Chicago Bears 2020 NFL Draft Preview
This year’s National Football League Draft should be a welcome respite for a world with no sports. It will likely be great theater for sports fans everywhere, much less the teams with top ten picks, or the many teams with at least a chance to grab an impact player in Thursday night’s First Round. As for the Chicago Bears, it will be fun too, but the second guessing doesn’t begin until Friday night since the Bears still don’t have a First Round selection this year thanks to the Khalil Mack trade from 2018.
Here’s a 1st Round Mock Draft for the Top Ten Picks for the 2020 NFL Draft. We won’t go into much detail and won’t preview the entire 1st Round because that gets tedious, especially for the Bears fans.
- Cincinnati: Joe Burrow/QB/LSU
- Washington: Chase Young/DE/Ohio St.
- Detroit: Jeffrey Okudah/CB/Ohio St.
- New York Giants: Isaiah Simmons/LB/Clemson
- Miami: Tua Tagovailoa/QB/Alabama
- Los Angeles Chargers: Justin Herbert/QB/Oregon
- Carolina: Derrick Brown/DT/Auburn
- Arizona: Mekhi Becton/OT/Louisville
- Jacksonville: Javon Kinlaw/DT/South Carolina
- Cleveland: Jedrick Wills/OT/Alabama
Canton is Calling: Possible Hall of Famers
- Joe Burrow/QB/LSU – He’s got the perfect temperament. He has all the talent, training, and motivation to be one of the greats. Of course, he’s going to Cincinnati. Can he overcome that historical black hole of a franchise? Maybe that’s a perfect scenario for the Ohio native. He seems to thrive and prosper on all the doubters.
- Chase Young/DE/EDGE OLB/Ohio St. – Just as good as the Bosa brothers. All three could vie to become the next J.J. Watt. What’s in the water in Columbus? New Head Coach Ron Rivera will love setting a solid foundation in D.C. with this defensive stalwart.
- Derrick Brown/DT/Auburn – Everything I hear about this 6’4″ 320 pound behemoth is great. He has exceptional character. He looks like the next Ndamukong Suh or Fletcher Cox. If he lasts until the 7th pick, I think Carolina will nab him.
- Jonathan Taylor/RB/Wisconsin – Another person with fantastic character is Taylor. He burst onto the scene in Madison with explosive speed and power. I feel as if Taylor is still undervalued, underrated. He is usually listed as the third or fourth best running back in this draft behind J.K. Dobbins, DeAndre Swift, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Those guys are all great prospects, but c’mon now. He’s better than all of them. Barring injury, Taylor is going to the Hall after a long and productive career.
Other Hit Picks!
- Isaiah Simmons/LB/Clemson – An amazing physical specimen.
- CeeDee Lamb/WR/Oklahoma – Some of the best hands and the best run-after-catch ability in this year’s Draft. Lamb will be a star! NFL Comparison: DeAndre Hopkins
- Tee Higgins/WR/Clemson – The prototypical wide receiver with his size and speed.
- Clyde Edwards-Helaire/RB/LSU – Looks like Mark Ingram as far as body shape and ability. Like Ingram, he could have a solid decade plus career as an underrated weapon.
- Jacob Eason/QB/Washington – He gets knocked often but hasn’t had two years in a row in any place since high school. Once he gets more repetition and continuity with a solid NFL quarterback coach, the sky is the limit. I like Eason as this Draft’s 2nd or 3rd best prospect behind only Joe Burrow and maybe Justin Herbert. In fact, if I was Miami or San Diego at #5 or #6, I’d be almost 50/50 between Eason and Herbert right now.
- Darrell Taylor/EDGE/Tennessee – Taylor has quietly dominated in the SEC, if there is such a thing. At 6’3″ 259 pounds, Taylor has quick-twitch ability and has produced consistently over the last two seasons, earning 8.5 and 8.0 sacks. I’m excited to see what Taylor can do at the next level, as he enjoys watching and modeling himself after the Bears’ Mack.
Busts 😦 (Uhhh, Mom…Can I Have my Room Back?)
- Tua Tagovailoa/QB/Alabama/6’1″ 218 – Lots of hype, as well as mush, for Tua. He was helped tremendously by his surrounding talent, coaching, and system at Alabama. The only times he faced competition that was as good or better than his team, he struggled (See Clemson, LSU, and Georgia). Plus, he’s only 6’1″. Then there’s the medical history. Tua’s oversized lower legs and ankles have continuously been a problem for the Samoan lefty. One final thing, he’s a Southpaw. How many lefty QB’s are successful? Only two of twenty-six quarterbacks in the Pro Football Hall of Fame were lefties: Steve Young and Kenny “The Snake” Stabler. Other good ones I can think of were Michael Vick, Boomer Esiason, and Mark Brunell. Ok, so that’s one handful. Five guys. That’s not that many in the long and storied history of professional football. I think there’s a reason. It becomes a bizarro world for teammates. It’s like a reverse negative for teammates as well as coaches. Both offensive lineman and the receivers see the game differently. The ball spins the opposite way. It might be minor, or is it?
- Jalen Hurts/QB/Oklahoma – He’s not a professional quarterback. He loves scrambling but he doesn’t have enough in him to be a starting quarterback in the league. At best he would be lucky to have a career like Tyrod Taylor. It’s more likely he has a possible future as a Taysom Hill Swiss Army Knife style player. Perhaps, but that’s probably too high of a ceiling. I just don’t see Hurts succeeding.
- Jordan Love/QB/Utah St. – So much recent hype for a guy who threw 29 interceptions over 32 career starts at a low level program against low level competition. He did have one magical season in 2018, winning 11 of 13 starts with a 32-6 ratio and 64% completion percentage. However, in his other 19 career starts in 2017 and ’19, he completed under 60% with a 28-23 ratio and went 10-9 win/loss record. Plus, he has little to no running ability. Love will be a major bust as it looks like he’ll be a first rounder. Buyer beware!
- Brandon Aiyuk/WR/Arizona St. – Undisciplined route-runner who did well for one year at ASU largely based on ‘9’ pattern fly routes and some bubble screens. He’ll need to improve everything if he’s going to stick in the league. He does have big-play ability and may have a career as a return specialist if nothing else. Think of a player like Kenjon Barner, Jakeem Grant, Ameer Abdullah, or Tavon Austin. That’s Aiyuk’s NFL comparison: Tavon Austin.
Now let’s move on to Chicago’s selections this year. The Bears have seven total picks scattered from Rounds 2 through 7. We’re not going to speculate if General Manager Ryan Pace will trade picks. He has had a propensity to trade picks historically. Over his first five NFL Drafts, he’s traded pick for pick nine different times. Therefore, Pace may make more moves but for this exercise, we will assume he makes selections with all seven current opportunities. These seven overall selections are #43, #50, #163, #196, #200, #226, and #233.
I don’t see Pace picking a quarterback in this Draft because with high salaries and resources going to both Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky, I don’t see how Chicago dumps more into the position right now, especially when this draftee would be at best third on the depth chart and therefore wouldn’t even suit up for games as an active player. For now, Tyler Bray can be that third quarterback. If I were Pace, the only QB I’d even consider drafting would be Jacob Eason if he somehow slips to Pick #43 or 50. And even that is a long shot because then how do you move forward? Do you trade/waive Trubisky and groom Eason to be your QB if/when Nick Foles is incompetent, injured, or too old? I just don’t see this happening or working.
Round 2 (#43 Overall): Cole Kmet/TE/Notre Dame/6’6″ 255/NFL Comparison: Greg Olsen/TE/Seattle Seahawks via U. of Miami/6’5″ 255 OR Kyle Rudolph/TE/Minnesota Vikings via Notre Dame/6’6″ 265 – Like fellow Notre Damer Kyle Rudolph, who measured in at 259 pounds during Notre Dame’s 2011 predraft Pro Day, Cole Kmet could turn into an excellent two-way Tight End who can not only catch the football but also block effectively. The Bears haven’t had an excellent Tight End of this caliber since Greg Olsen, who was sent out of town by Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz during the dreadful summer of 2011. After playing the position as well as anyone in Chicago (2007-’10) since Mike Ditka redefined the Tight End position under “Papa Bear” George Halas in the 1960’s, the Bears management dumped the emerging, in-his-prime Olsen for a 3rd Round pick to Carolina. What a disastrous mistake. Still chugging along, Olsen continues his potential Hall of Fame career with Seattle in 2020.
Meanwhile, the Bears are eternally searching for a Tight End. (Don’t talk to me about Martellus Bennett (Bears TE 2013-’15), who was one of the most overrated, me-first, clubhouse cancer ballplayers of the last two decades.) When I think of Bears mismanagement since the 1980’s, this combination of dropping Olsen because of the Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz’s ‘no Tight End’ philosophy in the midst of his short two-year tenure (Bears OC 2010-’11), and then doubling up that mistake by grabbing the egocentric Bennett is usually my go-to first explanation.
Anyway, let’s move on and discuss Cole Kmet. This stud is a local kid from St. Viator High School in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He caught 43 passes for 515 yards and 6 touchdowns last year at Notre Dame in his Junior season. Now he’s the consensus top Tight End available in this Draft. The Bears need this kind of playmaker at Tight End, especially because Head Coach Matt Nagy’s offense thrives when Tight Ends are a big part of the equation. Look at Nagy’s background in Kansas City (Travis Kelce) and Philadelphia (Zach Ertz) to see how great TE’s have helped carry those offenses to Super Bowl Championships. Just because Chicago signed Jimmy Graham doesn’t mean the position is set in stone. Trey Burton was released, Adam Shaheen has been a bust thus far, and Graham is getting old. It’s time for the Bears to right past wrongs and spend a high draft pick on a position of need.
To me, the only important question with this philosophy is, will Cole Kmet last until Pick #43? If not, I propose GM Ryan Pace takes:
Harrison Bryant/TE/Florida Atlantic/6’5″ 242/NFL Comparison: George Kittle – Bryant was last year’s Mackey Award winner as the best Tight End in the nation from Florida Atlantic. Bryant wowed scouts at the Senior Bowl, comparing him to 49ers revelation George Kittle. The Bears drastically need a weapon like Kittle. According to Pro Football Focus, Bryant had the best week of any Tight End, showing great hands in traffic, especially in man-to-man coverage. In many ways, I think Bryant might be better than Kmet. His ceiling as a receiver is higher than Kmet while Kmet’s blocking ability might make him a better overall player than Bryant. Tough call here for GM Pace. If he gives either of these two Tight Ends a chance, I think he will be rewarded with a productive player to enhance Nagy’s scheme.
Round 2 (#50 Overall): Michael Pittman Jr./WR/USC/6’4″ 223/NFL Comparison: Michael Thomas/New Orleans – Michael Pittman is the son of the former NFL running back named Michael Pittman. It’s always positive to have pedigree and an experienced mentor. Like the 6’3″ 212 pound wide receiver with New Orleans, Michael Thomas, Pittman has a chance to break out in the NFL. He improved his production each of the last four years in college at USC, topping out with 101 catches for 1,275 yards and 11 TD’s last year. Pittman’s large frame and catch radius would be a great fit for Chicago’s offense, who haven’t had a big receiver like this since Brandon Marshall (6’5″ 232) and Alshon Jeffery (6’3″ 218) were dominant from 2012-’14 and 2012-’16, respectively. Pittman, along with Cole Kmet or Harrison Bryant, would be the big targets that the Bears offense has needed for years if they want to be a dynamic offense. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can’t judge a quarterback unless you give him some weapons and Trubisky has had few weapons to work with in his three seasons. Allen Robinson is good, maybe even really good, but outside of him, who do the Bears have to scare opposing defenses? Hopefully Pace follows my plan and gets some real weapons for Nagy’s arsenal.
Round 5 (#163 Overall): Lamar Jackson/CB/Nebraska/6’2″ 205/NFL Comparison: Jamel Dean/Tampa Bay – During this offseason, Chicago let go of starting cornerback Prince Amukamara. Several players have already been picked up to possibly start in his stead. However, it would probably be a wise decision to draft a young cornerback that has traits that fit well with your scheme. Bears Defensive Coordinator Chuck Pagano likes to use more press man coverage than his predecessor Vic Fangio. Lamar Jackson’s specialty is press man coverage, where he can get his long arms and physical frame up on receivers and shut them down with one-on-one coverage. Like his NFL comp, Jamel Dean (6’1″ 206) from the Buccaneers, Jackson is tall and physical. Having tall corners is important in a league where size rules. It’s hard to match up with 6’4″ receivers but Lamar gives you that chance. As a Nebraska fan, I’ve watched Jackson closely over the last four seasons. He improved dramatically as a Senior under Head Coach Scott Frost. Jackson had 15 PBU’s and 3 INT’s last season while usually covering his receiver in press man coverage. He thrives on these mano-a-mano matchups. I think Lamar Jackson has a chance to be a great DB in the NFL. Ironically, Jackson is from Nebraska, just like the Bears previous CB Prince Amukamara. Projected as a 3rd through 5th Round Pick, if Jackson lasts until the 5th Round he would be a fantastic fit for Pagano and the Bears.
Round 6 (#196 Overall): Ben Bredeson/OG/Michigan/6’5″ 315/NFL Comparison: Joe Thuney/New England/6’5″ 308 – We’ll head up north for our next selection, Ben Bredeson from Michigan. As a four year starter with the Wolverines, Bredeson showed skill, durability, and leadership. He was a two-time team captain and started 38 consecutive games over the last three seasons. He’s tough, big, and smart. Ben grew up in Hartland, WI and played at Arrowhead High School which is a Wisconsin powerhouse. Unfortunately for the Badgers, he left home and played for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Like the Patriots’ Joe Thuney, who has started 64 straight games over the last four seasons, Bredeson is a 6’5″ durable guard. Could the Bears use that? Most definitely. Will Bredeson be around in Round 6? It’s hard to say because I’ve seen scouts rate him all over their boards. He has been projected as high as a First Rounder but is usually listed as a 5th to 6th Round prospect.
Round 6 (#200 Overall): Jalen Elliott/S/Notre Dame/6’0″ 205/NFL Comparison: Micah Hyde/Buffalo – Elliott is more of a strong safety who would play in the box and defend against the run more than a traditional free safety. That’s okay with Chicago who needs to replace last year’s starter HaHa Clinton-Dix, who left in free agency. Who will start next to FS Eddie Jackson? It could be veteran Deon Bush, but the Bears might want to use a draft pick on another safety and see if he pans out. Jalen Elliott played for four years at Notre Dame and showed promise as a sure-tackling safety. He made 172 tackles and intercepted six passes over 51 games. Elliott surprised scouts at the Senior Bowl with a great week that included him answering some questions about his coverage skills as he dominated in one-on-one coverage drills against tight ends at the weeklong camp. The Bears need to grab another safety with aggressive, physical traits and Elliott fits the bill. Billed as a likely pick in Rounds 4, 5, or 6, if Elliott is available in Round 6, I think Ryan Pace should select him.
Round 7 (#226 Overall): Calvin Throckmorton/OT/Oregon/6’5″ 317 – The Bears lost last year’s swing tackle Cornelius Lucas to free agency. Lucas was valuable, starting eight games and playing in all 16 games last season. Lucas is now with the Washington Redskins and the Bears need to add compeition to their offensive line room. Are Pace, Nagy, and new Bears Offensive Line Coach Juan Castillo happy with the starting tackles Charles Leno and Bobby Massie? Even if they are satisfied for now with those two, it’s a good idea to add another OT to the mix. Calvin Throckmorton might be a solid choice. He has the size at 6’5″ and “mucho” versatility. Two years ago he started games at four of the five spots on the Oregon Ducks line. That’s rare. Nothing screams swing tackle more than that kind of versatility. Plus, he’s durable. Throckmorton started 52 games over the last four years at Oregon. Pick this young man and he might surprise and make the team as a 7th rounder.
Round 7 (#233 Overall): Kendrick Rogers/WR/Texas A&M/6’4″ 208 – In the 7th Round, teams are throwing darts at the wall and hoping something sticks. If you can even find a player that makes the roster, much less contributes, you’ve done something positive. In the Bears case, I think they need to continuously look to add weapons to this subpar offense. When you analyze the great teams around the NFL, they have multiple weapons all over the field. Chicago needs to keep adding size, speed, and talent to their Wide Receiver corps to increase competition and find genuine playmakers. Kendrick Rogers is one of these guys who might surprise some people. He’s 6’4″, long, lanky, and acrobatic. He left college early after flashing at times in the SEC. In a year with more Wide Receiver talent than ever before, that means some good players will be pushed down to the bottom of the draft. With his last selection, Pace should look at the available Receivers still remaining in the 7th Round. Pick a guy like Rogers, who if he stayed for his Senior year and produced at a high level in 2020, might have gone in the 2nd or 3rd round in next year’s 2021 Draft. Who knows, maybe Rogers will advance quickly and grow into a weapon which the Bears sorely need.
I feel confident in our Chicago Bears Draft analysis. If GM Ryan Pace adds talent at Tight End and Wide Receiver, this year’s draft will be a success no matter what else he might find. With no first round pick available, Pace is just trying to get a couple or three guys that make the team and show that they are legit NFL players. Why not go for a Tight End that can definitely make the team? Why not pick a Wide Receiver when the Bears likely have one of the poorest Receiving units in the NFL? I feel strongly that Chicago should take Cole Kmet or Harrison Bryant if one of those players is available. Either one of those Tight Ends will improve the Bears chances at success, not only in 2020 but in the future.
Hopefully the Bears agree with this diehard who has watched and analyzed this team faithfully for the last four years. Enjoy the Draft. Good luck and Godbless!
Reid “Dutch Lion”
- Special thanks to NFL.com, Pro Football Focus, Athlon’s NFL Draft 2020 Guide Magazine, and Lindy’s Pro Football Draft 2020 Magazine for their invaluable help.