Schrock's crowd-sourced Bears mock draft: Unique decisions to support Caleb Williams

Schrock's crowd-sourced Bears mock draft: Unique decisions to support Caleb Williams originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

For the past four months, mock drafts have been flying off the shelves from analysts and reporters alike.

Since the Bears traded quarterback Justin Fields to the Pittsburgh Steelers in early March, every Bears mock draft has had one purpose: Finding the best way to support presumptive No. 1 overall pick Caleb Williams.

While my final mock draft will arrive Wednesday with fresh intel, I like to use draft week as a way to allow fans to take the wheel. Last year, fans opted for a costly trade down for wide receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, passing on offensive tackle Darnell Wright in the process.

This year's fan-sourced mock draft started with a free space at No. 1 overall in Williams, and then the wheels started turning:

Round 1 (No. 1 overall): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

There was no point in leaving this one up to chance.

Williams has checked every box for the Bears during the pre-draft process. They tape and person match all the criteria laid out by general manager Ryan Poles, and those inside Halas Hall are convinced that Williams is uniquely wired to thrive in the Chicago pressure cooker.

The 2022 Heisman Trophy winner is embracing the pressure and expectations that will come with being a franchise savior, and the Bears have done their part to show Williams they are willing to invest in the necessary infrastructure for him to reach his lofty potential.

Arm talent, accuracy, escapability, and off-schedule playmaking—Williams has it all. And the Bears will have their best chance at breaking an 80-year quarterback curse come Thursday when the No. 1 overall pick is holding up a blue and orange jersey.



This is where I let Bears Twitter take the reigns.

The Bears went back on the clock at No. 9, but left tackle Joe Alt, and wide receivers Rome Odunze, Malik Nabers, and Marvin Harrison Jr. were all off the board.

With those options gone, choices were between UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu, Georgia tight end Brock Bowers, Alabama offensive tackle JC Latham, and a trade down.

Unsurprisingly, the trade-down won out as fans elected to send the No. 9 pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for No. 22, No. 50, No. 120, and a 2024 third-round pick (this didn't meet the 25-character limit on the artist formerly known as Twitter but was necessary to get the deal done).

GRADE: B-plus

If the four players listed aren't available, trading down is the best option. Going down to 22 is far, but it's a risk worth taking with no sure-fire elite edge rusher in the class. Getting the No. 50 overall pick is a much-needed Day 2 pickup.

Round 1 (No. 22 overall): Byron Murphy, DT, Texas

It wasn't surprising to see Bowers, Latu, Latham, Dallas Turner, Latham, and Taliese Fuaga all go between nine and 22.

But the Bears caught a break here as Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy, arguably the top defensive player in the class, fell to No. 22.

Given the choice between Murphy, Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell, Georgia offensive tackle Amarius Mims, and another trade down, Bears Twitter smartly elected to take Murphy and run.

In Murphy, the Bears get a twitchy, explosive defensive tackle that can cause consistent disruption from the interior. According to Pro Football Focus, he led all interior defensive linemen with a 19.6 percent pressure rate last season.

Murphy is powerful, has a quick first step, and has the balance and flexion needed to shoot gaps and cause havoc in the backfield.

Head coach Matt Eberflus gets the "engine" of his defense.


Second round (No. 50 overall): Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

The Bears are back on the lock at No. 50 and had several intriguing wide receiver prospects to choose from as they look to get Williams another weapon.

Given the choice between Oregon's Troy Franklin, Florida's Ricky Pearsall, and Georgia's Ladd McConkey, Bears Twitter went with McConkey in a landslide.

McConkey is a Day 1-ready slot receiver who is a crisp route-runner with great hands. McConkey does a great job manipulating corners to create leverage and has the quickness and agility needed to rack up yards after the catch.

While I like McConkey, his ceiling is probably as an excellent No. 3 receiver in a specific role. I think both Franklin and Pearsall have a higher upside, but there's no question McConkey will give the Bears' offense a lift immediately. They just might have missed out on a bigger prize.



Still needing an edge rusher, the Bears see two good prospects at No. 75 in Austin Booker and Marshawn Kneeland.

But after a back-and-forth debate, Bears Twitter opted to pass on both Booker and Kneeland, as well as UCF receiver Javon Baker, and trade down to accumulate more picks.

The Bears send No. 75 to the Indianapolis Colts for Nos. 82 and 117.

I understand the desire to add another pick, but Kneeland or Booker would fill another immediate need. Booker reminds scouts of Maxx Crosby, while Kneeland is a raw, toolsy prospect with a high ceiling.

Return isn't worth passing on Booker and Kneeland.


Third round (No. 82 overall): Cooper Beebe, OG, Kansas State

The Bears luck out, and Booker is still on the board at 82, but Kansas State guard Cooper Beebe won the day in the war room, and it wasn't particularly close.

Beebe is a big, powerful guard who is a bulldozer in the run game. His short arms could decrease his margin for error at the next level. Beebe is a strong pass-protector with good processing skills in stunts and games.

Drafting Beebe gives the Bears a plan for life after either Teven Jenkins or Nate Davis, but I still would have preferred Booker at this spot.

Grade: C-plus

Fourth round (No. 117): Sedrick Van Pran, C, Georgia

Bears Twitter came into the draft looking to add depth to the line and ensure there's a plan to protect Williams after 2024.

While the Bears signed Coleman Shelton and traded for Ryan Bates this offseason, they still need to address the center position long-term.

Given a choice between USC wide receiver Brendan Rice, Colorado State edge rusher Mohamed Kamara, Pittsburgh offensive tackle Matt Goncalves, and Georgia center Sedrick Van Pran, the choice was easy.

Van Pran is a scheme-versatile center with a high football IQ and tremendous athleticism. He has quick hands and great play strength. His technique still needs some polishing, but he should be a good depth piece in 2024 and can take over in 2025.

Given that the Bears have three picks in seven selections here, I probably would have taken Rice and banked on Van Pran being available at 120.

But I like the player, and it fills a clear need.

GRADE: B-plus

Fourth round (No. 120 overall): Mohamed Kamara, EDGE, CSU

As expected, Rice went off the board at 119.

With the Bears back on the clock at 120, it is finally time to address the lack of edge-rushing depth by selecting Kamara.

Kamara relies heavily on his power since he lacks the prototypical length for a top-tier edge rusher. He was incredibly productive at Colorado State, thanks to his violent hands and the type of constant force and aggression that will lead to production in the NFL.

He's a decent depth piece, but this is where passing on Booker and Kneeland bites you.

GRADE: C-plus

Fourth round (No. 122): Luke McCaffrey, WR, Rice

The draft ends with the Bears selecting another slot receiver, this time in the form of Luke McCaffrey.

McCaffrey doesn't have the explosion of his brother Christian, but he's got good hands and is a hard-nosed receiver who doesn't mind running into the teeth of the defense.

The former quarterback still needs to improve his route running, but with coaching, he could become a decent depth receiver.

The Twitter GMs selected McCaffrey over Texas defensive tackle T'Vondre Sweat, Georgia safety Tykee Smith, and UCLA edge rusher Gabriel Murphy.

GRADE: D-plus

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