It’s officially April and that means every which way you look, a new mock draft is bound to pop up. With the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft set for April 29, we’ll take a look at possible Chicago Bears draft targets at No. 20 overall. Because they sent two first rounders to the Raiders for Khalil Mack, 2021 marks the first time the Bears will pick in the first round since drafting Roquan Smith eighth overall in 2018.
Bears Draft Targets in the First Round
Mac Jones, QB
Obviously the Bears didn’t answer their franchise-old question at quarterback with the signing of Andy Dalton last month, but the veteran does provide some flexibility in terms of drafting and developing a young player. Once the 49ers traded up to No. 3, it became all but guaranteed the first three picks of the draft will be spent on QBs. Trevor Lawrence is locked in for first, but it is possible that Mac Jones drops out of the top three.
Jones was a one-year starter at Alabama, completing 77.4 percent of his passes for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns and just four interceptions en route to a National Championship and top-three finish in the Heisman Trophy voting. The chances of Jones falling to the 20th pick sit somewhere between slim and none, but Bears General Manager Ryan Pace has shown his affinity for trading up to obtain a player he deems as a fit for the club.
Other QB Options
More than likely, the Bears will be forced to settle for a day two prospect in either Florida’s Kyle Trask, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond or Stanford’s Davis Mills. With four six round picks it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bears try to draft two quarterbacks in a project like Texas’s Sam Ehlinger or SMU’s Shane Buechele.
Christian Darrisaw, OT
Okay, so QB is likely off the board in the first round. Still, the offense clearly needs work and, as shown in 2020, it doesn’t matter who’s under center if you can’t protect him. Charles Leno Jr., a steady if unspectacular player, is penciled in at left tackle and right tackle is up for grabs after re-signing Germain Ifedi — who was solid in that role down the stretch last season — and adding swingman Elijah Wilkinson from the Broncos.
With the interior of the offensive line likely set between James Daniels, Sam Mustipher and Cody Whitehair, the tackle spot is a probable, if not sexy, pick for the Bears. That list starts with Virginia Tech’s Christian Darrisaw, a three-year starter for the Hokies with experience at left tackle. Darrisaw could very well be a day one starter for the Bears.
Other OT Options
If Darrisaw is off the board, Chicago could pivot to Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins. At 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds, Jenkins profiles as more of a right tackle, but has experience at both spots.
Should the Bears see both those players taken before their pick, Pace could trade back, pick up another selection and draft Texas’s Sam Cosmi. Once a three star recruit, Cosmi improved every year for the Longhorns, grading out as one of the best pass blockers from his left tackle spot in 2020.
Rashod Bateman, WR
Franchising star receiver Allen Robinson was necessary after the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement on an extension, and Robinson signing his tender was a good sign that he won’t hold out come 2021. Darnell Mooney looks to have been a steal in the fifth-round of last year’s draft, finishing his rookie year with 61 catches for 631 yards and four touchdowns. Outside of him, Anthony Miller and Javon Wims both are in the organization’s doghouse after inconsistent performances and separate ejections.
The 2021 NFL Draft is another deep receiver class. Assuming Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle as well as LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase are all off the board by time the Bears pick rolls around, there’s still several intriguing prospects that the Bears can target.
Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman has long been linked to the Bears, given Robinson’s uncertain future with the team. Bateman’s best year for the Gophers came in 2019, when he hauled in 60 passes for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. He only played in five games in 2020, citing concerns over the effects of COVID-19 and his asthma, but looked really good at his pro day, clocking an unofficial 4.39 in the 40-yard dash.
Other WR Options
While Bateman profiles as more of an outside receiver, two prospects in Florida’s Kadarius Toney and Ole Miss’s Elijah Moore both figure as slot receivers in the NFL.
Toney exploded onto the national radar for Florida’s record-setting offense in 2020. The 5-foot-11 pass catcher finished the year with 70 receptions for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns. In the SEC Championship game against Alabama, Toney went off with eight catches, 153 yards and a touchdown. At his pro day, Toney ran an official 4.41 40-yard dash with an 11 foot, four inch broad jump and 41 inch vertical jump.
Standing at just 5-9 and weighing in at 185 pounds, Moore was one of the most explosive and consistent receivers in the country. Moore finished the season with 86 catches for 1,193 yards and eight scores. Moore is an exceptional route runner with strong hands, and opened eyes at his pro day with a blistering 4.33 40-yard dash.
So, while the bad news is that the Bears quarterback situation is unlikely to be strengthened on day one of the NFL Draft, there’s plenty of offensive talent available for Pace and the rest of the Bears brain trust to pick from.