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 are all about the offensive line early.
Round 1: No. 14
OL Branden Albert – Virginia
By far one of the hottest names in the NFL Draft leading up to selection weekend, Albert has the ability to play both guard and tackle at the next level. He was primarily lined up at guard for the Cavaliers, which is understandable considering former No. 4-overall pick D'Brickashaw Ferguson
was a teammate of his in Charlottesville. The Bears have an opening at both right tackle and left guard as presently constituted, meaning Albert can come in and take over at whichever position he fits best.
Round 2: No. 44
RB Matt Forte – Tulane
General manager Jerry Angelo needs to decide if he wants a running back to complement Cedric Benson
or another primary ball-carrier altogether, and Forte would certainly fall into the latter category. A strong runner who cracked the 2,000-yard plateau this past season for the Green Wave, Forte also possesses excellent hands out of the backfield and is a willing blocker in the passing game. He can be an every-down threat on Sundays, a luxury neither Adrian Peterson
nor Garrett Wolfe
Round 3: No. 70
OT Tony Hills – Texas
Offensive tackle is perhaps this team's No. 1 need heading into the draft, but Hills is still a quality choice in the third round since this is such a deep class at his position. He'll probably start his NFL career as a right tackle, although he could possibly be groomed to take over on the left side so veteran John Tait
can ultimately be moved to a less demanding spot. If Albert projects as a true guard despite his desire to play tackle, then getting Hills just two picks later becomes a necessity.
Round 3: No. 90
S Josh Barrett – Arizona State
One of the top athletes on the board regardless of position, Barrett burned up the track at the combine with a time of 4.35 seconds in the 40-yard dash while carrying a sturdy 223 pounds. Although he is more physical specimen than football player, he might have the most upside of any safety in the draft if he can ever maximize his ability on the gridiron. The Bears simply can't keep depending on Mike Brown
, who is a stud when healthy but hasn't suited up for a full season since 2003.
Round 4: No. 110
WR Keenan Burton – Kentucky
At 6-0 1/2 and 201 pounds, Burton plays bigger than his size would indicate and has shown the ability to bounce off tacklers for extra yards after the catch. He's had some durability issues and doesn't have elite speed for a wideout, but he's tough as nails and strong enough to handle press coverage from NFL corners. The Midway Monsters don't have a true primary receiver on the roster, as Marty Booker
is soon to be 32 years old and Mark Bradley
just hasn't been the same since tearing his knee as a rookie in 2005.
Round 5: No. 147
QB Colt Brennan – Hawaii
Since this is such a poor crop of quarterbacks and two teams will inevitably reach for second-tier prospects like Joe Flacco
of Delaware and Chad Henne
of Michigan, perhaps it makes more sense to wait on a high-upside guy like Brennan. His stock took a tumble after a weak performance at the Senior Bowl, but he was by far the most accurate signal-caller at the combine even though he was battling a hip injury. He might slip a round or two after having surgery recently on said hip, making him worth the gamble in Round 5.
Round 6: No. 175
DT Lionel Dotson – Arizona
A lot of teams will pass on Dotson since he's considered a bit undersized at 296 pounds, but head coach Lovie Smith likes his defensive tackles lean and mean. Dotson is a classic one-gap penetrator, relentless in his pursuit of the quarterback and capable of blowing up running plays in the backfield. He's not a very instinctual player and will have to get stronger in his lower body, but he looks to be a good fit in Chicago's Cover-2 scheme and could make his way into the rotation quickly.
Round 7: No. 222
CB Zackary Bowman – Nebraska
Bowman didn't have much of a career for the Cornhuskers, mostly due to a slew of injuries that kept him off the field. Built a lot like Charles Tillman
, Bowman has an enviable combination of size (6-0 1/8, 197 pounds) and speed (4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash) and can contribute right away on the coverage units. The Bears scored at corner with both Corey Graham
and Trumaine McBride
late in the 2007 draft, but a secondary can never have too many defensive backs in today's pass-happy NFL.
Round 7: No. 243
FB Jerome Felton – Furman
Backup Lousaka Polite
is far from a lock to make the roster, so the Bears could be in the market for another fullback. Starter Jason McKie
is an adequate blocker and capable of catching the ball out of the backfield, although Felton might possess more upside both blocking and receiving going forward. The 241-pounder also scored 63 touchdowns on the ground in his career as a Palladin, which means he should be an effective rusher in short-yardage and goal-line packages.
Round 7: No. 247
TE Kolomona Kapanui – West Texas A&M
The defection of John Gilmore
to Tampa Bay means the Bears will be looking to add a third-string tight end, preferably a big body that can be used as a glorified third tackle. Kapanui is a monster at 6-3 3/8 and 271 pounds, although he's not nearly as effective blocking in the trenches as his size would suggest. But he runs pretty good routes and has a wide frame that shields defenders from the ball, plus the fact that he was originally committed to USC proves he has some natural ability.
Round 7: No. 248
OG Jacky Claude – Florida State
Albert, the team's first-round pick, could wind up at tackle just as easily as he could wind up at guard by the time the team breaks training camp. So if Angelo is going to take Hills in Round 3 just to make sure he gets a tackle in this draft, then it also makes sense to take Claude in Round 7 just to make sure he gets a guard, too. Claude needs to put on some weight and isn't overly explosive coming off the ball, but he's enough of a technician to get the job done and always finishes off his blocks.
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.