The 2016 NFL Scouting Combine will take place in Indianapolis later this week, and with all 32 teams eagerly waiting to see what this year’s top prospects are capable of, mock draft season is in full swing.
The Chicago Bears, who will be picking in the 11th spot when the NFL Draft kicks off in April in the Windy City, have a ton of needs on their roster, but in a sampling of six different mock drafts for our first edition of “Mock Draft Roundup,” there is one area that seems to be leading the pack right now:
The team’s defensive front seven.
Here is who six different draft experts have picked out for the Bears before the Combine this weekend:
NFL.com (2/22): Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith
Going into Notre Dame’s Fiesta Bowl showdown against Ohio State, Smith was viewed as one of the top one or two players available in this year’s draft class, but two torn knee ligaments have cast that status into doubt.
There is optimism that Smith will be able to make a full recovery from the injury, and if he can, he could add a tremendous new weapon into the Bears’ defensive arsenal. He racked up 114 tackles for the Fighting Irish in 2015, and if scouting profiles end up being accurate, he could potentially fill any role among the four linebacker slots in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense.
NFL Draft Geek (2/22): Alabama DE A’Shawn Robinson
An interesting pick considering that the Bears seem pretty well set at nose tackle for the foreseeable future, but Robinson does have the capability to kick to the defensive end spot, and the Bears could certainly use help in that regard.
The questions about whether he can be an effective player on passing downs will certainly dog him, but he’s a really solid run stopper, and the Bears could use a player like him.
CBS Sports (2/22): UCLA LB Myles Jack
Like Smith, Jack saw his season end prematurely because of an injury, but he still has the make-up that absolutely makes scouts drool. He is one of the most athletic players available on the board, and the Bears would certainly have a case to make that he’s the best available when they pick in the 11th slot.
The big question for the Bears will be whether or not they fell comfortable with Jack playing in a 3-4 system. His athleticism should help him ease into that set if the Bears pick him, according to CBS, but it’s still something worth considering with Fangio at the helm on defense.
Fox Sports (2/22): Eastern Kentucky DE Noah Spence
Make-up concerns are certainly present with Spence, but his talent is undeniable. The Bears are in desperate need of pass rushers, and Spence would certainly qualify as a helpful influence if he can give satisfactory answers to a rough history of bad decision making.
Walter Football (2/17): Notre Dame OT Ronnie Stanley
The lone draft selected that has the Bears picking an offensive player, this pick would still make a ton of sense for Chicago. Jermon Bushrod’s departure leaves the team with question marks at left tackle, and if the team isn’t comfortable moving Kyle Long over there (a hesitance that absolutely would make sense after Long struggled in his transition to right tackle), then Stanley could potentially fill that gap.
ESPN’s Mel Kiper, Jr. (2/17): Notre Dame LB Jaylon Smith