Chicago Bears 2017 NFL Mock Draft: Go Big Or Go Home

December 31, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Clemson Tigers during the first half of the the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

December 31, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes safety Malik Hooker (24) celebrates after intercepting a pass against the Clemson Tigers during the first half of the the 2016 CFP semifinal at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears know their task at hand. It’s to plug every single hole possible on the roster in order to compete for the playoffs in 2017.

Sounds like an impossible task considering they just finished 3-13, their worst record since 1969. Nonetheless the objectives are clear enough. Find a quarterback. Improve the secondary. Add more weapons. Simple in that respect but difficult to execute. Much will depend on how they do in free agency but high noon is going to be the NFL draft. Here is the latest breakdown of how it might end up going for them.

1st Round

1

Malik Hooker

S, Ohio State

The NFL can often become a league too set in its ways. Teams are so narrow-minded in their draft approach that they can often miss great players because “that’s just not what you’re supposed to do.” Such is the common saying about taking defensive backs in the top five of a draft. Problem is that recent history counters that argument. Since 2000, there have been six defensive backs taken in the top five. Four of them went to multiple Pro Bowls.

This 2017 draft class is stacked with that caliber of talent. Chicago hasn’t had a top quality safety on its defense for over a decade. Malik Hooker showcased how special he could be this past season with seven interceptions and three defensive touchdowns. The fact he did it playing through two separate injuries makes it all the more impressive. He is a true ball hawk with size and speed. Everything they could want from the position.

Sep 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates with fans as he leaves the field after defeating the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Cardinals 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 11, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) celebrates with fans as he leaves the field after defeating the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Cardinals 23-21. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2nd Round

Patriots get #36 pick and 2nd rounder in 2018

Bears get QB Jimmy Garoppolo
2

Jimmy Garoppolo

QB, New England

Rumors have really picked up around what the Chicago Bears are going to do at quarterback. One would expect them to look at the draft to solve such a problem, but it’s never that easy. They sit in an awkward position. Not only are two teams with huge QB needs ahead of them in the top five picks, there is also the reality that all four of the best quarterbacks in this class could be long gone even before the second round begins.

That is likely why the Bears have since been connected to New England Patriots backup Jimmy Garoppolo. A trade for him makes so much sense. He’s an Illinois native, learned under an all-time great in Tom Brady and is just 25-years old. Bringing him home to take over the Bears could be the move that jumpstarts the next era for this franchise. He’s got good size, mobility, a strong arm and a lightning quick release with almost pinpoint accuracy.

Oct 22, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Chris Evans (12) loose his helmet after he is tackled by Illinois Fighting Illini defensive lineman Carroll Phillips (6) in the first half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 22, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines running back Chris Evans (12) loose his helmet after he is tackled by Illinois Fighting Illini defensive lineman Carroll Phillips (6) in the first half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

3rd Round

3

Carroll Phillips

OLB, Illinois

People have become so focused on how potentially great the outside linebackers could be for the Bears defense that it’s easy to overlook how fragile that part of the depth chart is. Leonard Floyd and Pernell McPhee both have injury concerns following them into 2017. To top it off Willie Young, their unheralded success story turns 32-years old this season. So there is no harm in this team continuing to add at that position.

So much hype gets heaped on his teammate Dawuane Smoot, but the reality is Carroll Phillips is the better edge rusher coming out of Illinois. The numbers prove that. He’s adept at bending the edge and exploding into the backfield to get the quarterback. His athleticism and use of hands have worked wonders when used in tandem. His body type is classic 3-4 outside linebacker. The fact he’s a homegrown talent from Illinois? Icing on the cake.

Sep 3, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Jake Butt (88) catches a touchdown pass while defended by Utah Utes defensive back Jason Thompson (3) and defensive back Andre Godfrey (7) during the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 3, 2015; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Michigan Wolverines tight end Jake Butt (88) catches a touchdown pass while defended by Utah Utes defensive back Jason Thompson (3) and defensive back Andre Godfrey (7) during the second half at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Utah won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

4th Round

4

Jake Butt

TE, Michigan

Sometimes life can be pretty cruel to a player but generous to a team. Jake Butt is a perfect example. The Michigan tight end looked like he was a destined to be a lock for the top 50 picks. Instead a poorly-timed knee injury in the Orange Bowl put his stock in serious flux. Odds are teams won’t want to risk a pick on him too early. Thus he could very easily fall to early Day 3 where the Bears eagerly pounce. If he heals properly, they’ve just solved a huge issue at tight end.

4th Round (via BUF)

5

Dwayne Thomas

CB, LSU

The Bears are going to be hunting for plenty of help at the cornerback position. Odds are free agency will be a major source, but don’t expect them to ignore a strong draft class as well. Dwayne Thomas is lost in the shadow of teammate Tre’Davious White, but LSU is a factory for quality corners. Thomas isn’t getting much attention due to his modest production but the tape reveals a corner with size and range who can play inside or outside.
2017 NFL Draft Stacy Coley

Oct 8, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Miami Hurricanes wide receiver Stacy Coley (3) carries the ball during the second half against the Florida State Seminoles at Hard Rock Stadium. FSU won 20-19. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

5th Round

6

Stacy Coley

WR, Miami Fl.

Whether the Bears retain Alshon Jeffery or not, they have to think about adding more to the wide receiver position. Especially with a new quarterback coming in. Garoppolo tends to like quicker receivers who understand how to create separation and run tight routes like in New England. Stacy Coley showed he could do plenty of that at Miami. Though a modest 6’1″ he was a consistently productive and reliable target for the Hurricanes. He could be the potential successor to Eddie Royal.

7th Round

7

Austin Rekhow

P, Idaho

Punters are people too. Pretty important people as it turns out. Teams that have good ones tend to win the field position battle, and that leads to more success on offense. Chicago could definitely use more of that after living through mediocre years with Pat O’Donnell as the starter. They kept eyes on Idaho standout Austin Rekhow and for good reason. He has a powerful right leg that has helped him average over 45 yards per punt in college. To top it off he doubles as a kicker too, going 26-of-29 in 2016.

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