Bears mock draft after Kevin Byard deal. Poles charge at WR, DE

By | March 11, 2024

Bears mock draft after Kevin Byard deal. Poles charges at WR, DE originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

NFL Free Agency still doesn’t officially open for a few days, but the Bears have already made a move that could impact their 2024 draft plans. On Sunday, the team announced that they had reached an agreement with All-Pro- safety Kevin Byard. GM Ryan Poles filled a major hole on the roster by adding Byard. With only five picks in hand for the upcoming draft (as things stand), Poland may also have pushed safety lower on its priority list (if he doesn’t add any new picks between now and the end of April).

Accordingly, here is a mock draft in which Poland eschews the security position in favor of addressing other positions of need. As always, this mock draft is not an attempt to predict what the Bears will actually do when they are back in the War Room next season. That is impossible. It’s also not meant to be a recommendation for what the Bears should do. This mock draft is intended as a fun way to discuss wild ideas, dig into some of the intriguing college prospects this season, and project how those players could fit in Chicago.

We’ve known for a long time that Williams is as good a prospect as anyone in recent history. There are virtually no flaws in his game and he can make every throw on the field. But the Bears got to know Williams personally for the first time last week. Character is very important to them. If they like Williams as a person, they’ll pick him at the top of the draft. If they find red flags, there’s a chance they’ll trade the pick and select someone else. But that seems unlikely at the moment.

Click here for all our coverage of the QB phenomenon.

TRADE! BEARS SHIPPING NO. 9 PICK, 2025 SIXTH ROUND TO BRONCOS IN EXCHANGE FOR NOS. 12, 76 PICKS, THIRD ROUND 2025.

By the time the Bears are back on the clock, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze and Brock Bowers are all off the board. Without the opportunity to add one of the top pass catchers, the Bears move back a few spots and add a third-round pick in the process.

NO. 12: JARED VERS – EDGE – STATE OF FLORIDA

Verse wasn’t the most consistently productive pass rusher this year (4.5 sacks over the first 11 games, 4.5 sacks over the last two games), but he beat his man at a great clip all year long (21.8 % pass rush win rate). Verse also showed a great mix of speed and power at the NFL Combine. His 4.58-second 40-yard dash ranked fourth among all defensive ends. His three-cone drill of 7.31 seconds ranked third. Verse topped all defensive ends with 31 bench press reps. These traits should play even better when facing Montez Sweat on the defensive line.

TRADE! BEARS SEND JUSTIN FIELDS TO PATRIOTS IN EXCHANGE FOR NOS. 68, 192 CHOICES.

The Patriots opted to sign Harrison Jr. to draft with the No. 3 overall pick instead of a QB, and instead send a third-rounder and sixth-rounder to the Bears for Fields. For all the talk about the Bears recouping a second-round pick for Fields early this year, recent reports suggest the market isn’t as robust as many thought.

NO. 68: BRENDAN RICE – WIDE RECEIVER – USC

This pick begins a series of three selections at eight spots that will fill key spots on the Bears roster. Poles starts by pairing Williams with one of his receivers from SC. Rice joined the Trojans last season and caught 45 passes for 791 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is 6-foot-1, which fits in well with DJ Moore’s 6-foot-4 frame. Like his father, Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, Brendan was one of the more confident receivers in college last year, shooting just 4.3% per PFF. Rice is also considered by draft experts to be one of the most advanced route runners in the class.

NO. 75: AUSTIN BOOKER – DEFENSIVE END – KANSAS

Even with Verse in tow, the Bears could add more rotational pass rushers. The best defensive lines come at their opponents in waves, with a second unit able to maintain the pressure while the starters take a breather to stay fresh for the fourth quarter. With Verse in tow, the Bears can also afford to draft a player with little experience but who has the upside to develop into an impact player. Booker only started one game for the Jayhawks last year, but still managed to record eight sacks, 12 TFLs and two forced fumbles in a reserve role. He shows great instincts in diagnosing a play and never gives up in the chase. Booker defends the run just as effectively as he rushes the quarterback, which is also a must for the Bears.

NO. 76: XAVIER WORTHY – WIDE RECEIVER – TEXAS

The Bears double dip at wide receiver right after they double dip at DE. Worthy made headlines when he set a Combine record with a 4.21-second 40-yard dash. He also caught plenty of touchdowns for the Longhorns in his three seasons there. In 39 games at Texas, Worthy made 26 touchdown catches. Although his scoring dipped in 2023 when AD Mitchell came to town, his other numbers went up with a career-high of 75 receptions and 1,014 receiving yards. He’s a true speedster who should have no problem playing second (or actually third) fiddle in attack. If there’s a knock on Worthy, it’s his size (165 lbs.) and his penchant for dropping (7.1% drop rate in Texas, per PFF).

NO. 109: CADE STOVER – TIGHT END – OHIO STATE

New Bears OC Shane Waldron likes to use two tight end sets and could use a pure pass catcher at the position given Cole Kmet’s development as an inline blocker. Stover meets the requirements. He is a player with a high Relative Athletic Score, which indicates great athleticism. The Buckeyes used Stover more than 40% of the time in the 2022 and 2023 seasons, and that’s where the Bears could use him as well. During that same time, Stover caught 77 passes for 982 yards and 10 touchdowns. If the team lets him focus on catching passes instead of the complexities of the position, some of that production could translate to the professional game more quickly than other young tight ends enjoy.

NO. 121: COOPER BEEBE – WAIT – KANSAS STATE

The Bears added Ryan Bates, presumably to compete for the starting center job, or at least add depth to the interior of the line. Regardless, the Bears could still add more players to the group. Injuries happen every year, and last season, when Teven Jenkins or Nate Davis went down, the Bears backups weren’t up to snuff. Beebe is an athletic lineman – an absolute must for Poland. His unofficial relative athletic score is 9.49 out of 10. That’s elite. Furthermore, Beebe has experience playing every position on the offensive line except center. That is invaluable. In 49 games dating back to 2020, Beebe gave up just five sacks and 35 pressures per PFF. He won Big-12 Offensive Lineman of the Year in 2022 and 2023.

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