Chicago’s 2020 left a feeling of emptiness for most who followed the Bears through their tumultuous campaign. There were quarterback questions and unrest in the front office, all to start out 5-1 and earn a playoff berth. Although it was short-lived in a rather non-competitive matchup against the New Orleans Saints, the playoffs are the playoffs, no matter how you get there.
The 2021 offseason has been unpleasant, to say the least. In what seems to be head coach Matt Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace’s last hurrah, the only headlines out of Chicago this spring have been negative, with the departure of arguably their most productive defensive lineman in Roy Robertson-Harris and their top corner in Kyle Fuller. Additionally, the smoke screen that was the rumors of Russell Wilson to Chicago never came to fruition, so the team signed journeyman Andy Dalton to lead them. Great! (sarcasm font)
However, there is light at the end of the tunnel in the NFL draft that commences in just under a month where Pace can look to add upon a nice foundation of players on either side of the ball to contend in a rather wide-open NFC North behind Green Bay.
With free agency now in its latter stages, let’s get right into it. Using our Mock Draft Machine, I looked at which prospects Chicago could target in this post-free-agency draft haul. Here is my seven-round mock including scheme fit on each prospect:
Round 1 (No. 20 overall): Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
As an investment for whoever is under center in the near future, Darrisaw is the easy selection here at No. 20 overall. With all top-tier gun-slingers off the board, the former Hokie solidifies one of the more aging offensive lines in all of football. In some cases, you could say this pick is more for the development of David Montgomery, whose physical style of play at the running back position has the potential to blossom even further behind Darrisaw, a future Pro Bowler at the tackle position.
Round 2 (No. 53 overall): Rondale Moore, WR, Purdue
Allen Robinson’s return in 2021 will do wonders for Dalton, even if No. 12 doesn’t want to be in the Windy City down the road. If he wants a contract next year, he’ll play this season. Darnell Mooney has been a nice surprise on the outside with excellent speed who developed into a featured wideout in Bill Lazor’s offense.
Moore is one of my favorite prospects in this entire class. He has the ability to become a Pro Bowler in his first season. He’s that special, and I have zero injury concerns. With Robinson, Mooney, and Moore, the Bears have an outstanding trio of wideouts with Anthony Miller working rotationally on third down or serving as a trade chip for Pace.
Round 3 (No. 83 overall): Paulson Adebo, CB, Stanford
The departure of Fuller could have a significant impact on Chicago’s strength, their defense. Adebo has the talent and length at 6-foot-1 to immediately become the Bears’ top corner alongside free-agent acquisition Desmond Trufant and soon-to-be sophomore Jaylon Johnson. A once-promising secondary has now become a major position of emphasis moving into the draft.
Round 5 (No. 164 overall): Joshuah Bledsoe, S, Missouri
The team re-signed Deon Bush to pair with Eddie Jackson, but they need a true influx of juice adjacent to him to let him do his job wreaking havoc at every level of the defense. Bledsoe is a versatile talent who can work near the LOS or in single-high at the apex of the Bears’ defense. He’s a riser this offseason following an outstanding week at the Senior Bowl and should add needed depth to the Bears’ secondary.
Round 6 (No. 204 overall): Tristen Hoge, IOL, BYU
With Montgomery in the backfield, the Bears desperately need depth within the interior to get back to Chicago Bears football, imposing their will in the run game similar to the days with Walter Payton and Gale Sayers. Darrisaw offers that presence on the outside, and Hoge has the ability to replicate it on the inside at either guard spot. He’s a developmental project right now behind Germain Ifedi and James Daniels, but don’t be surprised if he competes for a major role by the middle of the season. There’s a reason Zach Wilson had so much time in the pocket for the Cougars, and Hoge had a massive part in that as the anchor for the BYU line.
Round 6 (No. 208 overall): Malcolm Koonce, EDGE, Buffalo
The school and position will raise eyebrows with a notable Buffalo Bull already on the roster by the name of Khalil Mack, but Koonce won’t live in the three-time All Pro’s shadows—he’s got a skill set of his own that should translate effortlessly to the pro game. A prototypical 3-4 outside linebacker, Koonce is about as good as it gets this late in the draft. He’ll add fresh legs to an EDGE room lacking exactly that.
Round 6 (No. 221 overall): Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan
An experienced athlete, Moore slides in nicely behind Charles Leno, who could mentor the former Bronco as his eventual replacement. With 32 career starts, Moore checks all the boxes on film as both an anchor in the pass game with fluidity and aggression in the run game. He has the tools to potentially start as a team’s left tackle for a long time.
Round 6 (No. 228 overall): Wyatt Hubert, EDGE, Kansas State
In this scenario, I envision Hubert working primarily with his hand in the dirt in Sean Desai’s 3-4 scheme. At 265 pounds, Hubert could look to add 10-15 pounds of play weight to handle the wear and tear of a 3-4 end. With Robertson-Harris now in Jacksonville, Bilal Nichols slides in as the starter but hasn’t produced to Nagy’s liking over the last couple of seasons. He also is a free agent following this season, and Hubert would be a welcomed addition opposite Akiem Hicks.