The 2020 NFL Draft will forever be remembered for its unique, virtual presentation. The pomp and circumstance of a live event was replaced by camera shots of Commissioner Roger Goodell, league coaches and general managers, the players themselves, and yes even some fans.
Let’s hope Bears fans can look back at and remember this draft more for the success of the players general manager Ryan Pace drafted than for the unique presentation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Here’s a look at the Bears’ 2020 draft class with a bit of analysis explaining their circumstances.
Round 2, Pick 11 (43rd overall) — Cole Kmet, Tight End, Notre Dame
The tight end position is one of the most important in Matt Nagy’s offense. Thus, last year’s reshuffling of the tight ends did Nagy absolutely no favors. Simply put, it was a position that had to be fixed, which is why the Bears heavily invested in it this offseason. The team signed veterans Demetrius Harris and Jimmy Graham via free agency and then used their first pick of the draft to take college football’s best tight end, Cole Kmet out of Notre Dame. Some Bears fans wonder why the Bears would take Kmet after paying Graham so much money. My first question to them would be, “did you see last year’s tight end production?” And secondly, Pace explained it best that Graham and Kmet are different types of tight ends. They not only complement each other but they can also be used on the field at the same time, helping to create mismatches.
Round 2, Pick 18 (50th overall) — Jaylon Johnson, Cornerback, Utah
From my assessment, and I don’t think I’m alone here, the cornerback position was the biggest need for the Bears heading into the draft. The Bears parted ways with veteran Prince Amukamara to help free up cap space, but that left them with a bunch of unknowns and retreads to compete for the starting job opposite Kyle Fuller. For as good as the Bears defense projects to be this year, having a gaping hole at one corner would allow opposing offenses a way to neutralize that defense. The Bears spent their second pick of the second round on addressing that need by selecting Utah cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Johnson, it was said by many, is a prospect with first-round talent who slid to the second round after having offseason shoulder surgery. Assuming that doesn’t hold him back (note: it shouldn’t), Johnson will likely start opposite Fuller and become the physical, ball-hawking corner that keeps offenses off-balance.
Round 5, Pick 10 (155th overall) — Trevis Gipson, EDGE, Tulsa
You can never have enough pass rushers and the Bears felt the need to give Khalil Mack a little bit of help this offseason. First, they signed pass rush extraordinaire Robert Quinn to a big free agent deal, releasing and replacing Leonard Floyd. Then the Bears traded up into the top of the fifth round to select Tulsa defensive end Trevis Gipson, a raw but athletic edge rusher. Gipson has some work to do refining his technique, but considering he won’t be relied upon to be an every-down player, he has a great opportunity to become part of a regular rotation and be surrounded by top defensive talent that will help him thrive.
Round 5, Pick 18 (163rd overall) — Kindle Vildor, Cornerback, Georgia Southern
The Bears apparently weren’t done addressing the cornerback position after the selection of Johnson on Friday night. The team selected Georgia Southern cornerback Kindle Vildor with their second pick of the fifth round. Vildor likely will be a special teams contributor early in his career. But he has a chance to compete for a backup role on defense.
Round 5, Pick 28 (173rd overall) — Darnell Mooney, Wide Receiver, Tulane
That old adage about “speed kills” is true, and it seems every team is trying to emulate what the Chiefs have done. There aren’t a whole lot of Tyreek Hills out there, but that won’t stop teams from trying to find a burner. The Bears might have found their version in Tulane’s Darnell Mooney. Mooney has a slight frame and didn’t exactly play against the best competition, but the film speaks for itself. Despite his size, he goes up after the ball. But the Bears didn’t draft him for his ability to catch a pass in traffic. No, they drafted him to turn a slant route into a touchdown. They took him to line him up anywhere on the field, and once he gets his hands on the ball, to outrun everybody.
Round 7, Pick 12 (226th overall) — Arlington Hambright, Offensive Line, Colorado
The Bears made two separate trades to get Gipson and Mooney, which included giving up both of their sixth-round selections. By the time they got back on the board in the seventh round, they chose to address the offensive line. With the first of their back-to-back selections in Round 7, they chose Colorado offensive lineman Arlington Hambright. Hambright played tackle in college but could move to the inside in the NFL. He’s got good versatility, and that’s exactly what the Bears coaches are looking for.
Round 7, Pick 13 (227th overall) — Lachavious Simmons, Offensive Line, Tennessee State
The Bears’ second of back-to-back picks in the seventh round was also an offensive lineman, Tennessee State’s Lachavious Simmons. Whether or not this was a reach, I can’t tell you. All I know is that there were a lot of other prospects ranked higher than Simmons. Clearly, the Bears’ coaching staff sees some trait that they like about him. Simmons also has versatility, having played every offensive line position except center in college. Seventh round picks are long shots to make the roster anyway. But I applaud the Bears for addressing the position and creating competition.