The rumors and whispers continue to tweak the plans for the Chicago Bears in May. Here is their latest NFL mock draft.
Round 1 – Justin Gilbert – CB – Oklahoma State
Phil Emery is a sucker for athletes, especially ones who can do more than one thing well. Justin Gilbert was an outstanding cornerback in 2013 but that overshadowed how good he was at returning kicks too. He might not start right away if he joined the Bears defense but he’d have a chance to learn from Pro Bowlers Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings while also taking over kick return duties from the departed Devin Hester.
Round 2 – Stephon Tuitt – DT – Notre Dame
The exact landing spot for Stephon Tuitt is all over the map. Some see him as a surefire first rounder while others think he will slip well into the second. One thing is clear. The Bears will take him if he’s there at #51. The Notre Dame product is a physical specimen at 6’5″ with 34-inch arms, a 302-lbs frame and the speed to play inside or outside. His pass rush ability and size combination would make him a perfect three-technique tackle in the Bears system, a position they need to fill with Henry Melton gone.
Round 3 – Brock Vereen – FS – Minnesota
Keeping to the athlete idea, Chicago probably took notice of Minnesota free safety Brock Vereen, who tested very well at the scouting combine. His intelligence came through quite often for the Gophers and he possesses the speed and range desired from those at his position. He’s got good height but he’s somewhat slender and struggles to tackle at times. Still, his upside and intangibles more than make up for that.
Round 4 – Russell Bodine – C – North Carolina
Free agent maneuvering has put the Chicago Bears roster in a position to where they can afford addressing issues on offense in the mid to later rounds if they desire. Center is among the positions requiring the most attention. Roberto Garza is 35-years old and sitting on a one-year deal. Grabbing Russell Bodine in the 4th would be a perfect chance to groom his eventual successor. Though stiff and a bit lacking in agility, the North Carolina product is nasty and shows the ability to pull and seal in the run game and anchor in pass protection.
Round 5 – Max Bullough – MLB – Michigan State
It’s so easy to forget that linebacker remains a work in progress for the Bears, especially in the middle. Max Bullough isn’t quite the athlete Emery would hone in on, but he’s not a statue either. The Michigan State captain was the heart and soul of the best defense in college football. He’s vocal on the field, extremely intelligent and shows the strength and toughness to tackle and take on blocks. What he lacks in range he makes up for in anticipation.
Round 6 (f/TB) – Jeff Mathews – QB – Cornell
When Marc Trestman was asked about what he expected from a backup quarterback, the first two keys he looked for are efficiency and locker room presence, followed closely by good decision-making. Coming out of a smaller program at Cornell the buzz on Jeff Mathews has gone through a roller coaster. There is no question he boasts great size (6’4″) and plenty of arm talent. At the same time he’s not very mobile. What makes him a Trestman type of guy is his demeanor. Mathews is highly intelligent and vocal with teammates. Scouts have referred to him as another coach on the field, which is exactly what the Bears will want at the backup spot. Somebody who will be ready to play right away.
Round 6 – Marion Grice – RB – Arizona State
Matt Forte is still a Pro Bowl stud but he’s also turning 28-years old. Dangerous territory for a running back. The depth behind him thinned considerably when the team parted ways with Michael Bush. They need to load up the depth chart with young legs. Marion Grice slipped down boards due to an injury last season but his viability in the pros remains promising. He does his best work running on the perimeter where his vision and cutback ability become major assets. He has good speed and soft hands to receive out of the backfield. With some coaching to improve his pass protection and route running he can become that relief player for Forte the Chicago Bears need.