Despite making some signings via free agency, Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles prioritizes the draft. Here is our latest mock draft after some initial free-agent signings.
A couple of weeks passed since the NFL league year, and along with it, free agency began. Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles made some signings, but not many, if any, will make a big impact on the offense.
The prevailing thought was that Poles would sign multiple players on both the offensive line and at wide receiver to help in quarterback Justin Fields‘ development. The 2022 season should be all about helping Fields take that step up in his second season.
Well, Poles has gotten mixed results on his signings so far. He hasn’t signed impact players. He said he’d avoid overspending on free agents, but he’s gone on the other side of the pendulum. He searched for bargain-basement deals. He found a lot of sixth-round or undrafted rookies with chips on their shoulders. That is all well and good, but the team also needs top-notch players in order to win.
It appears that Poles is putting all of his eggs into the 2023 basket. He has about $128 million in cap space and he’s trying to add draft picks.
That is where Poles wants to build — the draft. He currently has just six picks but is looking to add more. His latest signing, quarterback Trevor Siemien, signals that Poles is ready to deal Nick Foles for more draft picks. There might be other trades in the works for picks.
We’ll see what Poles does in terms of trades. For now, however, we’ll look at the six picks he has for this mock. Here is our latest for the Chicago Bears.
Round 2, #39 Overall — George Pickens, Wide Receiver, Georgia
This draft is deep in the wide receiver spot. George Pickens normally would be a sure-fire first-round pick. In this draft, however, there are a lot of prospects NFL teams could go after who don’t have the injury concern. He suffered a torn ACL last season. Granted, he made an incredible comeback to play late in the season, but there are far too many very good prospects without injuries that other teams likely go after. That could turn out to be to the Bears’ advantage.
Pickens is the number one receiver that the Bears desperately need. They have Darnell Mooney, who had over 1,000 receiving yards last season. However, he isn’t a true number one. He was the number one option in Matt Nagy’s struggling offense. That’s not to say he isn’t great for the Bears. He is, but the offense needs the big dog with the length to make plays. Pickens is that guy.
Pickens made an impact on Georgia football as soon as he stepped onto the field as a freshman. He has incredible hands and leaps to grab the ball at its highest point, Additionally, he does a great job of holding onto the ball on passes outside his body and in traffic.
In addition to Mooney, the Bears have Daz Newsome, Equamineous St. Brown, and Bryon Pringle. Pickens comes in and takes over as the number one and gives the other receivers a chance to settle in without having to play over their heads.
Round 2, #48 Overall — Tyler Smith, Offensive Tackle, Tulsa
One disappointing aspect of Poles’ start to free agency is how he handled the offensive line. He said that the unit was a priority. However, he hasn’t done much of anything to solidify it. Yes, he signed Lucas Patrick and he might do a good job. The thing is we don’t really know because he hasn’t played an entire season as a starting center. He filled in because of injury.
Furthermore, Poles signed Dakota Dozier as depth. How much depth can you get from a lineman who spent most of the 2021 season on the practice squad and when he did play he only played on special teams? That came off a season in which he started every game and played every snap. He gave up 46 pressures, 6 sacks, and committed 9 penalties. Did Poles think Nagy was still coaching?
Tyler Smith can be the bodyguard that Fields needs. Poles wanted to add toughness and nastiness to the line? Well, Smith brings that. He wants to bury whoever wants to get to his quarterback. He is big, wide, and nasty.
Smith is powerful at the point of attack. He has great lateral movement and leg strength to move defenders out of the gap.
Smith can compete with Teven Jenkins for the left tackle position. The Bears have yet to fill James Daniels‘ right guard spot. If Smith beats out Jenkins, Jenkins can move to right tackle and Larry Borom slides over to right guard. That gives the Bears an improvement to the offensive line and makes Fields happy.
Round 3, #71 Overall — Coby Bryant, Cornerback, Cincinnati
Another position of need for the Chicago Bears is cornerback. Chicago cut former All-Pro Kyler Fuller and it seemed that the move hurt both parties. The Bears ended up with Jaylon Johnson as their only dependable corner and a lot of quarterbacks went away from him.
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The Bears need a corner who plays on the opposite of Johnson. That player needs to force quarterbacks to try to go to Johnson more often. Coby Bryant is that player.
At 6-foot-1, 193 pounds, Bryant has the body you want in a cornerback. He was a four-year starter with Cincinnati so he brings experience and a high football IQ as well.
Bryant has great instincts and awareness and finds the ball. He tracks the ball like a wide receiver does. In his college career he had 10 interceptions.
Pairing Bryant and Johnson gives the Chicago Bears a tough, young cornerback duo who can cause trouble for opposing offenses.
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Round 5, #148 Overall — Brian Asamoah, Linebacker, Oklahoma
With the Chicago Bears now moving to a 4-3 base defensive scheme, they need some linebackers. They signed Nicholas Morrow, but as with most of the other signings, he is an unknown.
Brian Asamoah is the type of player Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus want on the roster. He is a high motor guy who is on throughout the game. He won’t take any snaps off. Asamoah is the see-ball, go-to-ball player the Bears covet.
Asamoah is able to read and react to plays early. He can diagnose the play and get to the ball quickly. Additionally, he is able to read misdirections quickly. He has good chase speed and does a good job of running sideline to sideline. In coverage his movement is easy and he is athletic.
In addition to defense, Asamoah could be a very good kick and punt cover player on special teams.
Asamoah gives the Bears added depth and flexibility.
Round 5, #150 Overall — Nick Cross, Safety, Maryland
Here we go with another prospect who adds to the toughness factor for the Chicago Bears. Nick Cross plays with high intensity and makes big hits. He wants to make sure you know as an opponent that you’re in for a tough game against him.
Cross plays the role of the enforcer in the middle of the field. The Bears had trouble with bad tackling last year. Cross helps change that. He is a very good tackler, especially in the open field. With him in the box, Eddie Jackson can roam around and make plays again.
Cross has good focus and tracks the ball well. He is comfortable in coverage and plays downhill.
Cross epitomizes what a Chicago Bears defensive player is. He is tough, he hits hard, and he makes big plays. He’d be a good complement with Jackson.
Round 6, #186 Overall — Matt Araiza
One controversial move Poles made was to allow punter Pat O’Donnell to leave. In addition to punt duties, O’Donnell was Cairo Santos‘ holder. O’Donnell and Santos worked together to break the team record for most field goals made consecutively.
Now O’Donnell is with the hated Green Bay Packers.
Seeing as there are slim pickings for punters through free agency, Poles needs to use one of his draft picks on one. Matt Araiza is a good one to pick up.
When a punter earns the nickname “Punt God” you have to go after him Araiza has the ability to flip the field. In 2021, he had 18 punts go for 60 or more yards. Two of those punts went for over 80 yards. He led the nation by averaging almost 50 net yards per open-field punt. Open-field punts are those made between your goal line and your 40-yard line.
Araiza likes to go with the long kick over hangtime. He booms his kick with low angles so sometimes the coverage doesn’t get there. Coaches at the next level will try to help him adjust so he could boom the kick and give it enough hang so the coverage can get there and make plays.
While O’Donnell did a good job of being a holder, his punts were about average. He did make some big punts, though. With Araiza, however, the Bears could see big punts nearly every time he is on the field.
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