By Adam Hoge–
This is the second in a series of mock drafts for the Chicago Bears leading up to the NFL Draft April 28-30.
The NFL Combine is now over and nearly a month has passed since our first Bears mock draft. Naturally, some players moved up on the draft boards and some players moved down. How will that affect who the Bears will take in next month’s draft?
We also now know all of the Bears draft picks, which we didn’t know in our first mock draft. That will allow us to project the Bears’ entire draft.
The Bears’ six 2011 draft picks:
1st round – No. 29 overall
2nd round – No. 62 overall
3rd round – No. 93 overall
4th round – No. 126 overall
5th round – No. 157 overall
6th round – No. 190 overall
The Bears do not have a seventh round pick because they used it in the 2010 supplemental draft where they selected running back Harvey Unga from BYU. Unga, coincidentally, was in the supplemental draft because he was dismissed from BYU in April for violating the school’s honor code.
Let’s get to the picks (for reference, here is Bears Mock Draft 1.o):
1st round, No. 29 overall: OT Derek Sherrod, Mississippi State (6-5, 321 lbs.)
It will continue to be interesting to see how the offensive tackles get shuffled on the draft board. I previously had Wisconsin left tackle Gabe Carimi here, but he has benefitted from some inconsistency shown by Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo and Colorado’s Nate Solder, as well as an injury to USC’s Tyron Smith. Carimi had a strong combine as well and it’s doubtful he’ll still be around at No. 29. Some believe Smith is the best tackle in the draft, but he pulled out of the combine suddenly after participating in the bench press. Some fluid was found in his knee, but he is expected to be 100 percent at USC’s Pro Day March 31. I was tempted to put Smith here after the injury, but most think he will be fine and it will be hard for him to slip past the Lions at No. 13.
That puts four tackles ahead of Sherrod and with the Bears selecting No. 29th overall, it’s likely they will end up with the fifth-best tackle. Sherrod is a little shorter than the other guys at 6-5, but he’s still big enough and many consider him to have the best blocking technique among all the offensive linemen in the draft. Smith, Solder, Castonzo and Carimi are going to wow scouts with their athleticism, but Sherrod is just a sure-blocker who gets the job done.
2nd round, No. 62 overall: DT Marvin Austin, North Carolina (6-2, 309 lbs.)
I previously had a different Tar Heel — cornerback Kendric Burney — going to the Bears in the second round, but Tommie Harris was since released and defensive tackle is now a greater need. Austin is an interesting player because he missed his entire senior season after the NCAA started investigating whether he and other teammates improperly received benefits. That has plenty of NFL teams worried, but Austin was good enough a year ago to enter the draft early and go in the first round. The question is, is he in shape? Austin answered that question at the combine by posting the third-best 40-time (4.90) and the second-best bench press (38 reps at 225 lbs.) among defensive tackles. Still, it seems likely Austin will slip well into the second round after not playing for a year and if he gets all the way to the Bears, it would be hard for them to pass him up.
3rd round, No. 93 overall: OT/G Clint Boling, Georgia (6-5, 308 lbs.)
My raid on linemen continues and if you can’t tell by now, I believe every football team should be built inside-out. There’s a small chance Burney will still be available here and if he is, I would definitely take him. With that said, the next two cornerbacks I like are Ohio State’s Chimdi Chekwa and USC’s Shareece Wright and I think both will still be available for the Bears in the fourth round. I also love San Diego State wide receiver Vincent Brown, who I took with this pick in our last mock draft, but he’s flying under the radar and could still be an option in the fourth or even fifth round.
At this point, my top corners and wide receivers are gone so instead of reaching and taking one too early, I’m headed back to the offensive line to find a versatile guy with experience who I can move around. Clint Boling was a four-year starter at Georgia and played both tackle and guard. He’s likely a guard in the NFL, which is fine because I already took Sherrod in the first round. Boling is pretty athletic and had a good combine. He also stood out in the Senior Bowl and provides great value in the third round.
4th round, No. 126 overall: CB Shareece Wright, USC (5-11, 185 lbs.)
I struggled over this one for a while as I think the safer pick might be Chekwa. Wright had a ton of obstacles to overcome at USC and was only on the field for about two of the five years he spent there. First he dealt with playing time issues, then injuries and then academic problems. It wasn’t until 2010 when he became a full-time starter, but he was able to put phenomenal numbers with 73 tackles, 7 tackles-for-loss and 2.5 sacks. His combine numbers were pretty good as well. Wright’s history is going to keep him out of the early rounds, but he may be a steal here and is a good fit in the Cover-2.
Chekwa, meanwhile, is a speed-demon, but struggles in one-on-one coverage. That may be OK in the Bears’ defense, but he doesn’ t possess the ball-hawking skills Lovie Smith loves. Chekwa is a very smart player and Ohio State has a good reputation for cornerbacks, but I think the fourth round is too high for him.
5th round, No. 157 overall: WR Vincent Brown, San Diego State (5-11, 187 lbs.)
In my last mock draft, I had Brown going to the Bears in the third round, but he didn’t have a great combine and he measured in even smaller than he was previously listed. There are a few scouts who still believe he is a third round talent and based on what I saw on film — which I value a lot more than measureables — I concur with those scouts. Still, 5-11 is very small for a wide receiver and the 4.71 40-time Brown posted at the combine won’t help his stock at 187 lbs. This could work to the Bears advantage, however, and I think he’s a steal in the fifth round.
6th round, No. 190 overall: LB Eric Gordon, Michigan State (6-0, 224 lbs.)
Here’s a guy who I love and is flying completely under the radar. Greg Jones got all the love at Michigan State during Gordon’s career, but I had a chance to see Gordon play in-person three times and he was always flying around the football field. A four-year starter, Gordon racked up 332 tackles, 29.5 TFLs and 9.5 sacks in his career at Michigan State. He didn’t receive an invite to the combine, but we’ll see what numbers he can put up at his pro day March 16. Quite frankly, I don’t care what his numbers say. Gordon is a flat-out football player who at the very least would be able to bring what Hunter Hillenmeyer brought to the Bears in his career. The Bears’ linebackers aren’t getting any younger and Gordon would provide depth as a fourth LB.
For more on the NFL Draft and college football throughout the year, follow Adam on Twitter @AdamHoge670.