Is it too early to start doing mock drafts? Yes. Are we still going to start our series of mock drafts this season because they’re really fun? You bet.
Most college football teams have only played one or two games this year, but we’ve already gotten some standout performances from guys expected to be high draft picks this year. Other players started to put themselves on the radar and will look to build upon fast starts.
Meanwhile, the NFL season is set to begin Thursday night, so we have no idea where each team will land in next year’s draft order. Once again, we will not be deterred. Thankfully Pro Football Focus’ 2024 Mock Draft Tool is already up and running and they’ve slotted teams in where they believe they may finish. They’ve got the Bears picking at No. 8 since they own the Panthers’ first-round pick this year, and they have the Bears’ own pick coming in at No. 14. PFF’s mock draft tool also only goes up to the third-round right now, so three rounds is all we’ve got for ya.
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It’s also worth mentioning, these mock drafts are not an attempt to predict what the Bears will actually do when they’re back in the War Room next offseason. That’s impossible. These mock drafts are meant as an educational tool to explore some of the intriguing college prospects this season, and how those players may fit in Chicago.
Without further ado, here’s our first– and way too early– mock draft.
NO. 8: LAIATU LATU - EDGE - UCLA
Latu rushes from a two-point stance a lot, and the Bears like their edge rushers to use a three-point stance, but that little discrepancy shouldn’t matter. He’s fast, strong, can shed blocks and never quits on a play. Latu can kick inside to rush over the tackle or from the b-gap, and the Bears love that kind of versatility. Latu went nuts in Week 1 with three sacks plus a forced fumble.
NO. 14: KEON COLEMAN - WIDE RECEIVER - FLORIDA STATE
The Bears are set at wide receiver this year, but Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool are each playing on the final year of their respective deals. If they decide to part ways with either guy, they’ll be on the market for a new pass catcher, and Coleman could be a great fit. To start, his 6’4” frame gives Justin Fields a big target, and complements DJ Moore’s 6’0” size well. Scouts love Coleman’s ability to create separation and last Sunday he showed great contested catch en route to an incredible nine catch, 122-yard, three touchdown day.
NO. 46: SEDRICK VAN PRAN - CENTER - GEORGIA
Cody Whitehair or Lucas Patrick may be a serviceable option at center this season, but neither man can be considered a long term answer at the position. Protecting Justin Fields is paramount, so the Bears must continue to use valuable draft picks to improve their offensive line. Van Pran will be a three-year starter at center by season’s end, and he’ll be extremely battle tested going against stout SEC opponents. Further, Van Pran has impressed up to this point. In 920 pass rush opportunities, he’s only surrendered one sack and 22 pressures total, per PFF. Van Pran is not known for his athleticism in space, so he’s not a perfect fit for the Bears, but scouts say he plays well enough in zone blocking schemes similar to what the Bears deploy that he may be able to get by.
NO. 78: PRINCELY UMANMIELEN - EDGE - FLORIDA
This pick is a bit of a projection, but Umanmielen projects to take a step forward as one of the Gators’ primary pass rushers this season. In 25 career games he has 7.5 sacks, 13 TFLs and three forced fumbles. There’s no such thing as too many pass rushers, and with so many defensive linemen on one-year deals, or expiring deals, the Bears will need to continue to add talent to the front four.