The Chicago Bears have 11 total picks in the 2008 NFL Draft: one in each of the seven rounds, an extra third-rounder after last year's trade with San Diego, and three compensatory choices in Round 7. In this version of JC's mock draft, the Midway Monsters load up on skill-position players early.
Round 1: No. 14
RB Rashard Mendenhall – Illinois
The Monsters of the Midway handed $17 million in guaranteed money to Cedric Benson
as the No. 4-overall pick just three years ago, but he hasn't been worth the investment so far. As a matter of fact, he is a colossal disappointment and currently nursing a fractured ankle that he suffered this past season. Mendenhall is a Niles West High School grad and starred for the Illini just down the road in Champaign, and the possible severity of Benson's injury makes this a need pick for a team that wants to run the football.
Round 2: No. 44
OT Anthony Collins – Kansas
If GM Jerry Angelo passes on an offensive tackle in Round 1, he better find one who can play right away in Round 2. Collins has prototypical size and above-average strength, although it might make more sense to put him at right tackle and keep veteran John Tait
over on the left side. With Fred Miller
no longer in the mix, tackle is perhaps this team's most immediate requirement because John St. Clair
– he started at left tackle, right tackle, and left guard in 2007 – is most valuable as a versatile backup.
Round 3: No. 70
WR Earl Bennett – Vanderbilt
With Bernard Berrian
and Muhsin Muhammad
both sporting new addresses these days, the offense needs to replace 111 catches from a year ago. Mark Bradley
has a lot of potential and Marty Booker
used to be a No. 1 receiver once upon a time, but the offense could use another wideout that can challenge for playing time the day he gets to training camp. Bennett is the SEC's all time leading receiver and a precise route-runner, plus he's tough enough to handle punishment over the middle as a slot man.
Round 3: No. 90
G Roy Schuening – Oregon State
Nine-time Pro Bowler Ruben Brown
expressed some interest in coming back for another year in Chicago, but the organization decided to go in a different direction. However, since Terrence Metcalf
was a disaster as a starter and Josh Beekman
didn't make any impact his rookie season, Brown's replacement at left guard doesn't appear to be on the roster right now. Schuening was durable for the Beavers and started 50 consecutive games at one point, but he's more of a technician than a mauler and fills in the blanks with toughness.
Round 4: No. 110
DT Andre Fluellen – Florida State
is ahead of schedule coming back from last season's torn ACL, but the fact remains that he's missed 31 of 32 games in two years as a pro. Anthony Adams
played better than expected before heading to IR and Matt Toeaina
looked good after being signed off the Cincinnati practice squad, but this defense likes to rotate its tackles liberally. Fluellen had an inconsistent career for the Seminoles, but he's a penetrator who makes plays in the backfield and is relentless in his pursuit of the passer.
Round 5: No. 147
S Craig Steltz – Louisiana State
is one of the best safeties in the game when he's healthy, but he hasn't survived a 16-game schedule since 2003. Danieal Manning
and Brandon McGowan
are solid players and can get the job done, although neither can be considered an intimidator down the field. Steltz may not be the most athletic safety on the board this April, but he knows how to work the angles, doesn't get fooled by play-action fakes, and has no problem laying the wood to separate the ball from the receiver.
Round 6: No. 175
QB Paul Smith – Tulsa
Since it is considered a weak class at the quarterback position this year, perhaps it makes more sense to take a late-round flyer on a player nobody expects to make it on Sundays. With Rex Grossman
and Kyle Orton
at the top of the depth chart, the feisty Smith can come in with next to no expectations and learn how to be an NFL signal-caller. He did account for an incredible 60 touchdowns this past season for the Golden Hurricane, and head coach Lovie Smith is a Tulsa alumnus.
Round 7: No. 222
G Jeremy Zuttah – Rutgers
Schuening is a solid selection in Round 3, but grabbing another guard prospect this late in the draft would also be a good move. Zuttah is a little bit undersized at 303 pounds and doesn't really have a lot of upside at this point, but he tested well at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis and possesses excellent upper-body strength. He started at both guard and tackle during his career in New Brunswick, so adding some flexibility to the second unit is never a bad idea.
Round 7: No. 243
OT David Hale – Weber State
If the heads at Halas Hall are going to draft two guards this year, then they might as well take two tackles as well. Hale is pretty sound from a technique perspective and strong enough to jolt pass-rushers at the line of scrimmage, and he plays with a noticeable mean streak that scouts just love in the trenches. He needs to get stronger in his lower body in order to play at the next level, but he can do that because strength and conditioning coach Rusty Jones is the best in the business.
Round 7: No. 247
CB Antwaun Molden – Eastern Kentucky
Built a lot like Charles Tillman
, Molden checks in at almost 6-1 and 200 pounds while running a 4.39 40-yard dash. Chicago's version of the Cover-2 defense works well with bigger corners because they're rarely asked to run step for step with receivers down the field, plus they're needed in run support. Molden is more athlete than football player right now and has a lot to learn about covering receivers out in space, but his killer combination of size and speed makes him an enticing prospect.
Round 7: No. 248
WR Justin Harper – Virginia Tech
The Bears don't really have a big target at the receiver position, but Harper checks in at over 6-3 and 213 pounds. While he isn't explosive coming out of breaks and tends to get neutralized by press coverage, he uses his body well to shield defenders from the ball and could develop into a dangerous red-zone option. He'll be a project like many seventh-rounders and most likely won't make an impact as a rookie, although he did average 16.1 yards per catch at a premier program.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.