By Adam Hoge-
This is the first in a series of mock drafts for the Chicago Bears leading up the NFL Draft April 26-28.
(CBS) The Super Bowl is over, which means the NFL Draft “season” has officially begun.
The 2012 draft order isn’t completely finalized because Commissioner Roger Goodell has to do a couple coin flips at the NFL Combine later this month, but we know the Bears have the 19th overall pick in the first round and we can project out from there.
After the success with this series last year, I’m happy to bring it back again in 2012 and instead of just starting with the Bears’ first three picks like I did a year ago, we’re going to go ahead and project all eight draft picks the Bears have this year.
First, a few disclaimers. These picks are based on a combination of my evaluation of the players and my opinion of what the Bears need most. Some of you are going to agree with them and some of you will not. I get that. That’s part of the beauty of the NFL Draft.
Also — and I cannot stress this enough — I don’t write this series in an effort to pet my ego by getting the picks right. These picks aren’t based on who I think the Bears are going to draft. They’re based on who I think the Bears should draft. More importantly, the point of this series is to simply provide some insight into what the Bears need and give you a handful of names that might be around for each pick the Bears have. Most mock drafts only predict the first two rounds. I like to give you some players the Bears might be interested in beyond the first two rounds and to be honest, there’s a pretty good chance that none of the players I project end up on the Bears. Last year I nailed Gabe Carimi in the first round, but being right isn’t always a good thing because I also had the Bears taking Stephen Paea in the first round in a different edition of the series. The Bears ended up taking Paea in the second round and you could make the argument that he shouldn’t have been selected at all.
The point is, I’m not trying to be right with these picks, I’m just trying to allow you to become more familiar with some guys that could be future Bears. Remember that.
Also, keep in mind that each series is written to simulate an entire draft class. Thus, if I take a wide receiver in the first round, I probably won’t take one in the second round. After each pick, I’ll provide a couple of guys the Bears might also be interested in with that selection, but my second round pick is impacted by my first round pick and so on and so forth.
Let’s get to the picks:
1st round, No. 19: WR Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina (6-4, 229)
As I sat down and started sorting out the Bears’ draft needs, I quickly realized something startling: the Bears need everything. Honestly, one could make the argument that the Bears could use their first round pick on every position except quarterback, kicker, punter and long snapper. Even a running back wouldn’t be completely crazy because of Matt Forte’s uncertain status.
That said, one need stands out above the rest and that is at wide receiver. It’s important to remember that the wide receiver crop is pretty deep this year and there will be a number of guys available in the later rounds, but if Alshon Jeffery is on the board at No. 19, the Bears need to take him.
Many fans will want Notre Dame’s Michael Floyd, but the red flags scare me. The DUIs are a concern. Jeffery has almost no history with injuries or off the field problems and he did all his damage at South Carolina without elite quarterbacks. He lacks top end speed, but the Bears don’t need speed at wide receiver, they need size. Plus, it’s not like Jeffery is slow. His 40-time at the combine will be important to watch. He could be a 4.5 guy and that might be the difference between the top 10 and the second round. Jeffery doesn’t always handle physical corners well, but that’s something that can be worked on. He catches everything and the potential is sky high.
S Mark Barron, Alabama (6-2, 218) – The safety position is not very deep in this draft and if the Bears want a playmaking safety, they might be better off taking Barron here and looking at wide receivers in the second round. The wide receiver crop is much, much deeper.
OT Mike Adams, Ohio State (6-7, 323) – Adams looks like a starting left tackle in the NFL. Taking him here could solidify he and Gabe Carimi as the Bears’ starting tackles and give them added depth on the line.
2nd round, No. 18: DE Vinny Curry, Marshall (6-3, 265)
If the Bears don’t go with a safety in the first round, then their defensive priority should shift to upgrading the defensive line. I look at the Bears’ d-line situation the same way I look at the offense. The Bears need to put pieces next to Julius Peppers the same way they need to put pieces around Jay Cutler.
Vinny Curry flew under the radar in 2011 mainly because he played at Marshall. But the talented defensive end actually got my vote for the Bronko Nagurski Award (best defensive player). He’s not the athletic freak Peppers is, but that’s why he grades out a second rounder and not a first rounder. Curry has an explosive burst and is good at slipping blocks, while also being stout against the run. He would be a great compliment to Peppers on the line.
RB Doug Martin, Boise State (5-9, 219) – Martin isn’t your typical small back because he’s built well, can slip tackles and is a solid blocker in the backfield as well. With Forte’s future in doubt, it might be time to invest another second round pick in a running back.
WR Marvin McNutt, Iowa (6-2, 6-2 1/2, 216) – If the Bears don’t take a wide receiver in the first round, then they definitely should look a good crop of second rounders that could include McNutt. He’s a big bodied wide receiver with long arms and good hands. Has potential to move up with a good combine performance.
3rd round, No. 10 (from Carolina): DT Kendell Reyes, UConn (6-3 7/8, 300)
Upgrading at defensive end isn’t the only move the Bears need to make on the defensive line. In fact, getting a dynamic tackle is probably more important. Reyes turned some heads at the Senior Bowl and provides good value in the third round. The only question is whether or not he’ll still be around as he appears to be moving up some draft boards.
Reyes really looks like the elite pass rusher the Bears need inside and he has the athleticism to play in the five-technique, which could give the Bears some flexibility with moving Peppers inside on some snaps.
OT Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State (6-6, 322): Adcock projects as an early third rounder, but I could see a team reaching for him earlier. If he’s around he’s definitely worth a look, but he’s probably not a left tackle, meaning the Bears would need to move him inside or give Carimi a chance on the left side, which they appear unwilling to do.
G Jeff Allen, Illinois (6-4, 306): Allen played left and right tackle in college, but projects inside at the next level. He had an up-and-down performance at the Senior Bowl, but he definitely has a shot to start a guard at the NFL level. Worth a look here.
3rd round, No. 16: CB Trumain Johnson, Montana (6-2, 204)
Bears fans are understandably tired of undersized cornerbacks. At 6-2, 204, Johnson provides the size the Bears need at cornerback. He currently projects as a third rounder because of some character concerns and an arrest on his record, but he could move up with a solid combine. The knock on him is his inexperience in press coverage, but that’s something that can be developed. He looks like a solid Cover-2 corner with a ton of potential.
WR Brian Quick, Appalachian State (6-3 1/2, 222): If Johnson is off the board, Quick is my pick here, even with Jeffery drafted in the first round. Unfortunately, Quick’s lack of quickness is what might drop him this far, but he showed at the Senior Bowl that he can run routes very well and can go up and get the ball. As I talked about with Jeffery, that’s what the Bears need. He looks like a solid compliment to Jeffery and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing him more in my later mock drafts. He’s a guy who could really help himself at the combine.
LB Keenan Robinson, Texas (6-3 1/8, 240): Robinson is an athletic linebacker who will probably need some time to pick up the Bears’ Cover-2, but he would provide depth behind an aging linebacker group. I admittedly might be reaching here as he’s probably more of a late third round pick, but we’ll have to see how he performs in his draft prep.
4th round, No. 16: C Mike Brewster, Ohio State (6-4 1/4, 310)
Brewster doesn’t have the athleticism of Wisconsin’s Peter Konz who will likely go in the first round, but he’s an exceptional pass blocker and solid run blocker. Roberto Garza is just “a guy” to me and he’s not exactly young so the time might be right to invest in another center for the future. Brewster looks like the kind of center who will stay healthy and quietly start for one team for years to come. There’s a big dropoff behind Brewster so there’s a chance a team reaches for him earlier.
OT Nate Potter, Boise State (6-6, 300): Potter needs to build strength in his lower half and probably isn’t ready to start right away, but he’s very athletic and could be moved around where the Bears need him.
TE Deangelo Peterson, LSU (6-2 7/8, 230): Peterson appears to have the tools to be a dynamic pass catching tight end in the NFL. His combination of size and speed is exactly what the Bears need at the position, but he definitely needs to be coached up. Work ethic has been an issue and he’s not going to be a great blocker. Still worth a look here.
5th round, No. 15: WR Juron Criner, Arizona (6-2 1/8, 220)
If I had taken Quick in the third round, then I wouldn’t take Criner here, but it would be a good idea for the Bears to take two big wide receivers in the draft and I like Criner in the fifth round. The Arizona wide receiver made some terrific catches during Senior Bowl week and he has a ton of potential. There are some questions about where he is mentally, which is why he’ll probably fall at least to the fifth round, but with some coaching, he could be a steal.
WR DeVier Posey, Ohio State (6-1 5/8, 209): The Bears reportedly met with Posey in Mobile, which doesn’t mean much, except that they’re at least curious early on. Posey is a reliable receiver, but he’s had some fumble issues after the catch. He also needs work on his route running, but at this point in the draft, all players are going to have faults like this. Posey has potential.
CB Asa Jackson, Cal Poly (5-9 7/8, 193): You’re not going to find a big corner this late in the draft, but Jackson is underrated because of his length. He also has good quickness and breaks to the ball well. He really stood out at the Senior Bowl because he was playing harder than most throughout the week. If he’s around in the fifth round, he’s definitely worth drafting.
6th round, No. 14: CB Dwight “Bill” Bentley, Louisiana-Lafayette (5-9 7/8, 176)
Bentley is similar to Jackson in quickness and ability to break on the ball, but he’s not a strong corner. That said, he showed in Mobile that he’s not afraid to challenge receivers and be physical with them despite his deficiencies. In a deep crop of cornerbacks, Bentley could be a steal this late in the draft.
WR B.J. Cunningham, Michigan State (6-2, 215): Cunningham isn’t very physical, but he can be very dangerous after the catch and he has the height to go up and get the football. A solid late option if the Bears are still looking for a receiver.
S Winston Guy Jr, Kentucky (6-1, 216): Has good size at the safety position for a late round pick. He’ll slip because he’s not big hitter, but he has good ball skills and could be a play-maker in the Cover-2. Considered a good tackler despite being a catcher instead of a hitter.
7th round, No. 13: OT James Carmon, Mississippi State (6-7, 320)
Why is a 6-7, 320 offensive tackle going in the seventh round? Because he’s only been an offensive tackle for one season and was clearly very raw while playing the position. The former defensive tackle showed signs of potential with natural athleticism, however, and in the seventh round is definitely worth taking a flyer on. He’s the kind of guy you can develop and maybe you’ll strike gold.
ILB Tank Carder, TCU (6-3, 237): Carder isn’t a fast linebacker, but he’s a solid tackler and a big hitter. He has good instincts and is good at making plays on the ball in coverage. The question is, can he get there? He’s a smart player and would be a solid fourth linebacker/special teams player on any team.
WR Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma (5-10, 188): If the Bears still need a wide receiver at this point (and really, when won’t they need a wide receiver?), Broyles is a solid option. He’ll drop this far because he tore his ACL in November, but before that happened, he was one of the most productive receivers in college football. He’s not a big guy, but he’s fast and can get open. Basically, he’s Devin Hester, except he can actually run routes.
So, what do you think? Let’s discuss. Either shoot me a tweet at @AdamHogeCBS or leave a comment below. I’m sure it will be a fun conversation.
Adam is the Sports Content Producer for CBSChicago.com and specializes in coverage of the Bears, White Sox and college sports. He was born and raised in Lincoln Park and attended St. Ignatius College Prep before going off to the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a Journalism degree. Follow him on Twitter @AdamHogeCBS and read more of his columns here.