Here it is, my final mock draft of 2017. I could have just as easily named this the “what I would do if I were Ryan Pace” edition. As the title says, this is what I personally believe would be a very good and most realistic outcome. There will be no trades. I will not be picking players because I want to study them. This is my interpretation of a Grade-A draft and an ideal outcome for the Bears.
I have mocked several of these players already, but I have gone back and re-watched all of their tape. It has been long enough that I could go in with fresh eyes and give a more detailed impression of the player and how I view their fit with the Bears.
Disclaimer: I am not a draft expert. By no means do I claim to be; these are my opinions based on watching the tape.
Round 1 – Pick No. 3 – 3rd Overall: Mitchell Trubisky – Quarterback – North Carolina
When watching Mitch Trubisky on tape, it is hard to find many flaws in his game. He moves around very well in the pocket, has more than adequate arm strength and is very accurate.
Trubisky is an excellent athlete but he was asked to carry the ball too often in North Carolina’s spread attack. These designed draws and option plays were usually recognized immediately by opposing defenses. This led to a lot of negative plays and put the quarterback in a positon where he had to make plays late in a series.
When flushed from the pocket, you see his ability to shake a defender, turn the corner and pick up valuable yards. I also noticed that several times when it appeared that he would run for the first down, he flicked the ball to his running back, which turned into a huge play. Trubisky is absolutely a pass-first quarterback with plenty of mobility outside of the pocket.
Inside the pocket, he has above average awareness and usually can avoid a sack. When he does get sacked, it is generally with his eyes downfield looking to throw. Another underestimated aspect of Trubisky’s game is his play-fake abilities. When asked to carry out a fake, the opposing team’s defenders consistently hesitated and allowed that split-second that means everything in the NFL.
Trubisky is extremely accurate in the short-to-intermediate passing zones. He especially excels on screen passes, running back check-downs and crossing routes. In addition to his overall accuracy, he usually will lead his receivers so that they can gain valuable yards after the catch. He also has a knack for “throwing his receivers open”, meaning that when they are facing zone coverage, he can put the ball on the side of the receiver opposite the defender.
In the intermediate passing game, Trubisky tends to throw his come-back routes to the sideline-side of his receiver. In lieu of a fade pass, he prefers to throw the ever popular back-shoulder throw. He tends to throw the ball on a flatter line than I would like, but it’s almost always thrown in a perfect spot.
The biggest weakness that I see with Trubisky is his deep ball. This is slightly knit-picky, as most quarterbacks struggle to throw deep passes accurately. He tended to have a lot of his deeper passes dropped, so the numbers are a little skewed. When he did miss though, he tended to miss in a good place: where the defensive back couldn’t make a play on the ball. If you are going to miss, miss out of bounds.
Right now, Mitch Trubisky most reminds me of Jimmy Garoppolo. They have very similar skill-sets as prospects. I believe that Trubisky has a higher ceiling though. Think about where Ryan Pace came from, New Orleans. I see a lot of Drew Brees in Trubisky’s game and I think that is probably the absolute ceiling. In addition to being the safest quarterback prospect in the draft, I believe that Mitch Trubisky also is the most likely to reach his ceiling. The Bears finally get their quarterback.
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Round 2 – Pick No. 4 – 36th Overall: Budda Baker – Safety – Washington
Budda Baker is one of my favorite players to watch. He is not “flashy” in that he won’t always make huge plays. What he is though, is an excellent football player. Honestly, I believe that Baker is every bit as talented as Jamal Adams, and you can likely get him in the second round.
When I watch Baker on tape, he reminds of another second-round pick by the Bears, who also happened to play Safety: Mike Brown. I am not saying he is the same player, but their play is very similar. Unfortunately, they are also similar in size. The main reason that Baker falls to the second round is that he is a little undersized to play the style that he does, which many believe will lead to injuries.
What I initially notice is that he plays across from a wide receiver or tight end most of the time. He is not your typical “center field” type of free safety. He can cover his assignment in either man or zone (which Washington plays both about equally). He is not the most fluid athlete, but he has excellent speed and hip swivel.
Baker is also a physical player. He likes to stick his nose in the action on running plays and isn’t afraid to make a big hit over-the-middle. I saw him blitz several times as well and he has excellent timing, and the ability to “bend” the corner like a pass-rusher would. This led to several QB hits and tackles for loss (TFL).
Budda Baker is what I would describe as a football player, in addition to an athlete. He has the great instincts, coverage ability, physicality and athleticism to be an outstanding NFL player. This is the type of pick that you can instantly insert into almost any defensive backfield and improve your team. I would personally be very excited if the Bears ended up with Baker.
Round 3 – Pick No. 3 – 67th Overall: Bucky Hodges – Tight End – Virginia Tech
Bucky Hodges was new to me coming into this mock, but I took him based on the scouting reports that I have seen on him. He has excellent size at 6’6” and 257 pounds. He put on about 10 pounds prior to the Combine as he had played in the 245 range in college. I would ideally like to see another 10-15 pounds added to his frame, which I think can handle.
Hodges was used literally everywhere in Virginia Tech’s offensive scheme. He mainly lined up as a wide receiver but I saw him used quite a bit as an in-line tight end and even the pitch man on options runs. Hodges’ excellent speed made him the primary weapon for quarterback Jerod Evans. Due to Evans’ lack of accuracy, Hodges relied mainly on his size to catch contested passes downfield. Hodges also caught a number of wide receiver screen passes with varying degrees of success.
Let’s face it, Hodges is fast for a tight end but is rather pedestrian as a wide receiver. He simply wasn’t used correctly in college. He shows a willingness to block and was most effective as an in-line blocker. Hodges is not a polished route-runner, he can struggle to make blocks downfield and occasionally loses concentration when attempting to catch the ball.
However, Bucky Hodges has all the tools to become a game-changing “Y” (in-line) tight end in the NFL. In the confined spaces of the “Y” position, his blocking skills would immediately benefit. The route options would also allow him to focus more on technique, rather than speed. Hodges would make an excellent weapon for the Bears offense for years to come.
Round 4 – Pick No. 4 – 111th Overall: Julie’n Davenport – Offensive Tackle – Bucknell
The fourth round has historically been a gold mine for offensive line talent. If you follow the NFL closely, then you understand just how important it is to continually draft offensive linemen and develop them. Julie’n Davenport is that player for the Bears. Davenport is very raw, but he has tremendous upside with some hard coaching.
Davenport is a large man, checking it at 6’7” and 318 pounds. He has wonderful length, as shown by his 36.5” arms. He is the ideal size for an offensive tackle in the NFL. Watching him on tape it is apparent that he will likely never be a left tackle, which is fine. He lacks the quickness and foot speed to mirror speed rushers in pass protection. However, he has strong hands and a violent punch.
He is not being drafted as a left tackle though; I want Davenport to be a mauler on the right side. He is powerful and his long arms will aid him greatly in pass protection to make up for his lack of overall athleticism. If he can develop for a year or two behind Bobbie Massie, he will be able to step in and upgrade the right tackle position. He should be able to fill in towards the end of his rookie season, should Massie suffer an injury.
I really enjoy solid offensive line play and am a proponent of general manager’s picking one in every draft. This is the single position group on every roster where you can’t afford to have poor play and/or lack depth. Julie’n Davenport is that guy for me in the fourth round. Should he harness his immense physical gifts, he should be a very good right tackle for many years.
Round 4 – Pick No. 10 – 117th Overall: Ryan Switzer – Wide Receiver – North Carolina
Ryan Switzer was often a security blanket for Mitch Trubisky during their time in Chapel Hill. The lightning-quick slot receiver was almost always open and gained a ton of yards after the catch. While I do think that he plays a majority of the time at the slot position in the NFL, he did play running back in High School. At North Carolina, Switzer was also a record-tying punt returner and racked up seven touchdowns in his college career.
For me, this pick is about finding one player who can fill several roles. His versatility will allow him to line up in the backfield, in the slot, as a punt returner and as a familiar target for my first-round pick. Dowell Loggains should be able to coax all of the athleticism that Switzer possesses and turn him into a formidable weapon.
Switzer is small at 5’8” and 181 pounds, but what he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in quickness. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but when you watch him play, you see a player that is extremely light on his feet and can make the kind of cuts that leave defenders in his wake. Screens, crossing routes, quick outs and outlet passes (when in the Backfield) are where Switzer is going to make his money.
While I don’t believe Ryan Switzer is quite big enough to be compared to the premier slot receivers in the NFL, I think he can be a mix of slot and receiving running back in a Darren Sproles mold. If Switzer is one-on-one in the open field, you might as well pack it in; he is that quick. Injury is always going to be a concern, but you can limit his exposure by packaging plays specifically for him. Any offensive coordinator should be pounding the table to have this type of weapon in their arsenal.
Round 5 – Pick No. 3 – 147th Overall: Jalen Reeves-Maybin – Inside Linebacker – Tennessee
With Danny Trevathan’s injury, the “JACK” positon has become a need for the Bears. Trevathan’s injury is one that will likely not see him ever get back to the same player he was before the injury, no matter how patient the Bears are with it. Enter Jalen Reeves-Maybin. When watching his film, he immediately reminds me of Trevathan.
Reeves-Maybin is solid in coverage, very athletic and has excellent play recognition. He has every tool you could possibly want at the “JACK” position and should be able to step in right away. It is apparent that he is very smart and was the leader of that Tennessee defense. Reeves-Maybin was responsible for getting everyone lined up and on the same page, which should help him adjust quickly to a new system.
There are some things that he needs to work on though. Jalen Reeves-Maybin is a little undersized but still has a knack for disengaging from blockers to make plays. He has poor form when tackling but he is almost always in position to make a play. If Reeves-Maybin can clean that up at the next level, he should be a big-time playmaker on an improving Bears defense.
Round 7 – Pick No. 3 – 221st Overall: Channing Stribling – Cornerback – Michigan
With this draft being so deep at cornerback, it is no surprise that I was able to snag a player as talented as Channing Stribling in the seventh round. While not receiving the same fanfare as his teammate, Jourdan Lewis, Stribling has several traits that could turn him into an excellent NFL player.
Stribling is long and lean at 6’1” and 188 pounds with 31.5” arms, which is ideal size for a cornerback in today’s NFL. He has solid press-man skills and has a decent jam at the line of scrimmage. While lacking straight-line speed, he has an excellent burst to close on the route and stay in the receiver’s hip pocket. Despite his thin frame, he doesn’t shy away from contact and isn’t afraid to make a tackle.
There are some traits that you just can’t teach, and Stribling has several of these: size, length and the ability to turn his head around and track the ball in the air. This is what makes him such an exciting prospect. He will need some work, as he can get a little too physical down field, but he possesses some veteran hand-fighting abilities as the ball is in the air. These are skills that are difficult to teach and Stribling does them naturally.
If Channing Stribling gets the chance to work with a superior coach like Ed Donatell, his ceiling is enormous. He has all the traits and ball skills to develop into a top-tier cornerback in the NFL. Should he continue to receive the type of coaching he needs at the next level, I see no reason why he can’t develop into a very good player.
Thank you all for reading, I have really enjoyed being able to share my thoughts with you all. Hopefully some of you have gone out and studied a few of the players that I have taken in these mock drafts to judge for yourselves. The best part of this for me is finding players that I have never heard of before and being able to see what the hype is for others.
It makes you appreciate just how much work goes into these mocks from big name, professional writers to the weekend warrior blog poster. It takes time to study these players on film and be able to form an opinion based on traits and projections. I urge everyone to find film on players that they are interested in watching so they can see just what a player has to offer, you might just be surprised at what you find.
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