Bears mock draft: Poles picks Will Anderson at No. 2


The Bears finally made it to the bye week, but while many teams use the rest to prepare for a second half playoff push there will be no postseason run in Chicago. So let’s use this time to look ahead to next year’s draft. The Bears have plenty of roster holes to fill, and they can go a variety of ways with their picks to make an instant impact for the franchise. So this is one of three iterations of a mini mock draft. There will be different players in each mock draft, not only to show the many ways things can go next year, but also to discuss more guys who could be headed to Halas Hall next season. For these purposes, the selections will be at No. 2, No. 57 and No. 66 since that is where the Bears are currently slated to pick, per Tankathon. Obviously that will change as the final month of the season plays out, but whatever, we’re doing this now. Also, these mini mocks will be limited to the first three rounds.


Anderson didn’t have as dominant a year in 2022 (10 sacks) as he did in 2021 (17.5 sacks), but he played well enough to win the Bronko Nagurski award, which recognizes the nation’s best defensive player. It’s an impressive feat that hasn’t happened since Pat Fitzgerald did it at Northwestern in 1995 and 1996. The Bears pass rush from the front four has been nonexistent for most of the year, and Anderson will bring a boost immediately. Anderson is stout against the run, too, and led the nation with 31 TFLs last season. He ranks 10th with 17 TFLs this year. Anderson showed good hands earlier this year, too, when he snatched a pass that bounced off a running back’s hands and returned it for a touchdown in Week 3. Anderson leaves Alabama with the second-most sacks in school history, with 34.5.


The Bears brought in Lucas Patrick to anchor their offensive line this year, but multiple injuries prevented him from playing the position for any significant amount of time. Instead, Patrick was forced into a swing guard role, and he didn’t look great doing it. So, the Bears take another swing at the position here, hoping Flossmoor native Schmitz is the long term answer at center. Minnesota ended the year 11th in the nation with 218.2 yards per game, and they did it with a good dose of read options, so Schmitz should feel at home in the Bears rushing attack. He boasts good athleticism and quickness in the run game to get up to the second level, but the thing Ryan Poles and Matt Eberflus will love the most is Schmitz’ finish. One can see Schmitz blocking through the whistle, and ending plays by driving his man into the ground. If there’s a knock on him, it’s that bigger defensive tackles can drive him backwards in pass protection, but for the most part he’s solid. The Gophers didn’t allow a sack in four games this season. Schmitz was named First-Team All-Big Ten this season.


Williams was playing so well in the Orange secondary, that he was generating buzz as a potential first-round pick in 2023. Unfortunately, Williams tore his ACL in October, so there’s a chance he slides on draft day. The Bears take a chance if he’s still on the board at the top of the third round since he’s displayed plenty of production that fits into Eberflus’ H.I.T.S. system. To start, Williams has a propensity to make athletic plays on the ball in pass coverage. He led the ACC in PBUs in both 2021 (10) and 2020 (12), and has come down with some highlight-reel interceptions. He can play both zone and man coverage well, too, which is important as the Bears have mixed both into their schemes this season. Finally, Williams is a sure tackler in the open field and has good recognition to pitch in on run defense.

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