When NFL free agency kicks off on March 9, we'll finally have concrete answers as to which direction the Bears will go in bolstering key roster positions this offseason.
As a precursor to free agency and the NFL Combine, we'll try to predict — looking at the current roster without any additions — what the Bears should do with all seven picks they hold in the 2017 NFL Draft.
With that said, lets's look ahead to the Bears' full seven-round mock draft:
Round 1 (No. 3 overall) - Solomon Thomas (DE/EDGE), Stanford
As I did last week in version 1.0 of the CSN 2017 NFL Mock Draft, I'm sticking with the Bears using the third overall pick on Thomas. Is Thomas an EDGE rusher or is he a defensive end in a 3-4? It won't matter. The Bears will find room on the field for the best defensive player in this draft not named Myles Garrett. Thomas' athleticism is off the charts and he possesses the tools to become an elite player at the next level.
Round 2 (No. 36 overall) - Traded to New England Patriots along with a 2018 second-round pick for QB Jimmy Garoppolo
No decision looms larger for Bears GM Ryan Pace than finding the team's QB of the future this offseason. The Bears have/will continue to exhaust all resources until making that final decision. While the Patriots may want a first-round pick for Garoppolo, ultimately they'll likely settle for two second-round selections which is a modest return on investment for a player they would lose for nothing in free agency next offseason. Garoppolo has the potential to be an above-average starting quarterback, but he's far from proven and won't command the type of return the Eagles received last August when they traded Sam Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings — a desperate team in dire need of a quarterback after losing Teddy Bridgewater to a season-ending injury. After holding the clipboard for future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, Garoppolo would finally get the chance to prove himself to the rest of the league and start for the Bears in Week 1.
Round 3 (No. 67 overall) - Obi Melifonwu (S), Connecticut
The Bears hoped that Adrian Amos and Harold Jones-Quartey would take the next step last season and become a tandem to build around in their defensive backfield, but the exact opposite happened as lackluster years from the two second-year players have the Bears searching for answers at both safety positions. Melifonwu is a player the Bears coaching staff got a firsthand look at when they coached the ascending prospect on the North squad at the Senior Bowl last month. At 6-foot-4, Melifonwu has elite size to match up with tight ends and bigger wideouts. While he currently lacks the coverage skills to play free safety, Melifonwu could wreck havoc as the last line of defense in the secondary.
Round 4 (No. 108 overall) - Taywan Taylor (WR), Western Kentucky
If Alshon Jeffery bolts Chicago on March 9, it's going to leave the Bears with a gaping hole at wide receiver. Cameron Meredith was a pleasant surprise and looks to be a solid No. 2 wide receiver, but other than him the cupboard is barren at the position. The jury is still out on Kevin White who has missed 28 out of 32 games with injuries after he was selected seventh-overall by the Bears in the 2015 NFL Draft. Besides the two aforementioned players, there isn't any wide receiver on the Bears that you could confidently say is a lock to make the 53-man roster in 2017. At some point this offseason, the Bears need to make it a priority to find some speed coming out of the slot. Taylor, who had 98 receptions for 1,730 yards and 17 touchdowns in his senior year at Western Kentucky, is an ideal slot candidate with elite speed and explosiveness to thrive when getting the ball in space.
Round 4 (No. 114 overall) - Jake Butt (TE), Michigan
When he's on the field, Zach Miller is a highly productive player in the Bears offense. But for the 32-year-old Miller, staying off IR has been a problem throughout his career. The Bears need to find stability at the position and the 2017 NFL draft (extremely deep at tight end) presents an ideal opportunity. Before tearing his right ACL in the Citrus Bowl, Butt looked to be a Day 2 lock, but the injury has dropped his stock to a possible Day 3 pick. While Butt isn't a finished product as blocker, he should see the field early in his career as he's sure handed and knows how to find a seam in the defense as an intermediate target. If Butt still on the board in the fourth round, you'd be hard-pressed to find better value at the tight end position.
[RELATED: Complete 2017 NFL Draft coverage]
Round 5 (No. 148 overall) - Julie'n Davenport (OT), Bucknell
The Bears are set at both guard positions with Kyle Long and Josh Sitton and have their center of the future in Cody Whitehair. However, they could use depth on the offensive line at both tackle positions. After a rough start to the season, Bobby Massie emerged as dependable right tackle and should be the team's Week 1 starter on the right side, but the same can't be said for Charles Leno Jr. who has struggled in his two seasons at left tackle. Davenport, the cousin of NBA player Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, has elite length and physical traits to be a capable tackle in the NFL. Davenport possesses the kind of high upside you look for in a Day 3 prospect.
Round 7 (No. 226 overall) - Ben Boulware (LB), Clemson
Finding an impact player in the seventh-round is never an easy task, but Boulware is somebody who could become a special teams' stalwart in the NFL. A team captain on Clemson, Boulware was the heartbeat of the Tigers' defense over the last two years. While he lacks the size and quickness to become an every down player, Boulware could carve out a niche on special teams — an area in which he flourished in his first two years at Clemson.