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Schrock’s Bears NFL mock draft 3.0: How to build contender around Caleb Williams

Schrock’s Bears NFL mock draft 3.0: How to build contender around Caleb Williams originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Bears are going to draft Caleb Williams. That was always believed to be the case, but a week spent in Indianapolis at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine backed that up.

The Bears haven’t completely locked in the Williams decision yet, but all signs point to the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner being the selection at No. 1 overall.

If the Bears follow their expected course, the rest of the 2024 draft should be about giving Williams everything he needs to thrive. The USC star said he still wanted to find out if the Bears “want to win.” General manager Ryan Poles can show him that he does by surrounding him with the protection and playmakers.

Here’s my latest insider mock draft after a week spent in Indianapolis getting a feel for what the Bears are planning:

Round 1 (No. 1 overall via Carolina): Caleb Williams, QB, USC

The week at the combine only solidified the belief that the Bears will take Williams with the No. 1 overall pick.

Williams is an elite passer with an elastic arm who can make all throws from varied angles. He’s a quick processor with quick hands and quick feet who also has special playmaking ability when he goes off-script.

The Bears still need to do some homework on those around Williams to be comfortable that they have the infrastructure to support him as the No. 1 overall pick. Their first meeting with the USC star went well — almost all combine interviews do — and Williams was poised, polished, and confident in his meeting with the NFL media.

“He’s a franchise-changing prospect,” one NFC scout told NBC Sports Chicago at the combine. “Guys like Caleb Williams don’t often come around. They’d be foolish to pass on him. I don’t know if he’s generational, but he’s definitely the best quarterback prospect to come out since [Andrew] Luck. What’s the debate about?”

No debate needed. Williams is the quarterback who will lead the Bears into the future.

Trade

Bears receive: No. 20, No. 52
Steelers receive: No. 9, 2025 third-round pick

The best-case scenario for the Bears is for Rome Odunze or Malik Nabers to fall to No. 9. I have a hard time seeing that happen. If it does, I think the Bears will jump at the chance to grab an elite pass-catcher. If all three top receivers are off the board, the Bears can look to slide down and add much-needed Day 2 draft capital.

Poles moves down 11 spots and replenishes the second-round pick he surrendered for Montez Sweat.

Size, speed, and ball skills, Mitchell has all the tools to become a top-tier pass-catcher in the NFL. The Texas product is still putting it all together, but he performed well at the combine, posting a 4.34 40-yard dash with a 39.5-inch vertical.

Mitchell has an instance catch radius and is proficient in breaking tackles and racking up yards after the catch. He has to polish up his route-running, but he can become a top-flight wide receiver if he puts the work in.

The Bears already have a true No. 1 receiver in DJ Moore. Mitchell has the talent to be a good No. 2 receiver off the bat with the potential to become a star.

Trade

Bears receive: 2024 third-round pick (No. 74 overall), 2025 fourth-round pick
Falcons receive: Justin Fields

The Bears plan to “do right” by Fields and move him once they finalize their quarterback plan.

Multiple sources told NBC Sports Chicago that the Falcons have already reached out to inquire about Fields. However, Fields is not believed to be Atlanta’s first option. The Falcons are very interested in both Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield. The Minnesota Vikings want to re-sign Cousins but don’t plan to give him fully guaranteed money.

I think Cousins will eventually land either in Minnesota or potentially Las Vegas, and the Falcons will send the Bears two Day 2 picks to acquire the Georgia native.

Round 2 (No. 52 overall via Pittsburgh): Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan

The Bears have spent most of the last two drafts loading up on the defensive side of the ball, and I expect them to polish off their defense in free agency.

That leaves them with the freedom to stock the cupboard around Williams with young, electric playmakers.

The Bears get their Z receiver in Mitchell but still have a need for another pass-catcher.

In Wilson, the Bears get an explosive athlete with good hands. Wilson has great post-catch acceleration and figures to be a starting-caliber slot on Day 1.

With DJ Moore, Cole Kmet, Mitchell, and Wilson, Williams should have all the weapons needed to have a smooth rookie season.

Round 3 (No. 74 overall via Atlanta): Sedrick Van Pran, IOL, Georgia

The Georgia center reminds scouts of Lloyd Cushenberry. He has strong hands, good quickness, and the special type of nasty that the Bears prioritize in offensive linemen.

Even if the Bears sign a veteran center in free agency (with guard versatility), locking in their long-term answer at center in Van Pran is a good use of the extra third-round pick they added via the Fields trade.

The Bears likely will sign a veteran center in free agency, but for now, it’s hard to pass up on Van Pran if he’s available in this spot.

Round 3 (No. 75 overall): Brandon Dorlus, DL, Oregon

The Bears have done well to add two receivers and a talented center around Williams with their first four picks.

The defense can’t be completely left out in the cold, though.

The whispers in Indianapolis are that the Bears will try to swing big on a veteran defensive lineman this offseason, either in free agency (Danielle Hunter, Christian Wilkins, Jonathan Greenard) or trade (Haason Reddick).

Even if they hook a big fish, they are in need of depth and versatility on the defensive line, especially after average rookie campaigns for Gervon Dexter and Zacch Pickens.

Dorlus has the length, quickness, and body control to be a good pass rusher at the NFL level. He can play the three-technique or play out on edge. Dorlus ran a 4.85 40-yard dash at the combine, with a 9-foot-3 inch broad jump and a 10-yard split of 1.71.

According to Kent Lee Platte, Dorlus recorded a RAS of 9.08 out of 10.

If it runs like a Bear and jumps like a Bear, it just might be a Bear.

Round 4 (No. 111 overall): Cade Stover, TE, Ohio State

Kmet is an ascending tight end, but the Bears need a reliable second tight end with Robert Tonyan hitting free agency.

Stover is a catch-first tight end with soft hands, good run-after-the-catch ability, and basketball athleticism.

Stover needs to get a little nastier as a blocker, but he would give offensive coordinator Shane Waldron a reliable No. 2 tight end to trot out in the passing game.

Round 4 (No. 123 overall): Cooper Beebe, IOL, Kansas State

Beebe played both guard and tackle during his career at Kansas State. He plays with great strength and power. He’s a high-IQ offensive lineman with a great motor.

Beebe ran a 5.03 40-yard dash with a 4.61 three-cone drill. His 9.7 RAS has him ranked 42 out of 1,434 guards to test since 1987, per Platte.

The Bears need versatile offensive line depth, and Beebe checks a lot of their boxes.

Round 5 (No. 143 overall): Isaac Guerendo, RB, Louisville

The Bears drafted Roschon Johnson in the fourth round last year, and the Texas product had a so-so year as part of a running back by committee with Khalil Herbert and D’Onta Foreman.

Foreman is a free agent, and Herbert is entering the last year of his contract.

Guerendo wowed at the combine, posting a 4.43 40-yard dash with a 41.5 vertical and a 10-foot-9-inch broad jump.

Guerendo posted a RAS of 9.98. He has all the physical tools the Bears covet and is a good and willing pass protector. Guerendo has a good blend of size and agility. His 4.43 speed doesn’t always show up on tape. His one-cut-and-go burst isn’t what you’d expect from a guy with that speed.

The Bears believe Johnson will be a staple of their backfield for the foreseeable future, but this could be Herbert’s final season in Chicago. Taking a fifth-round flier on a guy with Guerendo’s traits is worth the risk.

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