By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Come next Thursday, general manager Ryan Pace and his Bears brass will endure quite the wait.
After months of scouting and weeks of follow-up work, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will declare the draft underway, beginning the Bears’ wait for the 11th pick. Pace and his trusted team will have their ducks in a row and every possible scenario prepared. Waiting will be the hardest part.
Who will the Bears take at No. 11 overall? There will be several options in play, many of which entail the simple hope of a top-five or top-10 talent falling to their slot. The dream would be for a Myles Jack, Joey Bosa or Laremy Tunsil to fall, but that’s not likely. DeForest Buckner, Ronnie Stanley and Ezekiel Elliott are more realistic options. Drafting a Leonard Floyd, Shaq Lawson or Kevin Dodd would work, too.
My gut sees a scenario in which Paxton Lynch goes in the top 10, taken by the Browns, who can still come away with a quarterback at No. 8 after trading back by sending the No. 2 pick to the Eagles on Wednesday. This would push a terrific playmaker out to the Bears at No. 11, and I feel it will be Elliott, who rushed for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2015.
By adding Elliott, a player with whom the Bears are greatly familiar, Chicago can create a terrific backfield trio along with Jeremy Langford and Ka’Deem Carey. Bears coach John Fox has been known to work several running backs into his offense.
What’s to come next Thursday in Chicago? Chaos, most likely.
But here’s my best effort at a mock draft:
1) Los Angeles Rams — Jared Goff, QB (California)
Jeff Fisher and Les Snead may know whether it’s Goff or Carson Wentz, but they’ve kept that secret between themselves.
2) Philadelphia Eagles — Carson Wentz, QB (North Dakota State)
It’ll be Goff if the Rams side with Wentz, but Eagles brass made its bold move believing in either of the two quarterbacks.
3) San Diego Chargers — Jalen Ramsey, DB (Florida State)
Ramsey’s going to make the Rams and Eagles regret taking a quarterback when his career is over. This star in the making at cornerback or safety is the real deal.
4) Dallas Cowboys— Myles Jack, LB (UCLA)
The medicals came back OK for Jack, solidifying his place as a top-10 pick. Jack brings versatility to play many positions in an NFL defense.
5) Jacksonville Jaguars — Joey Bosa, DE (Ohio State)
Quietly, the Jaguars are building a terrific defense. Jacksonville also gets a healthy Dante Fowler in 2016.
6) Baltimore Ravens — Laremy Tunsil, OT (Ole Miss)
The maneuvering atop the draft order means Tunsil falls from a sure top-three pick down to the Ravens. It would be surprising if he went lower than that.
7) San Francisco 49ers — DeForest Buckner, DE (Oregon)
For a man of his great size, Buckner is more often the low man in the trenches. He’s a gifted, versatile pass rusher.
8) Cleveland Browns — Paxton Lynch, QB (Memphis)
The Browns can still come away with a quarterback after trading down. Ezekiel Elliott’s another option, too.
9) Tampa Bay Buccaneers — Vernon Hargreaves, CB (Florida)
Here’s a major upgrade for the Bucs’ secondary. But can Hargreaves hold his own against big receivers like Julio Jones?
10) New York Giants — Ronnie Stanley, OT (Notre Dame)
The Giants’ brass has done its homework on Stanley. He could use some development at the NFL level but is a worthwhile top-10 pick.
11) Chicago Bears — Ezekiel Elliott, RB (Ohio State)
John Fox likes to have a stable of versatility in his backfields, and Elliott can do it all. The Bears will be looking for a top-10 talent dropping to No. 11, and Elliott may be that guy.
12) New Orleans Saints — Laquon Treadwell, WR (Ole Miss)
Treadwell would be quite the complement to Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense.
13) Miami Dolphins — Shaq Lawson, DE/OLB (Clemson)
Pairing up Lawson and Ndamukong Suh would make Miami’s defensive line elite.
14) Oakland Raiders — William Jackson III, CB (Houston)
Many scouts view Jackson as a drastically underrated prospect in this draft. The Raiders’ revamped defense would greatly benefit.
15) Tennessee Titans — Jack Conklin, OT (Michigan State)
Conklin’s better at right tackle but could fit as the blind-side protection for Marcus Mariota.
16) Detroit Lions — Taylor Decker, OT (Ohio State)
Decker would be a mean, physical tackle for the Lions’ offense. Matthew Stafford would enjoy the presence of him.
17) Atlanta Falcons — Leonard Floyd, OLB (Georgia)
The Falcons have studied up on Floyd, a Georgia product who could play professionally down the road from Athens.
18) Indianapolis Colts — Kevin Dodd, DE (Clemson)
Ryan Grigson needs to finally value defensive playmakers. Dodd would make an impact for the Colts.
19) Buffalo Bills — Sheldon Rankins, DT (Louisville)
Here’s an anchor for Rex Ryan’s defensive line in Buffalo. Rankins has the size and athleticism to change games.
20) New York Jets — Reggie Ragland, LB (Alabama)
As Todd Bowles attempts to build a defense in New York, he can add Ragland to the middle of his unit.
21) Washington Redskins — A’Shawn Robinson, DT (Alabama)
Washington can add quite the big body to its defense by drafting Robinson, whose nickname is “Manchild.”
22) Houston Texans — Josh Doctson, WR (TCU)
Vastly underrated, Doctson may be the best receiver in this draft class. Putting him opposite DeAndre Hopkins would give him plenty of opportunity to make plays.
23) Minnesota Vikings — Will Fuller, WR (Notre Dame)
Fuller’s a home run hitter whose hands have come into question. Still, throw the deep ball and he has the speed to go get it. Teddy Bridgewater would be a happy man.
24) Cincinnati Bengals — Jarran Reed, DT (Alabama)
A good defense can get even better with a solid value in Reed, yet another Alabama defender off the board.
25) Pittsburgh Steelers — Mackensie Alexander, CB (Clemson)
Alexander’s a pest in man coverage. The Steelers can trust him on an island against top receivers.
26) Seattle Seahawks — Robert Nkemdiche, DE (Ole Miss)
The greatest character liability in the draft class, Nkemdiche has much to prove off the field. Perhaps Pete Carroll would trust the explosive pass rusher under his watchful eye.
27) Green Bay Packers — Darron Lee, LB (Ohio State)
Lee could make a major impact for the Packers’ defense, bringing the kind of athleticism not often seen at linebacker.
28) Kansas City Chiefs – Eli Apple, CB (Ohio State)
Kansas City needs to replace Sean Smith’s spot in the secondary, and Apple would be a nice addition to the defense.
29) Arizona Cardinals – Andrew Billings, Defensive Tackle (Baylor)
Bruce Arians and his staff can coach up anybody. Billings needs to fine-tune his game a bit.
30) Carolina Panthers – Noah Spence, DE (Eastern Kentucky)
Spence swears that his troubles are in the past. If so, he’ll be an excellent late first-round addition for the NFC’s top defense.
31) Denver Broncos – Connor Cook, QB (Michigan State)
Who’s going to replace Peyton Manning? The Broncos will jump for a quarterback to close out the first round.