The Chicago Bears enter the 2021 offseason in an awkward position. They ended the season on a hot streak and made the playoffs, but they also feel like a team that needs a serious rebuild and currently lacking third and fourth-round NFL Draft picks. In this 7-round Bears 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Chicago finally finds a quarterback of the future to build around, and adds an elite piece to their secondary.
Bears Pre-Senior Bowl 7-Round 2021 NFL Mock Draft
- Round 1, Pick 11: Zach Wilson, QB, BYU *
- Round 2, Pick 52: Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, FSU
- Round 5, Pick 147: Thayer Munford, OT, Ohio State
- Round 6, Pick 178: Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC
- Round 7, Pick 194: Kylen Granson, TE, SMU
- Bears receive 11th overall selection in 2021 NFL Draft from the New York Giants
- Giants receive 20th and 83rd overall selection in 2021 NFL Draft and Chicago’s first and third-round selections in the 2022 NFL draft.
Bears 2021 7-round NFL Mock Draft pick-by-pick analysis
Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
The top priority in this 7-round Bears 2021 NFL Mock Draft is finding a true franchise quarterback. The Windy City has been starving for that commodity for too long, and Zach Wilson could fill that void.
At quarterback, Chicago currently has Mitch Trubisky and Nick Foles, but neither is an appealing option. Trubisky showed flashes down the stretch, but that feels like fool’s gold. He is also set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. Meanwhile, Nick Foles was a downgrade from the first-round bust. Unfortunately, his dead cap hit is big enough to keep him around for 2021 in all likelihood.
As a result, the Bears can’t get the quarterback problem down the road anymore, and they won’t have the money to target a high-end veteran.
Enter Zach Wilson, the franchise quarterback the Bears have been searching for since Sid Luckman retired.
Zach Wilson’s strengths and weaknesses
Wilson has a terrific arm and, at times, shows a ridiculous level of accuracy. He’s also poised in the pocket and knows how to manipulate the protection to keep a play alive. That will be a key trait for any Bears quarterback as Chicago’s offensive line rebuilds.
That mix of arm talent and functional mobility is the tantalizing aspect of Zach Wilson. It makes him appear like a premium version of what Baker Mayfield was as a prospect.
There are plenty of reasonable concerns about Wilson, though. Although he has peaks of supernatural accuracy, he can also hit cold stretches where he’ll force pass catchers to make large adjustments for the ball. His mechanics aren’t fully polished either, and his base can be too wide.
However, those knocks aren’t enough to make the Bears second-guess this pick. He fits everything else they would want in a franchise quarterback. Landing him with the eleventh pick is a steal.
Trading up to draft Zach Wilson
In order to draft Wilson in this 7-round Bears 2021 NFL Mock Draft, Chicago needed to trade up.
Some might argue against trading up, as the Bears are still recovering from trading away several picks to the Las Vegas Raiders for Khalil Mack, but this is different.
This is a trade to land the type of franchise QB Chicago hasn’t had in half a century. Not a trade to land one of the best defensive players in the NFL.
As Wilson started falling down the draft board, the Bears attempted trades with the Eagles and Panthers before finally agreeing to a deal with the Giants. In return for the 11th selection overall, the Bears sent back their first and third-round picks from both this year’s and next year’s draft.
That’s fairly expensive for moving nine slots, but it allows Chicago to keep their second-round picks for each of the next two seasons. It also allows them to start building fresh around a talented young quarterback.
Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, Florida State
The Bears secondary has a ton of pieces to build around moving forward. They have an elite free safety in Eddie Jackson, and two marquee cornerbacks in Kyle Fuller and rookie Jaylon Johnson. However, the safety spot next to Jackson remains a hole.
Both of their top two strong safeties, Tashaun Gipson and Deon Bush, are replacement-level. They’re also on expiring contracts, and it’s unlikely Chicago brings them back.
Selecting Hamsah Nasirildeen in this 7-round Bears 2021 NFL Mock Draft would be an upgrade there and give Chicago a beyond-promising future in the secondary.
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You can’t emphasize enough how special Nasirildeen is from an athletic standpoint. He’s twitched up and has great long speed to carry receivers or tight ends downfield. Nasirildeen also has a well-built frame that is lengthy yet sturdy.
On top of the athleticism, Nasirildeen has also shown great versatility on the Seminoles defense. He’s played well over the top, in the slot, and down in the box, though he’s at his best around the football. His ability as a striker flying downfield to blow up a running back is particularly impressive.
The red flags with Nasirildeen are fairly minor, making it surprising to see him projected in the second round. He tore his ACL back in 2019, but has been healthy this season. He also relies heavily on his athleticism to make plays in coverage, as well as when pass rushing. So, he’ll have to refine the more technical aspects of those roles at the next level.
Thayer Munford, OT, Ohio State
Chicago’s next selection isn’t until the fifth round because of their trade with New York. However, they still manage to land an exciting developmental tackle prospect.
Thayer Munford out of Ohio State already looks like an NFL tackle at 6-foot-6, 325 pounds. He also has desirable arm length and solid movement skills, which, when paired with his mammoth-like size, will make him a headache for opposing edge rushers.
Munford’s problem is that there aren’t many promising traits outside of that fantastic set of tools. His feet are rough and he struggles to plant, which doesn’t make sense considering the aforementioned frame. He’s also consistently late with his hands, which digs him into a hole he doesn’t have the skills to dig out of yet.
Nevertheless, Munford makes sense for the Bears as a fifth-round tackle. You’ll rarely see a tackle with this athletic profile fall this far in the draft, and between Bobby Massie and Charles Leno, Chicago has starters in place that will allow them to develop Munford.
Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC
Chicago will almost certainly lose Allen Robinson to free agency, so they’ll have to try and find some way to replace him in this 7-round Bears 2021 NFL Mock Draft.
Ideally, they would target a wide receiver sooner in the draft, but the board didn’t fall that way this time around. With that said, landing Tyler Vaughns in the sixth round isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Vaughns doesn’t have game-breaking speed, but he’s shown off high-end hands and toughness. He’ll attack the ball in the air and does a good job of surviving contact to bring the catch in. Vaughns is also a smart player that has shown the ability to operate both outside and in the slot, and he knows where to attack the defense.
The concern Chicago should have with Vaughns is he struggles to separate, which is troubling. He can’t separate with pure athleticism alone through either speed or power. He isn’t an elite route runner, either. As a result, he has to fight tooth-and-nail for almost every catch. That’s a strategy that will be much harder to succeed with in the NFL than it was in the Pac-12.
Kylen Granson, TE, SMU
The Bears did just spend their top pick in the 2020 NFL Draft on tight end Cole Kmet, but Kylen Granson is too good to pass up here.
Granson is an athletic “move” tight end that could replace and potentially upgrade from Jimmy Graham. He won’t offer much as a blocker, but he’s a matchup nightmare that could quickly become a go-to red zone option.
However, Granson does play more like a thick wide receiver than a tight end, making him fairly one-dimensional. Also, he doesn’t have the size advantage you would like to see from a tight end of this style.
If Chicago selected Granson, this could allow Kmet to be their do-it-all inline tight end that’s a focal point of the offense, while Granson is utilized as the field-stretching counter punch.
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