By Adam Hoge-
This is the second in a series of mock drafts for the Chicago Bears leading up to the NFL Draft May 8-10.
(CBS) — The NFL Combine is over, which means draft boards are starting to get organized in a more orderly fashion.
Team needs, however, are still hard to pin down as free agency has not opened yet.
In Mock Draft 1.0, I went with a safety for the Bears in the first round and the rest of the draft fell accordingly. Equally valid arguments for going with a defensive lineman in the first round can be made, however, and that’s the direction I went with in 2.0.
Here’s how it all played out:
1st Round, No. 14: DT Aaron Donald, Pittsburgh (6-1, 285 lbs)
No player stood out more at the Senior Bowl than Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald. He is lightning quick off the snap and gets upfield in a hurry. The motor never stops. Donald’s lack of size will be a concern to some, but it doesn’t seem to hinder him on the football field. The arms measured in at 32 5/8 at the NFL Combine, which is more than adequate. There’s some concern about how Donald plays the run, but he checks all the boxes as a 4-3 pass rushing 3-technique. His 27.5 sacks and 63 TFLs over the last three years is very impressive. As a bonus, he was also a team captain and will be seen as a leader at the next level.
If the Bears go with a defensive lineman in the first round, they’ll get more value by going with Donald than a defensive end at No. 14 (assuming Jadeveon Clowney and Kony Ealy are off the board).
2nd Round, No. 19: LB Chris Borland, Wisconsin (5-11, 248)
Turn on any Wisconsin tape and you’ll immediately notice No. 44 flying around the field. At 5-11, Borland is undersized, but he uses it to his advantage by hiding from blockers. The epitome of a hard-working overachiever, his motor is always running and he usually finds some way to get to the football. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said Borland might be the best blitzing linebacker he’s ever seen, but what’s really impressive is that even when he doesn’t get home on a blitz, you’ll often see him recover and make a tackle downfield anyway.
When asked to evaluate Borland, I often equate him to Russell Wilson, even though they play on opposite sides of the ball. Like Wilson, Borland’s measurable are questioned, but if you trust the tape and value the linebacker’s ability to measure up and diagnose opposing offenses, you see a future NFL starter.
Borland played both middle and outside linebacker in a 4-3 at Wisconsin, as well as inside in a 3-4 this past season. But he has the speed and athleticism to cover the deep part of the field, and his ability to force turnovers (14 career forced fumbles) and read run-pass keys make him a perfect fit as a 4-3 middle linebacker, a hole the Bears need to fill.
3rd Round, No. 18: S Deone Bucannon, Washington State (6-1, 211)
I know what you’re thinking: another third round safety? By not taking one in the first round, the Bears can likely wait until the third round because there’s quite a separation between the top tier (Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor) and everyone else.
Bucannon is a hard-hitter who will need to control himself at the next level, but he’s a good tackler who reads the run well and explodes to the football. Some have questioned his speed, but he ran a good 4.49 40-yard dash at the Combine. The question is, does he play at that speed?
Bucannon’s technique in coverage needs some work, which is why he projects as a strong safety — a position of great need for the Chicago Bears.
4th Round, No. 17: LB Telvin Smith, Florida State (6-3, 218)
This is not necessarily a pick of need, but rather taking the best player on the board and finding a spot for him on your defense. I’m not sure there’s a more polarizing guy in the draft than Telvin Smith in terms of determining what position he should play and figuring out what round he’ll be drafted.
Personally, I think Smith is a second-round talent, but because of his lack of experience (only one season as a starter at FSU) and odd frame for a linebacker, some believe he could slip all the way to the fifth round.
I look at Smith as a fast, instinctual football player who can be tried out at a few positions, maybe even ending up as one of the better safeties in the league. His skill set screams weak side linebacker, however, as he anticipates where the ball is going to be, weaves through traffic and uses his top-end closing speed to clean up.
We can leave the position to be determined for now, but for a team like the Bears that has plenty of positions to fill on defense, a talented guy like Smith would be perfect to bring in and experiment with at multiple spots during the offseason.
5th Round, No. 16: CB Jaylen Watkins, Florida (5-11, 194)
Here’s another player who has some positional versatility. Watkins played both cornerback and safety at Florida and possesses the fluid hips and speed to play either position at the next level. His size might fit better at corner, however, and some have questioned his strength in man coverage, which is why he might fall this far. That said, Watkins performed well in the bench press at the Combine and I saw a guy who stuck with opposing receivers in press coverage at the Senior Bowl.
Jaylen is the brother of wide receiver Sammy Watkins, who should be a top five draft pick this year.
6th Round, No. 7: DE Brent Urban, Virginia (6-7, 295)
I’m not sold on Brent Urban, but I see enough upside to take a chance on him in the sixth round. The lengthy defensive lineman played tackle in Virginia’s 4-3 defense and most seem to project him as a 5-technique in a 3-4 at the next level. However, I see a guy who is stout against the run and has the potential to rush the passer as a 4-3 end with the right coaching. The strength and power is clear at the point of attack, but it remains to be seen if Urban can get upfield and disrupt the passer. Playing inside, he only had three sacks in four years of playing time at Virginia.
Urban is an Ontario native who was actually drafted 15th overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the CFL Draft last year. He played hockey growing up and durability might be a concern. He missed four games this season and dropped out of the Senior Bowl with a foot injury.
6th Round, No. 15: DE Larry Webster, Bloomsburg (6-6, 252)
If the name sounds familiar, it should. Webster is the son of 11-year NFL veteran Larry Webster Jr. His school is probably not familiar, however, and it shouldn’t be. It’s a D-II school in Pennsylvania where Webster played basketball for four years. But the intriguing prospect switched to football his final year and was pretty impressive, recording 13.5 sacks and 15 TFLs.
At only 252 pounds, Webster has to bulk up if he wants to play defensive end in the NFL. He has the frame to do it though and his height and speed (4.58 40-yard) make me think he has a chance at the position if he takes a “redshirt” year. GMs might have a different plan for him, however, as Webster might make a good linebacker or, possibly even better, a tight end.
Individual workouts will be interesting for Webster as plenty of teams will have different ideas for him. There’s no doubt he’s a project, but he’s a very intriguing project that could help the Bears at one of three different areas of need.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.
(All photos courtesy Getty Images.)