The Bears discover themselves in a strong place heading into Week 6.
At 3-2 and coming off of a robust win on the street towards the Raiders, they’re within the thick of the playoff hunt early on within the season. Though they face a frightening schedule within the weeks to come back, the Bears seem to have constructed some momentum after successful their final two video games and may very well be in line to come back away with an upset or two earlier than their bye week.
That optimism apart, it’s clear the Bears are nonetheless a piece in progress.
Justin Fields serves as an amazing cornerstone to construct round going ahead, and there have been some younger items on either side of the ball who’ve performed very nicely in current weeks. There are some evident holes on the Bears’ roster, nevertheless, and with pretty restricted draft capital at this stage of the draft course of, administration must get inventive in making an attempt to improve the roster with younger expertise this coming offseason.
So, get inventive we will.
To present an early take a look at some intriguing prospects for the 2022 NFL Draft — in addition to to shine a lightweight on some potential wants the Bears may need this offseason — I made a decision to craft a 7-round mock draft. So a lot continues to be up within the air, such because the play of sure prospects down the stretch and the literal draft order itself. This train is extra simply to offer a pleasant foundation to go off of when our draft protection at WCG begins to ramp up within the subsequent few months.
Here are some early predictions as to what the Bears might do with their present draft capital within the 2022 NFL Draft.
Round 2: John Metchie III, WR, Alabama
6-foot, 195 kilos
Darnell Mooney is the one energetic roster huge receiver the Bears have beneath contract past this season. Needless to say, there’ll seemingly find yourself being some new faces of their receiver room subsequent yr.
Here’s what I wrote about John Metchie III after I previewed potential targets the Bears might have in Round 2 within the 2022 draft:
John Metchie leads Alabama in receptions as of this writing, and it’s no shock Bryce Young has come to depend on him typically this yr. The wideout is a artful route runner who does an ideal job of using totally different variations of releases off the road of scrimmage and has an acute understanding of how you can assault leverage factors in protection. He is explosive popping out of his breaks and has good deep pace to stretch the sphere vertically. With the ball in his fingers, he’s elusive and harder than one would count on for his measurement.
Many noticed Metchie as a primary-spherical expertise heading into the 2021 season, however the normal consensus has seen him slip slightly bit with the emergence of Alabama teammate Jameson Williams. That may very well be excellent news for no matter staff finally ends up drafting Metchie at a reduced worth, as he has the potential to be a top quality beginning receiver on the subsequent stage.
Round 3: Garrett Williams, CB, Syracuse
5-foot-11, 184 kilos
Jaylon Johnson’s rise from proficient rookie to reputable CB1 has been spectacular to observe this season, however the Bears have struggled on the cornerback place outdoors of him. Their protection has been excellent this yr, however an improve at nook would go a great distance in direction of enhancing their lengthy-time period outlook.
If you need an clever cornerback with a knack for disrupting performs, Garrett Williams is your man. The redshirt sophomore — who’s technically nonetheless a freshman due to added eligibility on account of COVID — had 2 interceptions and 9 move deflections in 2020 and has notched 6 break-ups in 5 video games to this point in 2021. His ball manufacturing is aided significantly by his instincts, as he has an acute understanding of route ideas and is ready to mirror the actions of receivers precisely. Williams is an excellent athlete with a versatile decrease half and the fluidity coming out and in of his breaks to stick with shifty receivers in protection.
Williams seemingly doesn’t have the scale or physicality to stay on the boundary, however with Johnson on the Bears’ roster, he wouldn’t must. The Syracuse standout’s recreation can be a robust complement to what Chicago at the moment has in place.
Round 5 (through Houston): Ricky Stromberg, C/OG, Arkansas
6-foot-4, 316 kilos
The Bears can be clever to scour the middle marketplace for an improve this offseason, whether or not that be in free company or the draft. Sam Mustipher has struggled to kick off the 2021 season, and given their lack of an inside alternative possibility, they may find yourself pursuing a middle after the season ends.
Drafting Ricky Stromberg would give the Bears a flexible blocker who might even step in at guard ought to James Daniels depart in free company, because the Arkansas blocker has beginning expertise in any respect three inside offensive line positions. He packs good uncooked energy into his body, showcasing a strong jab on the preliminary level of contact and providing the anchor power to forestall defenders from pushing the pocket. He generates leverage nicely together with his fingers and does a superb job of getting his weight beneath him and his pads low. Though not the quickest blocker in area, he does a superb job of rolling his hips by way of contact as a down blocker to seal off working lanes.
A normal lack of athletic upside might hinder Stromberg’s draft inventory a bit, as his lateral quickness and burst in a straight line seem underwhelming on tape. For a staff on the lookout for a refined heart prospect, although, he may very well be a participant price monitoring.
Round 5: Braxton Jones, OT, Southern Utah
6-foot-5, 303 kilos
The Bears have lots up within the air on the offensive sort out place, although their present beginning duo of Jason Peters and Germain Ifedi hasn’t been half dangerous most of this yr.
The aforementioned two tackles and Elijah Wilkinson all hit free company after the season, Teven Jenkins’ invoice of well being is a priority, and Larry Borom hasn’t confirmed sufficient within the common season to warrant deeming him a future starter but. It wouldn’t be stunning if the Bears took a sort out sooner than Round 5, however Braxton Jones continues to be a extremely slept-on expertise with sneaky beginning upside.
Jones broke onto my radar with sturdy performances towards San Jose State and Arizona State to kick off this season, however he has been dominating lengthy earlier than that. A 3-yr starter at Southern Utah, Jones packs severe bodily potential. He has prolonged limbs and an extended body that help him on the level of assault and whereas protecting floor as a vertical set move protector. Jones affords good higher-physique power on the level of assault and does a superb job of churning his legs to drive defenders again. He can also be an excellent lateral athlete for a sort out, as he bursts nicely in his kick slide and has the decrease-half flexion wanted to redirect and neutralize any inside cutbacks towards him. He accelerates nicely off the snap when climbing to the second stage, as nicely.
Aside from the apparent competitors issues, Jones’ inventory may very well be affected by his being a waist-bender on the level of assault and a skinnier body for an offensive lineman that may not maintain up in addition to it does within the FCS. A participant together with his upside is certainly price taking over a shot on as a developmental prospect, although.
Round 6: Verone McKinley III, S, Oregon
5-foot-11, 196 kilos
With simply 5 draft picks because it at the moment stands, it could be extremely troublesome for the Bears to deal with each one among their wants within the 2022 draft. However, contemplating how a lot Sean Desai has rotated safeties to this point this yr — in addition to the upcoming free company durations of Tashaun Gipson, Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson — it may be clever for Chicago to think about including extra depth to their secondary.
For a 3-yr starter on a Pac-12 powerhouse that has 8 interceptions in his final 25 video games, Verone McKinley III has fallen beneath the radar greater than he arguably ought to be in draft circles. He is a rangy security with fluid hips, nice straight-line pace and excellent explosiveness in his decrease half. Versatility is a serious calling card of his recreation, as he takes reps at Oregon in single-excessive shells — each up excessive and beneath — two-excessive shells, as a nickel cornerback or as a field defender. His route-recognition means permits him to frequently choose up route ideas and skim the eyes of the quarterback to interrupt on a route rapidly and make a play on the ball.
McKinley is a bit undersized, and that reveals in his recreation at instances. He doesn’t provide a lot physicality as a tackler, and he struggles on the catch level on account of an absence of high-notch play power. As a prospect as versatile and athletic as he’s on the again finish, nevertheless, the Bears can be clever to present him a shot ought to he be accessible late.