The 2020 NFL draft is less than four weeks away and now that the first wave of free agency is over, team needs have begun to crystallize.
For the Chicago Bears, that means youth at tight end and a starting-quality safety will be high on their draft wish list. According to Chad Reuter's latest NFL.com 2020 mock draft, the Bears check both boxes with potential starters in the second round.
At pick No. 43, Chicago adds LSU safety Grant Delpit, who prior to the 2019 college football season was considered by most draft analysts to be the most gifted defensive player not named Chase Young.
Delpit's final season with the Tigers wasn't the best for his draft stock. He lacked the splash plays that made him a household name last season, but he still displayed the kind of aggressive and fearless style that would make him a strong complement next to Eddie Jackson, who the Bears want to get back to playing centerfield. Delpit will slide to the second round because he's an inconsistent finisher, but he'd offer great value for a Bears defense that needs an aggressive run defender on its third level.
At No. 50, the Bears snag a potential starter at tight end in Purdue's Brycen Hopkins.
Hopkins is a wide receiver in a tight end's body; he's everything Chicago's offense has been missing. Regardless of who wins the team's quarterback competition this summer, a player like Hopkins has the kind of playmaking ability to instantly become one of the early reads in the offense's passing game.
With veterans Jimmy Graham and Trey Burton already on the roster, a player like Hopkins could be eased into the lineup with the expectation that he'd eventually become the primary receiving option at the position by the end of his rookie season.
Not a bad second-round haul. It's critically important that Ryan Pace hits on his second-rounders, too. The Bears' next pick doesn't occur until the fifth round, which is usually when special teams players and practice squad candidates are added.
Despite an active free agency period by GM Ryan Pace and the Bears, there's still much work to do to round out this roster in advance of the regular season.
The 2020 NFL draft will give Pace an opportunity to fill some of the voids that remain after the first wave of signings on the open market.
So far, the Bears have added QB Nick Foles, TE Jimmy Graham and OLB Robert Quinn as the headliners, and depth pieces like CB Artie Burns and OLB Barkevious Mingo. But the holes in the secondary and along the offensive line must be addressed, and that's what we do in this new seven-round mock draft.
What happens when a team signs a 33-year-old tight end with nothing left in the tank to a two-year, $16 million deal? They're forced to address the position in the upcoming NFL Draft.
That's the reality facing the Chicago Bears this year after adding Jimmy Graham in free agency. The former Packer looked closer to retirement than a lucrative free-agent contract last season and is a far cry from the answer the Bears need at tight end.
As a result, in the Draft Wire's latest 2020 NFL Mock Draft, the Bears snag Notre Dame's Cole Kmet at No. 43 overall.
Kmet makes even more sense now than he did a week ago. He's a younger version of Graham with his combination of size and above-average athletic ability. Rookie tight ends often struggle to make an immediate impact in Year 1, and with Trey Burton and Graham already on the roster, a player like Kmet can be brought along slowly and in time for the 2021 season.
At No. 50, the Bears add much-needed cornerback help in Clemson's AJ Terrell.
Ryan Pace hasn't addressed the secondary yet in free agency, and with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix's departure to the Cowboys, the Bears have holes at starting cornerback and safety.
Terrell projects as a plug-and-play candidate in Year 1 and would join a training camp battle between Kevin Toliver and Tre Roberson for a crack at first-team reps.
The Bears' trade for Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles cost them their fourth-round pick. They're left with the following selections in 2020: 163 (5th round), 196 (6th round), 200 (6th round), 226 (7th round), 230 (7th round).