Chicago Bears Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Cole Kmet, TE, Cole Kmet – Round 2
The Bears entered the 2020 NFL Draft with nine tight ends on their roster and having just spent money in free agency to sign Jimmy Graham, but Ryan Pace, their general manager neglected other needs to add their 10th tight end in Cole Kmet. Pace has not had a good track record at the position, as Adam Shaheen is bordering on bust status and Trey Burton did not prove to be worth the money the Bears gave him in free agency. Kmet has the ability to help improve the position, and he has a shot at being a solid starter early in his career.

Sources from other teams felt that Kmet is a big tight end with the body of a Y – blocking – tight end. They say he is a typical Y athlete and not special in the passing game. He will make the occasional play as an underneath receiver, but will struggle to separate in the NFL due to a lack of speed to be a true receiving threat. Kmet has good hands and presents a big target for his quarterback while providing a size mismatch against safeties in man coverage.

As a blocker, sources say that Kmet is not a killer in the run game and needs to improve. They felt he was better than other tight end prospects in the 2020 NFL Draft, but they did not see him as a first-round talent.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Graham is a disappointment as a free agent addition. He is on the downside of his career and has always been a limited blocker. Quickly, Kmet could take his place as the feature tight end for the Bears. Kmet has some limitations, so I don’t see him being one of the top tight ends in the league like a Travis Kelce, but I think Kmet could develop into being a decent starter for Chicago.

2019: Riley Ridley, WR
2018: James Daniels, C
2017: Eddie Jackson, S
2016: Jonathan Bullard, DE
2015: Eddie Goldman, DT
2014: Kyle Fuller, CB
2013: Jonathan Bostic, LB

Most Likely To Bust

The Bears were without picks in the first, third and fourth rounds, so the boom pick and bust were difficult to project. I do not think that second-round tight end Cole Kmet or cornerback Jaylon Johnson are likely to bust. I think at least they could be serviceable backup and rotational players. If a fifth-round pick does not work out, that is not a true bust because the vast majority of players picked after the second round don’t stick in the NFL. Even the odds on second-round picks are about 50-50, so saying a fifth-round pick is a bust is not really credible. Now that the picks in the Khalil Mack trade have been used, Chicago’s picks should be more worthy of inspection in 2021.

2019: David Montgomery, RB
2018: Joel Iyiegbuniwe, LB
2017: Mitch Trubisky, QB
2016: Cody Whitehair, G
2015: Hroniss Grasu, C
2014: Ka’Deem Carey, RB
2013: Kyle Long, G

Potential Boom Pick

Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah – Round 2
The Bears were without picks in the first, third and fourth rounds, so the boom pick and bust were difficult to project. However of their pair of second-round picks, Johnson seems like he has the most boom-pick potential. The Bears needed cornerback help entering the 2020 NFL Draft, and with their potent pass rush, I think there’s the possibility that Johnson ends up being a steal for them.

Johnson (6-0, 193) is a gritty defender for the NFL. With his physical demeanor, Johnson is an aggressive defender who really battles receivers. He challenges wideouts with his size and wins on 50-50 passes by wanting it more. His aggressive style of play can also be seen in Johnson being very dangerous in zone coverage, where he is quick to drive on the ball. He has good vision to read plays and breaks hard downhill to break up passes or jump a route to snatch the pass way. Johnson has impressive ball skills and is very ball aware.

Johnson is extremely stiff, so he could be limited to being a zone corner in the NFL. He is not a corner who can flip his hips and run. Given his tight hips and ankles, Johnson should not be in a scheme that has him playing lots of off-man coverage. The hip tightness is a concern for press-man technique as well. Johnson has a thin build with a skinny lower body, so getting pushed around by NFL receivers could be a problem. Hence, playing mostly zone coverage could be his best fit. Fortunately for Johnson, Chuck Pagano runs a lot of zone coverage, so Johnson should be a good fit in Chicago’s scheme.

The Bears moved on from Prince Amukamara this offseason and need another corner to go with Kyle Fuller. Buster Skrine is limited to being a nickel slot corner, while Artie Bruns was a bust for the Steelers. Hence, Johnson does not have a depth chart that will be tough to overcome. With Chicago’s tough front seven and Kyler Fuller in house to take on the No. 1 receivers, Johnson could be in a situation that turns him into a boom pick.

2019: None
2018: Roquan Smith, LB
2017: Adam Shaheen, TE
2016: Leonard Floyd, LB
2015: Kevin White, WR
2014: Will Sutton, DT
2013: Khaseem Greene, LB

Future Depth Player

Trevis Gipson, DE, Tulsa – Round 5
As a late pick, Gipson is expected to be a backup, and obviously the Bears don’t need him to be a starting edge rusher with their high-priced veterans at the position. Still, Gipson (6-3, 259) has some skill at the point of attack, and he was a good quarterback hunter for Tulsa last year, notching eight sacks. He has some quickness and functional strength to battle tackles. While Gipson has some limitations, he could be a solid rotational backup who helps keep Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn fresh for crunch time.

2019: Kerrith Whyte, DL
2018: Bilal Nichols, DL
2017: Tarik Cohen, RB
2016: Nick Kwiatkoski, LB
2015: Jeremy Langford, RB
2014: David Fales, QB
2013: Cornelius Washington, DE

Walt’s 2020 NFL Draft Grades:

43. Cole Kmet, TE, Notre Dame – O’BRIEN Grade
Ryan Pace needs help. I don’t understand why he thinks he needs to spend so many high resources on tight ends, especially when none of them are close to elite. He paid tons of money to Jimmy Graham this offseason, only to select a tight end in the second round? Why!? And why didn’t he pick the tight end some teams had higher on their boards, Adam Trautman? Kmet was not the consensus best player at his position, and Pace could’ve obtained someone similar in the third round, or perhaps someone slightly worse early on Day 3. This is an “F” grade all the way. Pace needs to go.

50. Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah – A Grade
What, not another tight end? Ryan Pace made up for his latest mistake with Jaylon Johnson, who easily could’ve been chosen toward the end of the opening round. Johnson has great instincts and ball skills, and he’ll help a secondary that regressed a bit in 2019. I love this value.

155. Trevis Gipson, DE, Tulsa – B+ Grade
Thank goodness Ryan Pace didn’t draft another tight end. Trevis Gipson was a highly productive player from Tulsa who possesses good athleticism. He has nice potential, and there’s a chance he could become a starter across from Khalil Mack once the Robert Quinn experiment fails.

163. Kindle Vildor, CB, Georgia Southern – B Grade
Kindle Vildor helped himself with a strong combine, and I had him slotted in this range. Chicago’s secondary wasn’t as good as it was in 2018 because of Bryce Hall’s departure, and there’s a chance Vildor could end up starting in the slot.

173. Darnell Mooney, WR, Tulane – C Grade
I don’t know why the Bears traded up for Darnell Mooney. He’s someone I rarely had in my mock. He has potential, however, as a potentially potent downfield threat. Still, it didn’t seem necessary to give up a resource for him.

226. Arlington Hambright, OT, Colorado – C- Grade
I never imagined that Arlington Hambright, who sounds like a Harry Potter character, would ever be drafted. He should’ve been a UDFA, but I can at least appreciate the Bears addressing their diminished offensive line.

227. Lachavious Simmons, G, Tennessee State – D Grade
I’ll be honest, I never heard of this man. I’m not even sure if he’s a real player. Certainly, he could have been obtained in UDFA, but it’s the seventh round, so it doesn’t matter too much.

2020 NFL Draft Team Grade: D . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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