Round 1: QB Mitch Trubisky, North Carolina
Beyond Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett, there are no consensus No. 2 or No. 3 prospects in the 2017 NFL Draft class. The Browns are expected to select Garrett with the top overall pick and then things will get interesting when the San Francisco 49ers pick at No. 2 overall. If the 49ers pass on a quarterback, then it might be difficult for Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace to pass on Trubisky, whom I believe is the top passer in this year's class.
Is Trubisky the third best prospect in the 2017 class? In my opinion, no, but I do think he has the potential to be an above average starting quarterback in the NFL, for a number of reasons.
Trubisky has a strong arm, decent accuracy and very good mobility. He comes from a shotgun-based, one-read system at UNC, so he'll need time to adjust to the NFL game but the Bears are paying Mike Glennon $15 million next season, so Trubisky would have all of 2017 to soak up Dowell Loggains' playbook. By 2018, Trubisky would be ready to start and if he develops into a solid pro-level quarterback, then he's worth the No. 3 overall selection, regardless of whether or not he's the best player available.
Many mock drafts have four to five quarterbacks coming off the board before the Bears pick in the second round. If Pace passes on Trubisky at No. 3, he'll either be forced to trade back into the first round to select one of the top passers or he'll be stuck choosing between Davis Webb and Brad Kaaya in the second round. When considering the importance of the quarterback position, and the shaky job security of both Pace and head coach John Fox, selecting Trubisky could be a franchise-altering move, one that could benefit the team far greater than any defensive lineman or secondary prospect.
Round 2: CB Adoree Jackson, USC
Jackson is the most versatile player in this draft, and arguably one of its most athletic as well. He played cornerback, running back, wide receiver, punt returner and kick returner for the Trojans. In 2016, he won the Jim Thorpe Award and was named first-team All-Pac-12 and first-team All-American (5 INTs, 11 PBUs, 4 return TDs). Jackson has 4.42 speed and outstanding quickness, with vastly improved ball skills. He's also the best return man in this class, one who could elevate what has been an area of considerable weakness for the Bears the past four seasons. Jackson is only 5-10, so he'll likely be relegated to a nickelback role but in today's NFL, slot corners are essentially starters.
With Jackson, the Bears would get a starting nickelback, a part-time contributor on offense with game-breaking potential every time he touches the ball, and a top-tier kick and punt returner. Pace can't go wrong with Jackson in the second round.
Round 3: S Marcus Maye, Florida
Maye (6-0, 210) is a compact, hard-hitting safety. He's interchangeable, with the physicality to be a downhill presence in the box and the range to play centerfield. He was named a second-team All-American by USA TODAY following a stellar 2015 campaign (82 tackles, 6 PBUs, 2 INTs, 5 forced fumbles) but a broken arm cut his 2016 season short by four games, although he still earned second-team All-SEC honors. Maye has experience at nickel but he does struggle in man coverage (he allowed 10 TDs during his collegiate career) which is why he'll likely drop to the third round, where the Bears would be happy to snatch up an instinctive, ready-made starting safety.
Round 4: DE Tanoh Kpassagnon, Villanova
A relatively raw talent, Kpassagnon has a very high ceiling, with a scary blend of height, weight and speed (6-7, 289, 4.83 40-yard dash). In 2016, he had 21.5 tackles for loss and 11.0 sacks. Despite his numbers, Kpassagnon is far from refined as a pass rusher and his arsenal is limited. He's also not a natural bender, which could force him to reduce inside on passing downs. No matter his role, Kpassagnon has elite size and natural athleticism, which could greatly benefit Chicago's front seven in the long-term.
Round 4: WR Mack Hollins, North Carolina
With the Bears selecting Trubisky in the first round, Pace follows up by drafting his new quarterback's favorite collegiate target. Hollins has great size (6-4, 221) and good speed (4.53). He has very good acceleration, allowing to reach top speed faster than your typical long-stride receiver. Hollins has the ability to stretch defenses over the top and his size makes him a weapon in the red zone (20 TDs in 71 career catches at UNC). Hollins is a one-dimensional vertical threat who must refine the rest of his game but that's still good value in the fourth round. In addition, he was a four-year special teams captain who would provide immediate value in kick and punt coverage.
Round 5: K Zane Gonzalez, Arizona State
Gonzalez is a big-legged kicker who broke numerous Pac-12 kicking records during his collegiate career. He's accurate on field goals, particularly on kicks of 50-plus yards. He's also a touchback machine on kickoffs (75 percent for ASU). With the decline of Robbie Gould the past few years, the Bears have lacked stability at kicker. Gonzalez, who has the big leg needed to kick at windy Soldier Field, would solve a major area of weakness in Chicago.
Round 7: ILB Hardy Nickerson Jr., Illinois
The son of a former five-time Pro Bowl NFL linebacker, Nickerson's bloodlines and tackle production at Illinois (100 plus tackles in each of the past two seasons) are very attractive this late in the draft. He's not an imposing physical player or overly athletic, and he struggles to shed blocks, which could limit him to a special teams role in the NFL. In the seventh round, the Bears could do a lot worse than Nickerson.