Stay away: Five players the Bears should not draft
With time running out to interview prospects, the Bears are almost done setting their draft board.
Anyone can tell them which players to select when the draft starts April 27. The purpose here is to suggest players to avoid.
Because of poor scheme fits, positional matches, on-field quirks and off-field problems, the Bears shouldn’t think about picking any of these five players:
RB Leonard Fournette, LSU
Fournette might be the best running back prospect since the Vikings took Adrian Peterson seventh overall in 2007. Someone will fall in love with the 6-foot, 240-pound specimen — particularly after the success the Cowboys had with No. 4 pick Ezekiel Elliott last year — and draft him high.
That team shouldn’t be the Bears, who already have a 22-year-old Pro Bowl running back in Jordan Howard. General manager Ryan Pace, who selected Howard in the fifth round last year and Jeremy Langford in the fourth round in 2015, seems to fall in the camp of finding rushers late, not early, in the selection process.
Fournette may help the Bears in a different way: by raising the trade value of their No. 3 pick. They’re willing to move down for the right price; Fournette might be the player who motivates a team to give up those pieces.
QB Patrick Mahomes, Texas Tech
Three years from now, Mahomes, a potential first-rounder, might be the star of this quarterback class. He has great genes (his dad, Pat, pitched for the Cubs, among other teams, in 11 major-league seasons), and he has room to grow, considering he didn’t give up college baseball until last year.
Mahomes’ arm strength is unquestioned. But his decision-making is.
And this is where Bears fans should start getting flashbacks. And, perhaps, start shaking uncontrollably.
“I kind of liken him to what I saw from Jay Cutler when he was coming out of Vanderbilt,” NFL Network draft analyst Bucky Brooks said. “Because he played loosey-goosey at Vanderbilt, he never developed the management skills to play winning football.
“I fear Mahomes may be a similar way, where he never learned to play the right way to win games at the highest level.”
Mahomes’ physical skills make him a good fit for the Bears. His similarities to Cutler make him a poor one.
S Jabrill Peppers, Michigan
He’s the most fun player in the draft. A safety by trade, he started at linebacker last year. He played some running back, too, carrying 27 times for 167 yards, and he showed NFL-ready flair as a kick and punt returner.
But his ball skills on defense need work; he had only one interception and 11 passes defended in his three-year college career.
While he’ll improve once he focuses on one position, Peppers is little more than a box safety right now — he can play the run near the line of scrimmage and cover tight ends and slot receivers. The Bears prefer to develop box safeties rather than use a high-round pick on one.
RB Joe Mixon, Oklahoma
Brooks claims Mixon could be the most skilled rusher in the draft and compares him to Cardinals star David Johnson. But for all of Mixon’s talent, there’s no getting around the fact he punched a female student in the face in 2014. Some still believe he’ll go late in the first round.
There’s little reason to think the Bears are interested. They have Howard and no appetite for domestic violence scandals in the wake of Ray McDonald’s misdeeds two years ago. The Bears, too, are proud of how they’ve crafted a positive, low-maintenance locker room under coach John Fox.
CB Sidney Jones, Washington
The most depressing moment of the pre-draft season came March 11 when Jones, a likely first-rounder, tore his left Achilles tendon at the Huskies’ pro day.
Whoever drafts Jones will get value: a first-round talent for, say, a third-round price. But the Bears can’t afford a redshirt player. Fox needs to win this season, or else.
Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.