Die-hard football fans who are so looking forward to the NFL draft in May have been searching for ways to enjoy the process. A rising popular vocation is using simulators. One that has caught on awfully fast comes from Fanspeak.com. Their simulator was recently upgraded to a premium version in which drafters can not only pick players but also conduct trades and fill out their own big boards. Intrigued by these new additions, all of which cost just $5 on a one-time fee for complete usage, I decided to conduct an NFL mock draft using my favorite team, the Chicago Bears to see what I could pull off as a potential GM.
For the purposes of saving time I chose to use the Fanspeak big board. It had players at relatively the same positions I did on my own board so it was better to use that as a key.
Round 1 – (Trade) – Kansas City sends #23 pick, 3rd, 4th and 5th rounders for 14th pick
Let me make this perfectly clear. If I were the Bears my top priority is finding a way to trade down. This draft is very deep at a lot of positions, especially on defense. Chicago still has work to do on a unit that finished dead last in most categories. One thing you’ll see about the Fanspeak Premium draft is that you receive trade offers from certain teams looking to possibly move up. One such offer came from the Kansas City Chiefs who put up their 23rd pick along with 3rd , 4th and 5th round selections for the 14th. Given the confidence I had in my board I accepted the deal and they moved up to grab USC receiver Marqise Lee.
Round 1 – (Trade) – San Francisco sends #30 pick, 4th and 7th rounders for 23rd pick
This time the trade was instigated by me. My board still showed a bunch of quality defenders available that I was confident I could get later on, so I sent out feelers to the San Francisco 49ers about a deal. We settled on exchanging their 30th pick along with a 4th and 7th rounder for the 23rd pick. With that the 49ers selected speedy Oregon State receiver Brandin Cooks.
Round 1 (f/SF) – C.J. Mosley – ILB – Alabama
To be frank, I was stunned when I saw C.J. Mosley was still on the board. Then again I also wasn’t. He is easily the best inside linebacker in the 2014 class. His athleticism, speed, intelligence and leadership are all top notch. The problem is there are some concerns about his health considering how dinged up he was in college. That would explain the steep drop in the first round. Yet to get him with the 30th pick as a potential long-term replacement for Brian Urlacher is an absolute steal.
Round 2 – Timmy Jernigan – DT – Florida State
Based on what I’ve been hearing, the feelings on Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan are mixed. Some really like him, others think he not a good enough pass rusher to go in the first round. Not that I was complaining when he fell in my lap in the second. I know the pass rush question is something to consider, but the Chicago Bears run defense was a shambles in 2013, and there isn’t a better player in this class at controlling the line of scrimmage and stopping the run than Jernigan.
Round 3 – Terrance Brooks – S – Florida State
Phil Emery has been feverishly adding defensive backs to the Bears roster since free agency started, including three safeties. However, two of those safeties, M.D. Jennings and Daniel McCray are more about bolstering the special teams than creating competition for the starting jobs. Free safety Chris Conte still needs somebody who can come in and legitimately push him. While not imposing in terms of size, Terrance Brooks has the range, instincts and athleticism. He played corner at one time which is why he’s good in coverage but he shows more physicality than people realize. On top of all that, he does well on special teams.
Round 3 (f/KC) – Keith McGill – CB – Utah
Here is a clear fact. Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, their two projected starters at corner are in their 30s. Kelvin Hayden, who is in competition for the nickel back job is also over 30. In other words the Bears need young blood at corner. In an age where big receivers are dominating, a trend of drafting bigger corners is growing in popularity. Utah standout Keith McGill fits that mold at 6’3″, and his underrated athleticism allows him to play the ball without getting in trouble in press coverage.
Round 4 – Bishop Sankey – RB – Washington
I honestly thought he would go higher but part of my NFL mock draft plan was to knock out every key defensive position for the Bears by the 4th round so I could have the leeway, if necessary to help out the offense. Thankfully that came to pass and it seems like fate. Although my original target, Charles Sims was taken a few spaces earlier, I did not weep at all when I saw Bishop Sankey still available. The Washington prospect can do everything on the football field. He’s very versatile, able to run inside and outside, can catch passes, has great vision and never backs down in pass protection. An ideal fit for the Marc Trestman offense.
Round 4 – (f/KC) (Trade) – Titans send 5th and 7th rounders in ’14 and 6th in ’15 for 120th pick
Thanks to my earlier trades I ended up with three picks in the 4th round. So when Tennessee offered 5th and 7th round picks in 2014 and a 6th in 2015 I felt there was no real harm in the deal since it got me some help for next year and I still had another 4th rounder to go regardless. The Titans then used that pick to grab Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith.
Round 4 (f/SF) – Marcus Martin – C – USC
Based on what I’ve been hearing I believe this guy might go earlier but the fact that Marcus Martin was still available in the 4th round was a bonus for me. Chicago did the right thing by bringing back Roberto Garza but he is also 35-years old. The team needs somebody behind him to become the eventual replacement. Martin is the most physically gifted of the centers in this draft and he quietly had a better 2013 season than people realize.
Round 5 (f/TEN) – Caraun Reid – DT – Princeton
Where Jernigan will provide the run stuffing ability, the Chicago Bears still need to add a young interior pass rusher to help fill the hole left by Henry Melton. He may come from a smaller program at Princeton, but Caraun Reid plays like he belongs in the pros. The length isn’t the most desired, but he has a great first step and a variety of moves that allow him to penetrate gaps and get after the quarterback. His Senior Bowl performance (two sacks on back-to-back plays) really showed what he can do.
Round 5 – Kareem Martin – DE – North Carolina
Another player experts are split on. Kareem Martin boasts obvious upside. He has the size, strength and speed to fit right in at defensive end. His big drawback is inconsistency. The kid just can’t string enough good performances together. He has plenty of physical talent that have drawn comparisons to Justin Tuck. It’s merely a question of work ethic and dedication. At present he is a great option as a situational pass rusher.
Round 5 (f/KC) – Aaron Murray – QB – Georgia
Another part of my plan really got started the moment Chicago hired Marc Trestman. That is to add a young quarterback to the roster for him to groom. Jay Cutler isn’t going anywhere, but history has shown he struggles to stay healthy during a season, so it’s a good idea to have a solid backup plan in place. If not for an ACL injury late in the season Aaron Murray would be a Day 2 pick for sure. He holds almost every SEC passing record, has a great arm, makes good decisions, is accurate and has better mobility than advertised. The injury and the fact he’s 6’1″ would be the reasons he falls to the 5th round. However, as a long-term project he might have the most promise of any mid round prospect. At the very least he would make a solid replacement for Josh McCown.
Round 6 (f/TB) – T.J. Jones – WR – Notre Dame
This new era is about offense for the Bears and that means keeping a loaded deck of wide receivers. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are the staples on the outside but a competition is brewing for the third slot. Earl Bennett was recently released and Eric Weems could be next. At present 2013 7th round pick Marquess Wilson and free agent addition Domenik Hixon are favorites for the job. Perhaps Emery would like to add some more spice to the melee with T.J. Jones. So overlooked coming out of a run-first offense at Notre Dame, he is one of the most polished receivers in his class. He won’t blow people away with speed or size but he runs crisp routes and has excellent hands, both big requirements in a West Coast offense.
Round 6 – Aaron Colvin – CB – Oklahoma
Another player undone by a badly timed knee injury. Aaron Colvin had a lot going for him into this off-season thanks to his physical play and upside as a cover corner. His problems are the knee injury, of course but also inconsistent technique that got him in trouble against savvy receivers. There is no question about his potential. He has the mindset and the aggressive attitude. He merely lacks the polish, provided his knee is healthy.
Round 7 (f/TEN) – Brandon Linder – G – Miami
Matt Slauson and Kyle Long formed an outstanding guard tandem for Chicago in 2013 and appear to have those jobs nailed down for the foreseeable future. That doesn’t mean they are immune to possible injury. The Bears do need to consider adding some depth at guard. Brandon Linder looks the part at 6’6″, 315 lbs. He is a massive stalwart in the middle and helped Miami average 446 yards of offense in 2013. Athletically speaking he’s not great but he makes up for it with intelligence, leadership and tenacity. Upside is there to go beyond backup status.
Round 7 (f/SF) – Connor Shaw – QB – South Carolina
The seventh round might as well be called the “screw it” round. It’s the round where teams feel the most confident taking a gamble on players with intriguing upside or who have certain admirable traits despite limited ability. South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw is the epitome of that. At 6’0″ he has neither the size nor arm strength preferred from a pro quarterback but his outstanding scouting combine and winning ways with the Gamecocks showed a competitor who used intelligence, toughness and accuracy to make up for his deficiencies. The Chicago Bears could stash him away for later as a possible backup plan to backup plan Aaron Murray.
Did I get the full value of the trades I made? That is for you to debate. What I do know is I feel very strongly about my picks. I managed to add a middle linebacker, anchor defensive tackle and rangy safety in the first three rounds alone followed by a tall, lengthy corner and then key backups for Matt Forte, Roberto Garza and Jay Cutler. I filled every conceivable need on the roster with upside players who showed enough during their college season or in the pre-draft process to warrant a selection in my NFL mock draft. If anything else, Fanspeak certainly makes it exciting. To see my full selection list, follow the link below or visit their website.