Joey Ricotta | May 3rd, 2020
As if Chicago Bears fans didn’t know what was going to happen. Ryan Pace hinted at drafting a tight end, and once again traded up instead of down. Meanwhile, I’m not sure I know what’s left from right during this quarantine. We all want to watch sports and are desperately grasping at straws to find any live-action.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team drafts reviews here.
The NFL Draft was the closest thing to a live game not named The Last Dance. And while that’s about another Chicago team I hold dear to my heart, it sounds more like Dancing with the Stars than a live sporting event. And the soap opera vibe of the whole thing kinda proves my point. Don’t get me wrong, I love it so far. Anyway, where were we? Oh, right, the NFL Draft. Let’s take a look at what the Chicago football team did in the present time (somewhat) and hand out some very early grades for those selections.
Round 2, Pick 43 Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame
Originally, I was not a fan of this pick. But after a day to sit and evaluate, it grew on me. Regarded by most as the unquestioned number one tight end in the draft, Kmet presents a lot of matchup problems with his size, speed, and jumping ability. He ranked first at the combine in vertical jump and weight, second in height, tied for second in the broad jump, and fourth in 40-yard dash time for the position. Being a Notre Dame fan, I was able to watch quite a bit of him in college. He never really produced the way you would expect the first tight end taken off the board to produce. However, when I went back and rewatched the tape after the draft, there were many areas of his game that stood out to me.
He’s difficult to bring down, has experience lining up all over the field in many different alignments and packages, and is good at high pointing the ball and making contested catches. The part of his game that receives the most criticism is his blocking ability, which, honestly, isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. He doesn’t wow you or pancake defenders, but he’s solid for the most part. The route running is okay, however, he was used in a lot of seams or flat routes, which aren’t overly complicated. I like how he works back to the QB and ball when plays get extended. Clearly, head coach Matt Nagy is persistent and will stop at nothing to find a talented tight end that fits his scheme. I thought the Bears could’ve picked a better, more NFL ready player at this point in the draft. But who’s to argue if he turns out to be a complete stud? Gotta root for the local kid.
Full scouting report here.
ROUND 2, PICK 50 CB Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
By many draft analysts and scouts, Johnson was considered a first-round quality prospect. The fact the Bears were able to grab him later in the second round, has to be looked at as a steal. His stock might’ve dropped a little due to a torn right labrum, which he played the entire 2019 college football season through. He had surgery after the combine but says he’s ahead of schedule. The Bears needed to address cornerback after cutting ties with Prince Amukamara.
NFL Network’s Steve Wyche asked Johnson which NFL receiver he most would like to face. Johnson responded by saying, Davante Adams. Um, hello…welcome to Chicago. You’ll be able to do that twice a year as long as Kyle Fuller lets you. If playing through injury and still being productive isn’t a sign of his toughness, I don’t know what is. Additionally, he puts himself in good positions on the field, has great instincts and a high football IQ. Johnson plays physical, displays good ball skills, and disrupts timing on plenty of routes. This is a terrific pick in terms of value, need, and potential.
Full scouting report here.
*TRADE* Bears trade a 2021 fourth-round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for Pick 155.
Round 5, Pick 155 Trevis Gipson, EDGE, Tulsa
Gipson was a bit of a surprise pick because the Bears traded up to take an edge rusher. A position not considered a dire need after the free-agent acquisition of Robert Quinn. However, Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn can’t play every down. Getting a solid rotational piece and potential pass-rusher for the future is never a bad idea. Gipson had 15 tackles-for-loss and eight sacks for Tulsa last season.
He’s toolsy and pretty raw, but what better way to learn than beside Mack and Quinn? By all accounts, he has a high motor. The length is something the Bears and scout Breck Ackley really had their eyes on. With nearly 34-inch arms, Gipson has plenty of length to be able to work with and build upon as he works on getting better technique. It sounds like the Bears fell in love with Gipson at the Senior Bowl, with the game and the practices leading up to it. The reason for the B- tag on this selection, edge wasn’t a primary need and they traded up to get one. That being said, he won’t face the same pressures to succeed that Leonard Floyd did being such a high draft pick, and you can never have too many edge rushers.
Round 5, Pick 163 Kindle Vildor, CB, Georgia Southern
Quick joke: a kindle is something used to read books from. A Kindle Vildor is someone who is good at reading quarterbacks. He is an underrated CB with skills that translate well as a good nickel corner at the pro level. Vildor has a tendency to be late at turning his head around to the ball, which could lead to issues with pass interference penalties. However, he’s very sticky with good coverage, while maintaining very good ball skills. The knock on Vildor is his tackling, which is apparent when watching his tape.
Many times, he looked tentative before engaging and there are some bad missed tackles on film. Vildor is good at meeting receivers quickly and is capable of putting big hits on them, but has some trouble with ball carriers in space with time. His tentative moments, only seem to come when tackling. He’s not afraid to put his paws on receivers, especially up close to the line. Overall, I like the pick, because I see the upside in Vildor and what he could be. This is a very good value in the fifth round.
*TRADE* Bears trade picks 196, 200, and 233 to the Eagles for picks 173 and 227.
Round 5, Pick 173 Darnell Mooney, WR, Tulane
I absolutely love this pick. I don’t even mind the trade up. The Bears addressed their need for a speedy outside wide receiver, who can be utilized in the slot as well. Mooney ran a 4.38 40-yard dash. That’ll definitely take the top off a defense. He’s a bit undersized, standing at only 5’10”, but he’s an exceptional route runner with a quick release at the line of scrimmage. Coach Matt Nagy has been searching for a speed demon threat that he can use similarly to Tyreek Hill, and he may have found him.
He won’t be handed the keys to the number two outside wideout position right out of the gate. Newly acquired Ted Ginn figures to have the job. But he’ll certainly compete with Javon Wims and Riley Ridley for a roster spot. My guess is, Wims is the odd man out, being that last year was Ridley’s rookie season and he was hurt most of the year. Look for Mooney to learn under Ginn’s tutelage and make an early impact in special packages.
Full scouting report here.
Round 7, Pick 226 Arlington Hambright, OL, Colorado
“Ham” played left tackle primarily in college at Oklahoma State and Colorado. But Ryan Pace and the Bears view him as a guard or having the capability to translate well as a guard. He’s a bit undersized for a tackle at the pro level, so playing guard makes the most sense. Hambright only allowed one sack last season at Colorado. Scouts like his ability to bend and pull in space, athleticism, and first step. He’s a very good athlete with room to grow as far as hand use and technique. Probably would not have been my first pick with who was left on the board, but it’s a seventh-rounder with room to grow.
Round 7, Pick 227 Lachavious Simmons, OL, Tennessee State
First came the Ham, then came the Pig…. or something like that. Simmons’ grandmother gave him the nickname “Pig” because he liked to eat a lot and grew up on a farm, where he would throw around bales of hay. Taking a shot with a second offensive lineman in back-to-back picks, it’s clear Ryan Pace is content attempting to improve the line with project pieces. Simmons is a tackle or guard by trade and uses his strength and viciousness to drive opponents to the ground, almost regularly. From the tape, it looks like he mainly played left guard at Tennessee State. “I’m a bloody your nose type of guy on the field,” said Simmons. He’s shown great ability as a run-blocker and has a lot of length, which gives him a high ceiling.
I think Kmet will be a good fit as a “Y” tight end in the Bears offense. Johnson looks like the real deal and could be an immediate and long-term starter in the Bears’ secondary. The fifth-round picks all have a little something that makes their future look bright. I firmly believe one of those three fifth-rounders will become a stud. My money is on Mooney! I think the other two (Gipson and Vildor) will have serviceable careers. The Bears addressed the O-line in the final round, selecting linemen with consecutive picks. Quick reminder, the Bears current starting left tackle Charles Leno Jr. was a seventh-round pick, number 246 overall in 2014. I wish they would’ve taken a lineman earlier in the draft, however, Bears fans have witnessed first hand that a late-round lineman can develop into a starter. I wasn’t fond of the Kmet pick at first, but as I said, it grew on me, and so did the rest of the draft.
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