Ryan Pace is in a difficult position as he enters the 2020 NFL draft.
Not because he’ll be making the picks in his pajamas, but because the team has several directions it could go and he can’t afford to get it wrong. This is make-or-break for Pace. He has built 90% of a Super Bowl roster, but has to overcome his biggest miss, the quarterback. After a disappointing 8-8 season in 2019, the Bears have plugged some holes, but simply need more actual difference makers.
With that in mind, the focus of the draft has to be finding impact players. While drafting for the future is a nice luxury, Pace can’t afford to worry about 2021 until it comes. He has to win in 2020 or the picks he makes for the future won’t matter.
With that thought, I put myself in Pace’s shoes. Having two top-50 picks gives the team ammunition to add two impact players. The problem, of course, is that they aren’t scheduled to pick again until the fifth round. They have serious needs at cornerback, wide receiver, right guard and safety. (One could add quarterback to that too, but the Bears seem intent on riding with the winner of the competition between Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky.)
Ideally, the Bears would get two sure starters — or favorites to start — and a third player who is at least in competition for a starting job. In the later rounds, they can look for depth and fill holes at offensive tackle, tight end, defensive line and elsewhere.
In order to more accurately file a mock draft for the Bears, I used the help of the mock draft simulator from Pro Football Focus. I went into the second round targeting a pool of players with the hopes that I could move back and come away with three of them.
That group included:
WR: Brandon Aiyuk, Denzel Mims, Jalen Reagor and KJ Hamler
OL: Josh Jones, Isaiah Wilson, Robert Hunt and Lloyd Cushenberry
CB: Trevon Diggs, Jaylon Johnson, A.J. Terrell and Reggie Robinson
S: Jeremy Chinn, Kyle Dugger, Grant Delpit or Antoine Winfield.
Here is how it played out:
Pick 43: Trade with Tampa Bay
Bears receive Picks 45 and 117
Bucs receive: Picks 43 and 196
Note: By moving back, however, the Bears missed top remaining cornerback prospect Jaylon Johnson, Utah.
Pick 45: K.J. Hamler, WR, Penn State
Hamler was one of the few remaining players out of my initial pool that was still available. With sub-4.3 speed, he’ll immediately move into the role previously played by Taylor Gabriel. Hands are the question with Hamler, which have some comparing him to Tedd Ginn Jr., not Tyreek Hill like the Bears would hope. But, his speed is so rare, the big plays will make up for the drops.