Although the 2020 NFL Draft begins tomorrow night, Bears fans will have to wait an extra day to see their team on the clock.
Currently, general manager Ryan Pace’s first two picks are in the second round at 43 and 50. And those are, right now, his only picks on Day 2 of the draft. The next time the Bears will be on the clock is in the fifth round, when Chicago is projected to pick at No. 163.
To change things up a bit for this final mock draft, I decided to make … a trade.
The Athletic’s Bears writer and friend of the Chicago Audible Adam Jahns published an article last week that detailed some potential trade back options for the Bears. In the piece he wrote, “The Seahawks get No. 50 and select a tight end or receiver. The Bears get Nos. 59, 133 and a 2021 fourth-rounder.”
In addition to using Jahns’ projected trade, I also used two articles from The Athletic’s Dane Brugler. I made my picks based off of Brugler’s 2020 NFL draft guide, aka “The Beast,” and his top-300 draft board.
With the basis of my mock draft 3.0 set, it’s time to see what players I selected. If you would like to listen to the podcast version of my final mock draft, here it is (also included is Will DeWitt’s picks).
Round 2, Pick 43: Penn State WR K.J. Hamler (5-9, 178)
2019 Stats: 13 G, 56 REC, 904 YDS, 8 TD / 13 RUSH, 43 YDS
The Bears desperately need to add speed to their offense, and that’s exactly why I have Hamler being selected at No. 43.
Even though he didn’t run the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine due to an injury, his game tape shows an elite athlete that possesses explosive speed. And he uses that speed to create big plays, like this 93-yard touchdown against Ohio State in 2018.
Hamler also tracks the ball well when it’s in the air and consistently creates separation from defensive backs.
The former Nittany Lion did play primarily in the slot in his two seasons at Penn State, but Bears head coach Matt Nagy can find ways to use him effectively as the “Z” receiver as well as the “Zebra.” Nagy’s offense is known for using a lot of 3×1 formations, so Hamler would have plenty of opportunities to make plays in the open field.
Last season, the Bears ranked last in explosive plays, but adding a player like Hamler, who averaged 16.9 yards per catch, would significantly improve the offense’s chances of improving in that category.
Round 2, Pick 59: Georgia QB Jake Fromm (6-2, 219)
2019 Stats: 14 G, 60.8 CP%, 2,860 YDS, 24 TD, 5 INT
I know some people will stop reading my mock draft as soon as they see Fromm as my 59th pick. Here is the thing, the Bears realistically could be without Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles when the 2021 season begins, so why not draft a quarterback who can sit and learn the offense?
Fromm has all the tools to succeed in this Bears’ offense. He is a good leader, has high football IQ, shows poise in the pocket, gets through his reads, is accurate and protects the football. In three seasons as the starter for the Bulldogs, Fromm threw 78 touchdowns to 18 interceptions.
This play from Fromm’s last game as a Bulldog against Baylor encapsulates all his best attributes. With a free blitzer coming off the left edge, Fromm has to get rid of the ball quickly. He knows he has one-on-one coverage on the outside, and he effortlessly throws an over-the-shoulder pass to his receiver for a touchdown.
We have all come to the realization that it’s not smart to believe what Pace says, but he did tell reporters on Tuesday that football intelligence is “an emphasis” and that he may be “even more mindful of that [football intelligence] this year.”
One of Fromm’s greatest strengths is his mental processing and understanding of defenses, which is also Trubisky’s greatest weaknesses.
In addition to learning Nagy’s offense after a year of sitting, he would also be reacquainted with Javon Wims and Riley Ridley, who were some of his favorite wide receivers from his time at Georgia.
When you assess what Nagy values in a quarterback to run his system and compare that with Fromm’s strengths, it just seems more realistic that the former Georgia Bulldog will be in play for the Bears.
This may be going out on a limb, but I also believe Pace is going to have a hard time passing up on Fromm because of the comparisons to Drew Brees. I’m not saying Fromm will go on to have a Hall-of-Fame career, but the football IQ, leadership and accuracy are the corresponding traits that link the two quarterbacks.
(If you want to read more about Fromm, here is an in-depth article I wrote in the beginning of March.)
Round 4, Pick 133: LSU G Damien Lewis (6-2, 327)
Since I began researching potential prospects for this year’s draft, Lewis was always one of my favorites, and it all started with the physicality that he plays with on each snap.
Coming out of high school as a no-star recruit, you can tell Lewis has a chip on his shoulder. When LSU ran the football, Lewis made sure that opposing nose tackles were moved out of his gap. And when Lewis wasn’t engaged with a defensive lineman, he was consistently looking for work.
The Bears need someone at the right guard position who has some nastiness to him. Lewis is that guy.
On this play, Lewis shoves the nose tackle into the two other Ole Miss linemen and that causes all three of them to fall to the ground. Joe Burrow then has plenty of time to complete the touchdown pass to Justin Jefferson.
It’s important that the Bears find a guard in this draft that can be a starter from Day 1. Foles isn’t mobile and the Bears’ run game needs to substantially improve.
Although Germain Ifedi was signed in free agency and Pace still likes what he sees from Rashaad Coward, it would benefit to find a better option, and Lewis would be a great alternative for offensive line coach Juan Castillo to mold into a starter.
Round 5, Pick 163: Purdue TE Brycen Hopkins (6-4, 245)
2019 Stats: 61 REC, 830 YDS, 7 TDS
Like Lewis, Hopkins has always been one of my favorite prospects since the beginning. He was actually the first player I watched tape on, and I was fortunate enough to interview him at the Senior Bowl and ask him some questions at the NFL Combine.
But outside my own personal encounters with him, Hopkins would be a nice addition to the Bears’ crowded tight end room. He is a receiving threat and is capable of making big plays down the middle of the field. With 4.66 speed and at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, he is too fast for linebackers and is a mismatch for safeties.
Take this 72-yard touchdown against Indiana for example. Hopkins lines up in the slot and the linebacker is covering him. Hopkins attacks the linebacker’s outside shoulder, then bends his route inside and breaks away for an easy score.
Purdue liked to play Hopkins in a variety of different spots (in the slot, in-line, out wide), and the same would happen if he was drafted by the Bears.
Right now, there are nine tight ends currently on the Bears’ roster, but none are proven players other than Jimmy Graham, who I am not fairly confident in because of his age. Tight end is such an important position in Nagy’s offense, and Hopkins has the potential to grow into that middle-field threat that the offense is currently lacking.
(If you want to read more about Hopkins, here is an in-depth article that I wrote in March.)
Round 6, Pick 196: Utah S Julian Blackmon (6-0, 187)
2019 Stats: 60 TKLS, 1.5 SACK, 2 FF, 8 PD, 4 INT
It only took me 196 picks to finally address the defense, but I went with Blackmon as my first guy.
In Blackmon’s first two seasons at Utah, he actually started as a cornerback and led the team in passes defended each season: 10 PD in 2017 and 11 PD in 2018. In his senior season, he transitioned to strong safety.
Despite the position being new to him, Blackmon still made plenty of impact plays for the Utes’ defense. He had four interceptions, which was tied for the most in the Pac-12, and added eight passes defended.
He plays fast, can identify offensive plays and does a decent job of mirroring opposing receivers and tight ends. What stood out to me was the physicality and speed that he showed in his first season as a strong safety.
Look at Blackmon completely annihilate this Oregon receiver who catches the ball after coming in motion.
As a late-round draft pick, I like the potential upside that Blackmon has as a strong safety. If he adds some more weight and, like any other player, gets put in the right situation, he may become a starter in this league.
Round 6, Pick 200: Southern Illinois CB Madre Harper (6-2, 196)
2019 Stats: 42 TKLS, 14 PD, 2 INT
Rightfully so, everyone was impressed with how SIU safety Jeremy Chinn performed at the NFL Scouting Combine. I had Chinn in my first mock draft and DeWitt selected him in his second. Nobody, though, is talking about his teammate Harper.
He started his college career at Oklahoma State, but he was dismissed at the start of his sophomore year because he violated team rules.
While playing in the same secondary as Chinn, Harper led the Salukis with 14 passes defended and added two interceptions last season. It also wasn’t uncommon to see him playing at both right and left corner. Regardless of the side he played on, he showed the ability to stay with receivers.
And he has an aggressive mentality to him. When there is an opportunity for him to deliver a big blow, Harper is going to capitalize on that moment.
Check out this big hit he puts on the NDSU receiver after he makes the catch and tries to turn upfield.
In Brugler’s “The Beast,” he wrote that Harper is “one of the draft’s most intriguing sleepers.”
At pick 200, obviously none of these late-round guys are guaranteed to even make the roster. So, I thought it would be the most beneficial to select a player that has plenty of upside.
Round 7, Pick 226: Miami (FLa.) EDGE Trevon Hill (6-3, 248)
2019 Stats: 27 TKLS, 4.5 SACK, 1 PD
Arguably, this may be my most controversial pick. I know it’s the seventh round, but Hill is someone that is the polar opposite of what Pace usually looks for in players.
Hill has had some off-the-field issues, dating back to his high school days. After he committed to Virginia Tech, Hill was dismissed from the team during his junior year as well.
At Miami, he was able to stay with the program. He did show some good pass-rushing reps, but they just weren’t consistent. Hill also didn’t display much versatility in terms of moves to get to the quarterback.
He did, however, demonstrate that he can rush the quarterback from different stances, lining up in a two- and three-point stance throughout games. He also, at times, shows some nice discipline.
Here versus Florida, he doesn’t over commit to the quarterback and is able to stay with the running back, making the running back uncomfortable, which results in a fumble.
Back to Brugler’s “The Beast,” he writes that “Hill flashed high-level pass rush potential during his time in college, but consistency and discipline (both on and off the field) have held him back, projecting as a low-risk, high-reward lottery ticket in the later rounds.”
Given Hill’s past mistakes, it would be interesting if Pace would even consider him in the first place.
Round 7, Pick 233: Memphis RB Patrick Taylor (6-1, 217)
2019 Stats: 78 CAR, 350 YDS, 5 TD / 8 REC, 52 YDS
For those of you who have made it this far, congratulations.
To end my final mock draft of the year, I have the Bears selecting a running back. Taylor is a physical, downhill runner, which is the type of back that is currently missing on the roster.
Taylor had to share a backfield with Darrell Henderson and Tony Pollard, but still, he had a productive junior season: 208 carries, 1,122 yards and 16 TDs rushing, and he added 17 receptions for 197 yards and one receiving TD.
He does tend to run a bit high, but when he lowers the pads, he is able to run through defenders. This play against Ole Miss shows exactly what Taylor brings to the running back position. Taylor should be tackled for a loss, but he uses a violent stiff arm to shove the defender to the ground and picks up a couple of yards.
Just watching his film, he reminded me a little bit of Jordan Howard but just more athletic, given that Taylor can be a threat in the slot and on the outside as a receiver.
I don’t believe running back is the biggest need on this team, but Pace was looking to add a running back last season when he drafted Kerrith Whyte and signed Mike Davis. Who knows, maybe Pace will continue his search for another running back in the next coming days.