one of the most exciting prospects in the 2020 NFL draft. He can line up anywhere on the field as a safety blanket on third down, or a deep threat receiver. He’s not the most polished blocker, which the Bears need, but he shows good hand placement, and I love his effort. Bryant needs to add a little more mass to his upper body, and he’s ready to be one of the most dynamic tight ends in football. Do not sleep on Lane Kiffin guys! Florida Atlantic is producing some good talent, and now hopefully I gave Ole Miss fans something to be excited about.
Round 5, Pick 160: Tyler Johnson, WR, Minnesota.
This is the guy. If you follow the draft, study film, make your own mock drafts, you always have “your guy.” It’s fun. You become a fan, you follow his career, and you see if you were right. Tyler Johnson is my guy in 2020. Every time I watched Minnesota play this guy was making plays. I really don’t care about the lack of elite speed. I really don’t care if he’s not explosive. You throw Tyler Johnson the ball and he’s going to make plays. You want to see some stats that I care about? Tyler Johnson was the second highest receiver in single coverage, behind JA'Marr Chase, and ahead of Devonta Smith. Also Tyler Johnson is the only wide receiver in this stacked receiving class to catch more than 70% of his deep pass targets. Johnson can beat you one on one, and he’s slippery enough to beat you up the middle of the field.
Round 5, Pick 164: Shane Lemieux, G, Oregon.
If tight end was the one position that I hated the most on the Bears, offensive line was a close second to the position I hated the most. This guy is an absolute tank. Oregon’s offensive line was so much fun to watch. I swear I would turn on Oregon games just to watch the offensive line. I’ve had my eye on Lemieux since August, and in my eyes there was no way I can see the Bears picking him unless it was the second round. I see Matt Miller has a 7th round grade on him and I am mind boggled by it. Lemieux is an old school type power blocker. He has incredible strength in his hands, and he can move up to second level pretty quickly. The Bears have a giant hole at RG, and if they want to get the running game to start being effective you sure up the inside with Daniels, Whitehair, and Shane Lemieux.
Round 6, Pick 197: Darrynton Evans, RB, Appalachian State.
This is just something that I believe in, but if I was a general manager in the NFL I would draft a running back every single year. I don’t care if I have Saquan Barkley, I’m drafting a running back every year because it is the most replaceable position, and there are a ton of them that can play. In 2020 the Bears have to lean on the running game more than they have. Trubisky can be the quarterback, but he can’t be the quarterback that takes on all the pressure. The Bears need to take notes from the 49ers, and Ravens, and become a power running team. Montgomery should be the every down back, but backing him up is Tarik Cohen, who needs to be utilized better on sweeps, options, and screens. Now you have Darrynton Evans who is the sleeping giant of this draft. If Evans catches you in open space, you’re going to need to throw a brick wall at him to take him down. Explosive, quick, and accelerates through any hole he can find. Montgomery, Cohen, and Evans is a well balanced attack on the ground, then you bring in The Secret Weapon aka Cordarrelle Patterson, and the Bears in just one offseason can turn into an offense with one of the best running games in football.
Round 6, Pick 201: Jeremy Chinn, S, Southern Illinois.
Now we get to my favorite stories of every draft and it’s the small school wonders. A Southern Illinois guy getting drafted. Unheard of! Chinn is the real deal. Long, lengthy, and a guy that isn’t afraid to go all out for the pick. In his college career, Chinn may not have played against the best competition, but Chinn dominated the competition that he was up against. 4 years, Chinn recorded 14 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. What makes him even more fascinating is that Chinn can play safety just as well as cornerback. Being a versatile threat, being lengthy, being physical against the pass and the run, if Chinn lives up to the potential that I believe he has the Bears can have one of the most dangerous defenses that can lead them to a Super Bowl.
Round 7, Pick 234: Dante Olson, ILB, Montana.
Another small school wonder, and in the 7th round a raw prospect like Dante Olson is too good to pass up. Bears need depth at the linebacker position. I’m expecting Nick Kwiatkowski to get a big contract from another team with a greater need at the position and more cap space, and although I believe the Bears will bring back Danny Trevathan, he is getting older, and the injury history is starting to pile up. Dante Olson is the right man to learn behind the likes of Trevathan, Kevin Pierre-Lewis, and Roquan Smith. Olson’s collegiate career was impressive: 397 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 9 pass deflections, and 5 forced fumbles. Olsen is a big hitter, with great instincts which helps him in coverage and to make up for decent speed. Other than all of those traits, the one thing I love about Olsen is his heart. I get it, I sound like a meatball, whatever. Watch Olson play for the Montana Grizzlies, and you’re going to love how he’s flying around always trying to make a play. You always need someone like this in your locker room. Olson is the energizer. He lights a spark on the field and gets the guys going. I’m praying the Bears take a chance on Olson, and if they don’t I’ll be keeping a close eye on him wherever he goes when training camp begins.