Trading Up for a Bears QB

The Bears traded up in Round 1 of the NFL Draft in 2017 to get Mitchell Trubisky, and in this final BearDigest mock draft they pulled off a trade up into the top part of the draft for another QB
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The final BearDigest.com mock draft, version 6.0, proved a disappointment overall due to the way it finished.

It faded away with an assortment of non-descript unneeded sixth-round picks when no trades up were reached to provide fourth- or fifth-round talent. All of this happened after an ideal trade to start.

In this version the Bears were able to trade up with the Miami Dolphins at No. 6 and the terms were not totally unrealistic. Miami took the No. 20 pick of the Bears, a first-rounder in 2022, a third-round pick in 2022 and a second-round pick in 2023. It cost the Bears no more picks from this draft beyond their first-round selection, so this was a huge benefit.

The entire field sat there for the Bears except for one thing.

This NFL Draft starts with the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3, as everyone knows. The hope with moving up was to draft Justin Fields but San Francisco took him. The Bears had the choice at No. 6 between Mac Jones and Trey Lance.

Lance displayed a big arm at his pro day. My problem with Lance is both the lack of evidence he can play against tougher competition and some real red flags from when he did play against all of Football Championship Series opponents.

It's often said he can succeed in the NFL because Carson Wentz did after coming from this school, but his passing statistics are not comparable in two huge ways. Against tougher teams at his level, Lance's production was insufficient. He had only one big passing game in the four playoff games in 2019, and in winning the title game he had six completions. He did it with his legs, with 181 yards rushing. 

Running is fine at a lower college level, and he averaged 13.4 yards on designed runs according to Pro Football Focus. This is good for his college team, not for the NFL. Designed quarterback runs on a scale he did in college won't work. This is an unrealistic model against bigger, faster, stronger.

The other thing that won't work in the NFL is a far more alarming stat. This is the fact that he completed only 44.1% of his passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage in 2019 and 2020, which is essentially his full college career. Pro Football Focus tracked this. He beat teams with passes thrown to receivers behind the line of scrimmage. The 44.1% figure is not only bad, it's atrocious. It's the worst of all qualifying college quarterbacks, according to PFF. In fact, it was 7.5 percentage points worse than the next worst.

That's a red flag, a barricade and a detour sign all in one.

The Bears do get a quarterback in the first round and the trade up left them waiting until the 52nd pick to get going again. With only three picks in the first 163, they are not getting sufficient impact players to fill all holes.

QB Mac Jones, Alabama

Round 1, No. 6

This is a quarterback Matt Nagy could love. He's cerebral. He actually reads defenses like Mitchell Trubisky could not. He makes anticipatory throws into tight windows like pro quarterbacks, unlike most of what Lance showed. Nagy could just love sitting and talking football with this quarterback who is an extension of a coach. He's not gifted like Fields would have been but he'll be a good NFL quarterback.

CB Elijah Molden, Washington

Round 2, No. 52 

Not to complain, but the cornerback need was to find an outside replacement for Kyle Fuller. Molden has no peers among slot cornerbacks in this draft. He is outstanding. And the Bears need a slot cornerback. But all of the top cornerbacks had been taken except Kelvin Joseph of Kentucky, who was ranked 67th on the Pro Football Focus big board then, and besides that he's been red-flagged for a past college suspension. There were no tackles available then graded close to the 52nd pick, although Teven Jenkins slipped all the way to No. 45 before being drafted. So it was the nation's best slot cornerback to replace Buster Skrine.

T Brady Christensen, BYU

Round 3, No. 83

The exact same thing happened in an earlier mock done to show what happens when the Bears reach for Davis Mills in Round 1 at No. 20. The same two players were the only ones available in the second and third rounds and were picked. Christensen was by far the best tackle available at this spot when selected. All others were long gone. Christensen is 23 years old already and is an athlete unlike many at left tackle. At his pro day, he had the longest broad jump ever recorded by a lineman at a pro day or combine, at 10 feet, 4 inches. It was a full 3 inches longer than the next best ever. He also benched 30 reps at 225, ran a 4.89-second 40-yard dash to equal what Tristan Wirfs did last year and ran the three-cone drill in 7.33 seconds. That broad jump was better than many wide receivers do. If all of this helps Zach Wilson's back-side blocker perform better as a run blocker, it will be fine. As a pass blocker, Christensen last year allowed the lowest QB pressure percentage in the last six college seasons.

WR Cornell Powell, Clemson

Round 5, No. 164

This is not what the Bears need at slot receiver but any receiver of value comparable to the draft slot was already teaken. Powell finally blossomed in his fifth Clemson season with 53 catches and 882 yards and a marvelous 16.6-yard average to go with seven touchdowns. Powell was a star at the Clemson pro day as Trevor Lawrence's receiver. He might actually be more of an X-receiver or Z-receiver than a slot, which is what the Bears need. He did run 4.47 in the 40, which wasn't bad, and has a 36 1/2-inch vertical as a 5-foot-11 1/2, 210-pound receiver.

TE Noah Gray, Duke

Round 6, No. 204

The Bears are looking for a U-tight end to replace Jimmy Graham in the future and play opposite Cole Kmet, the Y-tight end. You need ability to get downfield. Gray is one of the smallest tight ends in the draft at 6-3, 240, but he's also one of the fastest. Only Kyle Pitts (4.44) ran a faster 40 time at pro days than the 4.55 he posted. He made 105 catches for 948 yards and was a decent red-zone threat at eight touchdowns. Decent for a sixth-round pick.

S Chris Brown, Texas 

Round 6, No. 208

They can use a safety, but not this late and not him. He was the best available at this spot. He'd be more of a special teams contributor than potential starter, and this is what you get with players taken this late. He is undersized for a safety at 5-11, 187, with three interceptions and nine pass defenses to go with 93 career tackles. Not an especially adept open-field tackler but he's a very tenacious type.

RB Pooka Williams, Kansas

Round 6, No. 221

An option if Tarik Cohen hasn't yet fully recovered. He has blazing speed, comparable to Cohen at 4.37 in the pro day 40, and he has return ability which the Bears will need now without Cordarrelle Patterson. At 5-9 1/2, 170, he lacks the powerful frame of Cohen so there would be concern trying to run him much between tackles. He'l have to develop more in the passing game, too. He did produce in college, though, with 2,382 rushing yards on 415 carries for a 5.7-yard average. He also showed he could catch passes in 2018 and 2019 and had 66 career receptions, but his pass-blocking value would be zero.

Edge Patrick Jones II, Pitt

Round 6, No. 228

A very productive 6-5, 260-pound edge rusher who doesn't have some of the measurables from pro days that others had. He made 21 1/2 career sacks including 17 1/2 over the last two years. The Bears need would be for an interior defensive lineman more than an edge, but nothing of value could be found here on the interior.

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