The Chicago Bears’ 2021 NFL Draft needs have been impacted, even if slightly, by their moves in free agency, including the decision to sign QB Andy Dalton and move on from cornerback Kyle Fuller, bringing less of a focus on quarterback in Round 1 and potentially a greater need for a defensive back with their first pick.
In this post-free agency mock draft, I take a swing at which players the Bears could realistically target in each round when the 2021 NFL draft kicks off on April 29.
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Round 1: Rashod Bateman, WR, Minnesota
Bateman has been a popular pick for the Bears throughout draft season and I don’t think there’s any reason to move off of that narrative, especially after Chicago was all-in on the Kenny Golladay sweepstakes.
Like Golladay, Bateman is a bigger-bodied pass-catcher who can make plays on all three levels of the passing game. He’d provide the Bears with peace of mind entering 2022 as well, considering Robinson will once again be entering unrestricted free agency at the end of next year.
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Round 2: Landon Dickerson, OL, Alabama
The Bears have a bigger need at offensive tackle, but Dickerson is the kind of tempo-setter that Chicago’s offensive line has been lacking since the early days of Kyle Long’s career.
Had Dickerson been healthy all of 2020, he’d be a first-round pick. Landing a 10-year starter at either guard or center is fantastic value at No. 52 overall.
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Round 3: Spencer Brown, OT, Northern Iowa
Chicago fills a need in the third round with Brown, who’s an imposing figure at 6’9, 315 pounds. He’s a quality athlete for his size and has the kind of rare length that makes up for any of his athletic shortcomings, too.
Is he ready to start right away in the NFL? Probably not. But for a team desperate to land a starting right tackle at some point before the 2021 season kicks off, a player like Brown could be thrown into the fire immediately.
I’m a fan of Brown and believe he’ll be a quality starter in the pros. Adding him in the third round is a nice value-meets-need pick.
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Round 5: Kary Vincent Jr., CB, LSU
Finally, the Bears land a cornerback, although Vincent isn’t the kind of prospect who’d come in and challenge for a starting job right away. That gig belongs to Desmond Trufant, the veteran signed to presumably replace Kyle Fuller in the starting lineup.
Vincent would continue the recent Ryan Pace draft history of adding Day-3 cornerbacks with special teams and sub-package upside like Kindle Vildor (2019, Rd. 5) and Duke Shelley (2018, Rd. 6).
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Round 6: Malcolm Koonce, Edge, Buffalo
The Bears are going to add a pass rusher in the 2021 draft. It’s something Pace has done on Day 3 in two of the last three drafts, and with Robert Quinn failing to make an impact after signing a huge free-agent contract in 2020, a player like Koonce makes sense here in the sixth round.
Koonce has 17.5 sacks over his last 17 games at Buffalo.
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Round 6: Feleipe Franks, QB, Arkansas
Quarterback alert! I couldn’t let the Bears go an entire draft (once again) without picking a quarterback, and the best of the remaining prospects on the board is Franks, who after a promising start to his career is nothing more than a practice squad roll of the dice.
I have no expectation that Franks will be an NFL starter or even hang around the league for all that long. But sometimes, a random star emerges that no scout or evaluator could’ve predicted. If the Bears want to land one someday, they have to keep swinging.
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Round 6: Rakeem Boyd, RB, Arkansas
Chicago has a concerning lack of depth at running back, and that’s with Tarik Cohen returning from a torn ACL this year.
David Montgomery will be the centerpiece of the offense for years to come, but he’ll need a quality backup who can handle the early-down work whenever he needs a breather.
Boyd checks the boxes from a physical standpoint and had a much more impressive 2019 season than his injury-riddled 2020 when his production dipped to 309 yards and three touchdowns after a 2019 campaign that totaled more than 1,100 yards and over six yards per carry.
Boyd is a better player than this draft slot and the Bears benefit as a result.