As the 2021 NFL Draft approaches, speculation around who the Bears will draft increases. Chicago has many holes to fill, particularly on offense. Meanwhile, their defense, while the Bears strong suit, lacks depth and needs revitalization at multiple positions. Here is The Game Haus’ first Bears mock draft of the offseason.
Pick 20: WR Rashod Bateman, Minnesota
With star wide receiver Allen Robinson likely leaving Chicago in free agency, the Bears need a strong wide receiver to line up opposite Darnell Mooney. Rashod Bateman has the talent and consistency to be that guy.
The 6-foot-2, 209-pound junior can do it all. He is a superb route runner with good hands while wide open and going for contested catches. Just like Allen Robinson, he can line up outside or in the slot and dominate at either position.
Even better for Chicago, Bateman has no history of injuries throughout his time in Minnesota. For a Bears receiving corps that lacks depth, this is extremely important.
There is a bit of unknown around Bateman as he opted out of the 2020 season. However, Bateman has all the tools to become a dangerous weapon in the NFL. With Allen Robinson likely departing, any quarterback that the Bears acquire will need better weapons than what Chicago currently has, and Bateman could be that guy.
Pick 52: OT Liam Eichenberg, Notre Dame
The Bears have a tendency of targeting Notre Dame products offensively, particularly up front. Center Sam Mustipher, guard Alex Bars and tight end Cole Kmet are Notre Dame alumni, all of whom started at their positions for a large part of the 2020 season. In the 2021 NFL Draft, Chicago continues this pattern by drafting offensive tackle Liam Eichenberg out of Notre Dame.
Chicago desperately need offensive line help, especially at the tackle position. Eichenberg, an experienced redshirt senior, could be a starter right from the get-go. He has great football IQ and is extremely consistent. Eichenberg has played every game on Notre Dame’s stellar offensive line since becoming a starter, demonstrating his durability and consistency.
Eichenberg’s versatility and awareness on the offensive line makes him a great pick for Chicago. He could be an impact player from Day 1 and hopefully build up Chicago’s offense, just like Bateman before him.
Pick 83: CB Kary Vincent Jr., Louisiana State
The Bears need a replacement for Buster Skrine at the nickel back position. Skrine is quickly aging, as shown by his performance in the 2020 NFL season. Before the concussion he sustained in the latter half of the year, he was a major weakness in Chicago’s secondary. By drafting Kary Vincent Jr., the Bears could fill that weakness.
Vincent opted out of the 2020 Season due to COVID-19, but in LSU’s 2019 Championship run, he was a key part of the secondary as starting nickelback.
Vincent has the tools to become an impact player in the NFL. He has great speed and explosiveness. In coverage, he can stay tight on his man and is a true ballhawk, racking up four interceptions and nine pass deflections in 2019.
However, there are some questions about his size. Vincent is a measly 5-foot-10 and185 pounds. As a nickel back, size is a bit less important than it is at other positions, but it is still an area of worry.
Kary Vincent Jr. has the potential to become a great replacement to Buster Skrine and young addition to the aging Bears defense. His size and readiness after missing a year of football could be problems, but Vincent has much upside.
Pick 165: ED Victor Dimukeje, Duke
Unlike Bears star edge rusher Khalil Mack, Victor Dimukeje is not an insane athlete or likely to take over at any given moment. He may be overlooked for his size at just 6-foot-3 without any athletic aspects of his game jumping off the board. However, he has all the tools to become a solid starter opposite Mack on the defensive line.
Dimukeje is a good football player with high football intelligence. He does a good job of staying in his gaps on defense and keeping outside contain when necessary.
Beyond his ability to stay disciplined and effective in the run game, Dimukeje is an above average pass rusher. He is crafty in his moves and has a clear plan for how he is going to get by the offensive line.
Victor Dimukeje does not stand out like many of the other edge defenders in the 2021 NFL Draft. However, he definitely could fix the problem that the Bears have had opposite Khalil Mack on defense.
Pick 205: TE Tre’ McKitty, Georgia
The Bears lack depth at tight end. Last offseason, they signed veteran Jimmy Graham and drafted Cole Kmet in the second round to patch up the position. Both Graham and Kmet played well last season, earning a spot on the 2021 roster, assuming Graham isn’t cut due to his expensive contract. However, Chicago should not stop trying to improve the position.
Beyond Kmet and Graham, the Bears really have no one at tight end other than a bunch of scrubs. By drafting McKitty, they could fix this.
McKitty’s stats are not eye-popping by any means. In the 2020 season, he had just six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown. However, the Georgia product was a really strong blocker.
In the Senior Bowl, he made more of a case to be drafted. He was named the best tight end over the week and made impact plays, such as the one handed catch below:
Tre’ McKitty 👀 pic.twitter.com/TUSPkTDpCL
— Ben Glassmire (@BenGlassmireNFL) January 27, 2021
If McKitty can consistently make catches like this, his hands are clearly better than what the statistics show. McKitty could enter the season being Chicago’s third-string tight end, being groomed to be second-string upon Jimmy Graham’s impending retirement or free agency.
Pick 220: C Michal Menet, Penn State
Chicago needs more depth on the offensive line. With Michal Menet, a player able to play both guard and center, they could find it.
Menet has been described as very consistent, smart and a good leader. Many scouts believe that he could become a future starter on the offensive line, a great label for someone projected to go on Day 3 of the draft.
Menet has flaws, such as his poor length. However, he has a fairly high ceiling and floor for a 6th round pick. Menet, an All-Big Ten Third Team selection, could add depth to a Bears offensive line that needs it.
Pick 225: QB Dustin Crum, Kent State
Dustin Crum quietly put up outstanding statistics in the past two years at Kent State. In his junior and shortened senior year, he threw for 32 passing touchdowns and just four interceptions in 17 games. Over that stretch, he also ran for 947 yards and 10 touchdowns. The man was a living stat machine.
Crum is skilled both in and out of the pocket, something Chicago has not had at quarterback in a long time. He is confident, smart and seems to be a great leader. It is frankly surprising that he is so low on draft boards, as even though he has faced relatively easy competition in the Mid-American Conference, he has dominated in college.
Dustin Crum has the tools to become a pro quarterback, something the Bears desperately need. It is unlikely that a sixth round quarterback’s skills translate to the NFL, but don’t tell that to a certain 43 year old that just won his seventh Super Bowl.
Pick 230: WR Jalen Virgil, Appalachian State
The Bears seventhth round pick in the draft goes to athletic freak Jalen Virgil. Chicago, as mentioned before, has little depth at the wide receiver position. Virgil, despite being a late round pick, has potential to succeed in the NFL at that position and as a special teamer.
A large part of Virgil’s potential stems from his athletic ability. He has an average height of just 6-foot-1, but at 210 pounds with a bench press max of 405 pounds, he is extremely strong and is able to outmuscle defenders.
Virgil’s explosiveness and speed jumps off the charts as well. He has a projected vertical jump of 40.5 inches and broad jump of 10’11”. Upon converting Virgil’s 10.29 second 100 meter dash, his 40 yard dash time sits at a rapid 4.35 seconds.
Jalen Virgil, beyond being a solid receiver, is a top-notch athlete. The track star’s athleticism could not only help the Bears offensively, as that kind of strength and speed is a good balance for a special teamer. Virgil has great potential as a seventh round draft pick and could help Chicago both as a wide receiver and on special teams.
“From Our Haus to Yours”