The Chicago Bears will get some much-needed rest and recovery time during their bye in Week 10 after losing their last four games in a row. Now 3-6, the Bears will hit the reset button in an effort to salvage whatever chance they have at relevant December football.
But the reality is that it’s almost time for Bears fans to begin looking ahead to the 2022 NFL Draft. Even without a first-round pick in its arsenal, Chicago has a big opportunity this offseason to make a significant jump up the NFC if they can surround quarterback Justin Fields with a stronger supporting class. Free agency will be the Bears’ first opportunity to inject more talent into the roster, but championship teams have always been built through the draft. And that’s why it’s time to run a mock draft.
Admit it: you’re fired up to read a Bears mock draft.
First, a disclaimer. This mock draft is a simulation conducted by The Draft Network’s Mock Draft Machine. It’s the best mock simulator in the land because of the depth of analysis and the quality scouting that goes into both the player rankings and the fluid team needs. You can run your own mock draft simulation here.
Now, the results. Remember: the Bears only have a handful of picks in the 2022 draft, and this mock draft ran through their first four selections.
Round 2, Pick 42: John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
Metchie III began the 2022 season in the mix to be one of the first wide receivers picked next April, and while his stock has cooled a bit this season, he still profiles as a top-50 selection—as was the case in this simulation. He’d be a fantastic pick for a Bears team that’s going to be in the market for a wide receiver. Only Darnell Mooney is a sure thing to return to the team in 2022, so expect Chicago to use one of its first two picks on the position.
Former TDN and current ESPN analyst Jordan Reid projected Metchie III as a No. 1 option in an NFL passing attack in his preseason assessment of his game, and he’s done nothing this season to suggest that projection’s changed. He has a career-high 61 catches so far in 2021 and while his yards per catch have dropped from 16.7 to 11 this year, he’s tracking to set a new high watermark in touchdown catches. He’s a well-built 6-foot, 200-pound (estimate) player who’d instantly challenge for a starting job with the Bears as a rookie.
Round 3, Pick 73: Jaxson Kirkland, OT, Washington
The thought process behind this pick, even if it’s artificial intelligence, is sound. The Bears need to upgrade the talent on the offensive line, and with the offensive tackle position still in flux with Teven Jenkins’ back injury, adding a player like Kirkland in the third round is sound football strategy.
Here’s what TDN scout Drae Harris had to say about Kirkland at the start of the 2021 college football season:
“Kirkland is a talented offensive lineman who bends very well and plays with very good technique and hand placement. He’s smooth and fluid in his pass set and demonstrates the lateral agility and reactive quickness to redirect laterally. I’d like to see him continue to improve his overall strength and get a little stronger punch, but his versatility, length, and technique should warrant him having his name called early in the draft.”
The Bears appear to have hit on Larry Borom in the fifth round, and Jenkins will be given every opportunity to be the team’s long-term answer at left tackle. But this team can’t assume either player is a sure thing. The more offensive tackles the Bears add to the roster, the better the chances they’ll actually have a quality starter emerge.
Round 5, Pick 153: Emil Ekiyor, iOL, Alabama
The interior of Chicago’s offensive line will be a big focal point of the offseason, especially at center. Ekiyor has the ability to play either guard or center, and it’s that kind of positional versatility that will help his draft stock and make him an appealing fit for the Bears on Day 3. The odds of landing an impact starter drop with each passing round, but the current front office has done a nice job finding quality contributors in this range of the draft. Ekiyor is the kind of player who could keep that streak going.
Round 6, Pick 189: Xavier Thomas, EDGE, Clemson
At this point in the draft, adding a player with pass-rushing upside is a big win. Remember: Thomas was at one point considered a first-round prospect and appeared in the first round of some ‘way-too-early mock drafts’ shortly after the 2021 NFL draft concluded. His stock has obviously dipped since then despite a career-high 4.5 sacks for Clemson so far this season.
The Bears could soon experience a changing of the guard at edge rusher, so investing in the position late in the 2022 draft makes sense.