Bears mock draft features Justin Fields trade, two DE picks originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
With the Senior Bowl around the corner, I’m stepping up my mock drafts to four rounds this week. We know how important the Senior Bowl is to Bears GM Ryan Poles as he makes his pre-draft evaluations, so I wanted to highlight some extra players who could be selected on Day 2 of the draft, and who will be in Mobile on Saturday.
As always, this mock draft is not an attempt to predict what the Bears will actually do when they’re back in the War Room next offseason. That’s impossible. Nor is it meant as a recommendation of what the Bears should do. This mock draft is meant as an opportunity to dig into some of the intriguing college prospects this season, and how those players may fit in Chicago.
NO. 1: CALEB WILLIAMS - QUARTERBACK - USC
We’ve written about Williams a lot already. If you haven’t seen the coverage, check it out here. Simply put, consensus says Williams is a nearly perfect quarterback prospect. Might be hard for Poles to pass on the opportunity, no matter what he thinks of Justin Fields.
NO. 9: DALLAS TURNER - EDGE - ALABAMA
Turner hasn’t generated the same pre-draft hype as Will Anderson did the year before at Alabama, but he’s the consensus pick to be the first edge rusher off the board. Draft experts call him explosive off the ball, and it’s clear he’s not a one-trick pony. Watch five minutes of highlights and you’ll see Turner win both by running past blockers or running right through them. His relentless pursuit of the ball is noticeable too, and the Bears will love that. Even though he’s listed as an outside linebacker, Turner has plenty of experience rushing with a hand in the dirt, which is important to play defensive end in Matt Eberflus’ scheme. He should be able to make the transition to defensive end without any trouble. In 58 games with the Crimson Tide, Turner racked up 23.5 sacks, 33.5 TFLs and 117 total pressures. He was named a Chuck Bednarik award finalist in 2023, which recognizes the top defensive player in the nation.
TRADE! BEARS SEND JUSTIN FIELDS AND 2025 SIXTH-ROUND PICK TO PATRIOTS IN EXCHANGE FOR NO. 34 OVERALL PICK AND 2025 FIFTH-ROUND PICK
The Patriots missed out on both Williams and Drake Maye, so they drafted LSU standout wide receiver Malik Nabers with the No. 3 overall pick in this mock. They kick off Day 2 by making a move for Justin Fields since the Bears are going with Williams. Poles recoups a second-round pick after he sent his own to the Commanders in exchange for Montez Sweat at the trade deadline.
NO. 34: KEON COLEMAN - WIDE RECEIVER - FLORIDA STATE
Neither Darnell Mooney nor Chase Claypool produced well as a WR2 in the Bears offense, and that’s something the Bears need to address this offseason. By trading back into the second round, the Bears add a big-bodied target to complement DJ Moore. Coleman’s listed at 6’4”, 215 lbs., can evade defenders either with elusiveness or physicality, and is extremely versatile. According to PFF, Coleman lined up in the slot 30% of the time last season. If the Bears dare use Coleman on special teams he was also effective as a punt returner with 300 yards on 25 returns (12 yds/return average).
NO. 75: MARSHAWN KNEELAND - EDGE - WESTERN MICHIGAN
The Bears double-dipped at defensive tackle when they selected both Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens in the 2023 draft. Poles uses the same move when he adds Kneeland one day after spending a top-10 pick to add Turner to the team. Kneeland meets many prerequisites to play for the Bears: he’s a true defensive end, earns praise for his run defense in addition to his pass rush and has a relentless motor. Kneeland’s numbers don’t pop off the page with 13 sacks in 38 games, but per PFF he had a 17.3% pass rush win rate, which ranked No. 29 in the country among edge rushers with at least 200 pass rush snaps. He’ll get the chance to show he can succeed against Power Five talent at the Senior Bowl.
NO. 110: SEDRICK VAN PRAN - CENTER - GEORGIA
The Bears didn’t get enough out of their centers this year, whether it was Cody Whitehair or Lucas Patrick, and protecting their new QB will be paramount to the team’s success. Van Pran was a three-year starter at Georgia, and per PFF he only gave up one sack and one hit in 1,419 pass blocking snaps. Van Pran was First-Team All-SEC and Second-Team All-American, and he was a finalist for the Rimington trophy which recognizes the best center in the country. Van Pran will also participate at the Senior Bowl.
NO. 122: MALIK MUSTAPHA - SAFETY - WAKE FOREST
Whether or not the Bears decide to retain Eddie Jackson in 2024, Poles will probably want to start thinking of the future at the position. It’s one of the thinnest groups on the team already, so it wouldn’t be surprising if Poles adds a player or two in free agency and the draft. Mustapha is a self-proclaimed Swiss army knife and the Demon Deacons took advantage by using him all over the field. In 2023 he lined up in the box 49% of the time, played deep 24% of the time and even played in the slot 21% of the time. The remaining 6% was split between playing at the line of scrimmage and moving out wide. Mustapha showed some ballhawk ability too, with three interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in 35 games. Mustapha is another player who the Bears can scout up close at the Senior Bowl.