By Chris Emma–
(CBS) We’ve reached the point of the offseason in which the headlines are about bare quarterbacks rather than Bear quarterbacks.
That means the dust has all but settled on free agency and teams have settled their rosters with the NFL Draft now less than a month away.
General managers are compounding scouting reports upon one another and gathering any bit of extra information that could make or break a draft decision. Prospects are going through their pro days, looking to make one final impression on a scout before the names begin to get called.
What will actually happen in the draft will certainly surprise. It always seems to do so. Look at last April, when the Rams and Eagles both traded up to take quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz with the first two picks, respectively. Laremy Tunsil was long projected to go No. 1 overall. Then a video of him smoking from a gas mask dropped him to the 13th pick.
Surprises are sure to come and blow up every mock draft. The Bears could create the first in this class if they elect to trade down with their No. 3 pick.
For now, we wait for the picks to start coming.
1.) Cleveland Browns — Myles Garrett, edge rusher (Texas A&M)
For all their draft blunders of the past, the Browns will get this one right and take the best player in this class. Garrett is a freak, checking into the combine at 6-foot-4, 272 pounds, running a 4.64 40 -yard dash (1.63 10 split), pumping 33 bench reps while registering a 41-inch vertical and 10-foot, 8-inch broad jump. There’s no debate on this top pick.
2.) San Francisco 49ers — Solomon Thomas, DE (Stanford)
Rookie 49ers general manager John Lynch has talked a lot about the quarterbacks. Is it a bluff or is the newcomer not hiding his hand? It’s most likely a smokescreen as his team stays in the Bay Area and takes Thomas out of Stanford. After all, Lynch knows defenses win championships.
Note: Trading down could give the Bears their best opportunity to maximize value. There are several defensive players on the board who fit what Pace is looking to identify — a game-changing talent for their unit — and moving down from No. 3 could present a great opportunity if the right trade suitor is in place.
3.) Chicago Bears — Jonathan Allen, DE (Alabama)
The Bears hope they’re never in this position again of drafting so high. But going 3-13 presents the chance to add a potentially great player to the roster. Safeties Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker will be tempting, but Pace will favor the front seven and solidify his revamped pass rush with Allen, placing the All-American from Alabama next to Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks.
4.) Jacksonville Jaguars — Leonard Fournette, RB (LSU)
Some are simply worthy of breaking draft trends, and there’s a case to be made for Fournette going fourth. The Jaguars are looking to strengthen an offense with some young potential in place. Fournette has drawn comparisons to Adrian Peterson and could join their youth movement at a promising time.
5.) Tennessee Titans — Marshon Lattimore, CB (Ohio State)
After being aggressive in the free-agent market in pursuit of a cornerback, the Titans came away with Logan Ryan, who fits more as a No. 2. Lattimore can be a top cornerback and join Ryan to create a formidable tandem in the secondary.
6.) New York Jets — Deshaun Watson, QB (Clemson)
Forever in search of a franchise quarterback, the Jets pass on a defensive playmaker and take Watson. They have Josh McCown as a bridge and Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty as developmental prospects. In Watson, the leader of Clemson’s championship, the Jets add hope to the mix.
7.) Los Angeles Chargers — Jamal Adams, S (LSU)
The Chargers get a major upgrade to their defense, pleased to see Adams fall out of the top five and to their placement with the seventh pick. Adams is a complete player at safety, a threat in the run game who’s steady in coverage. This would be a big win for the newest Los Angeles team.
8.) Carolina Panthers — Dalvin Cook, RB (Florida State)
Tempted by a defensive back, the Panthers go with the expected move and add another element to their offense at running back. Enter Cook, the speedster out of Florida State who could bolster the Cam Newton-led unit and make life difficult for opposing defensive coordinators.
9.) Cincinnati Bengals — Derek Barnett, DE (Tennessee)
Many scouts aren’t afraid to put Barnett in the same class as Thomas and Allen. He would be an excellent fit for the Bengals’ defense, adding a dynamic pass rusher to the mix.
10.) Buffalo Bills — Malik Hooker, S (Ohio State)
Thrilled to see him fall this far, coach Sean McDermott adds to his defense by adding a tremendous talent at safety. Hooker posted seven interceptions last season with the Buckeyes, and the film shows they were no fluke.
11.) New Orleans Saints — O.J. Howard, TE (Alabama)
There are good defensive players on the board, but the Saints are tempted by another target for Drew Brees. In Howard, they add a dangerous player alongside Coby Fleener and Josh Hill at tight end.
12.) Cleveland Browns — Mitchell Trubisky, QB (North Carolina)
After taking the top player in this class with the first pick, the Browns move for their man at quarterback and select the intriguing upside of Trubisky with their second of five picks in the top 65. Trubisky started just one season at North Carolina, but he has all the tools to succeed.
13.) Arizona Cardinals — Mike Williams, WR (Clemson)
While it seems that Larry Fitzgerald is ageless, he may decline at some point. The Cardinals line up Williams alongside Fitzgerald for several seasons and make him the No. 1 in time. Williams seems to be the real deal.
14.) Philadelphia Eagles — Gareon Conley, CB (Ohio State)
Another Buckeye defensive back goes in the first round as the Eagles solidify their secondary with Conley. Howie Roseman, the top executive, fills a dire need with a good prospect from this deep class of corners.
15.) Indianapolis Colts — Teez Tabor, CB (Florida)
New general manager Chris Ballard worked for years with the Bears and helped scout a defense that became one of the league’s best. He will work to do the same in leading the Colts, making Tabor his first first-round pick in Indianapolis.
16.) Baltimore Ravens — Corey Davis, WR (Western Michigan)
Joe Flacco needs a top target, and Davis could be just that. While there are concerns that he may be a fluke after playing in the MAC, Davis has high potential as an NFL receiver. Flacco’s big arm could make him even better.
17.) Washington Redskins — Jabrill Peppers, LB/S (Michigan)
The most intriguing player in this draft class, Peppers can play linebacker or safety and many teams are talking about him as a potential fit on offense. Peppers boasts great athleticism that will fit in the return game, and he could perhaps even garner some carries at running back or reps at receiver.
18.) Tennessee Titans — John Ross, WR (Washington)
Imagine Marcus Mariota throwing to the 4.22 speed of Ross, who set an NFL Combine record with his run in Indianapolis. The Titans would be adding quite the element to their offense by selecting the Washington standout.
19.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Tre’Davious White, CB (LSU)
A factory for talented defensive backs, LSU has another first-round talent in White, who would fit well with the Buccaneers’ defense. White has shown in the SEC that he can manage tough matchups against top receivers.
20.) Denver Broncos — Cam Robinson, OT (Alabama)
Looking to add stability for their offense, the Broncos call upon Robinson to improve the offensive line. Robinson was an All-American at Alabama who could fit at on the left or right side.
21.) Detroit Lions — Taco Charlton, DE (Michigan)
Bob Quinn has done an excellent job improving the Lions roster in just his second offseason as general manager. Still, they could use a boost in the pass rush. Enter Charlton, who earned All-Big Ten honors down the road in Ann Arbor while posting 9.5 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss last season.
22.) Miami Dolphins — Charles Harris, DE (Missouri)
There are a lot of ways for the Dolphins to go, and while offensive-minded coach Adam Gase may be tempted to choose for his side of the ball, Miami will instead move for another pass rusher in Harris.
23.) New York Giants — Garett Bolles, OT (Utah)
The Giants added Brandon Marshall to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard, but it won’t matter if Eli Manning isn’t upright to throw the ball. Bolles can help stabilize an offensive line that struggled last season.
24.) Oakland Raiders — Rueben Foster, LB (Alabama)
If Foster were to fall — and it’s possible — the Raiders would be licking their chops waiting for him. They would love to add a talented linebacker to join Khalil Mack and their budding defense.
Note: If the Bears have plans to trade and acquire another first-round pick in order to select a quarterback, their range begins around the 25th pick, where the Texans are a strong candidate to choose a quarterback of their own.
25.) Houston Texans — Patrick Mahomes III, QB (Texas Tech)
With their quarterback future completely in question, the Texans move for the big arm of Mahomes, who would likely require a redshirt year to grow into the NFL. Houston coach Bill O’Brien would be an ideal mentor for Mahomes and could turn him into a franchise quarterback.
26.) Seattle Seahawks — Ryan Ramczyk, OT (Wisconsin)
The Seahawks had one of the worst offensive lines in football last season, a unit that made life difficult for Russell Wilson. In Ramczyk, they would be selecting a tenacious tackle who could also slide down to guard.
27.) Kansas City Chiefs — DeShone Kizer, QB (Chiefs)
Frustrations at the quarterback position lend to the Chiefs taking Kizer, who some view as the top quarterback in this class but who could very well could be the fourth taken. Kizer has a strong arm, good feet and a tremendous IQ. A year of development behind Alex Smith could only benefit his game.
Note: Given this scenario, the Bears would be looking toward the middle rounds for either Nate Peterman or Davis Webb. If their plans include a quarterback, they would have to be aggressive in the first round or hope for one to fall to their 36th pick. It’s possible only three quarterbacks go in the first round.
28.) Dallas Cowboys — Marlon Humphrey, CB (Alabama)
The Cowboys add to their defense with a gifted athlete in Humphrey, who could become a shutdown cornerback in time. Humphrey is a physical player who needs some coaching to improve his ball skills, but the potential is there.
29.) Green Bay Packers — T.J. Watt, edge rusher (Wisconsin)
Staying in state, the Packers move for Watt and take a dynamic rusher for their defense. Watt is more than just J.J.’s brother, posting 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss while earning All-Big Ten honors at Wisconsin. He would be an excellent fit for a Green Bay defense in need of better talent.
30.) Pittsburgh Steelers — David Njoku, TE (Miami)
A player like Njoku could thrive playing alongside Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown in the Steelers offense. It’s picking luxury over need, but Pittsburgh could make its offense even more dangerous with a player of Njoku’s caliber.
31.) Atlanta Falcons — Takkarist McKinley, edge rusher (UCLA)
Initially viewed as a high pick, McKinley had shoulder surgery after the NFL Combine. This allows a team like the Falcons to take a chance late in the first round and score another edge rusher for their rising defense.
32.) New Orleans Saints — Christian McCaffrey, RB (Stanford)
While this, the Saints’ second first-round pick, could be used as a trade piece, there’s also a good way to use it on the board. For all the wonders of what kind of role suits McCaffrey, there’s a mastermind like Sean Payton eager to explore that possibility. McCaffrey is an outstanding athlete who could thrive alongside Drew Brees and the Saints offense.