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ESPN’s Mel Kiper has Bears taking Alabama safety in first round

ESPN NFL draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. posted his first mock draft Thursday, and he has the Bears taking Alabama safety Landon Collins with the seventh overall pick.

The 6-foot, 212-pound junior led Alabama with 103 tackles and three interceptions last season. He had seven pass breakups, 10 pass deflections, forced a fumble and had two recoveries.

Here’s what Kiper had to say about him:

Safety play has been, without exaggerating, a borderline disaster for the Bears, extending beyond this season. Collins does a lot of his best work near the line of scrimmage, but he can certainly be effective playing off the line as a guy who anticipates well, makes good reads and takes proper angles. He comes in with a lot of experience, and for a defense that was such a mess, I like taking a player who offers a lot of versatility and won’t need to come off the field much. I know cornerback is a need even after they used a first-round pick there last year, but I’m not sold on the value this high, and, given Chicago’s litany of needs on D, they should go for the best player who can help them soon. Collins fits.

Previous mock drafts had the Bears taking DE/LB Alvin Dupree out of Kentucky and DE/LB Dante Fowler out of Florida with the seventh pick. They all agree, though, the Bears will take a top defensive playmaker to improve their woeful defense.

Here’s Kiper’s projected top 10:

1. Buccaneers: Jameis Winston, QB, Florida State

2. Titans: Marcus Mariota, QB, Oregon

3. Jaguars: Leonard Williams, DE, USC

4. Raiders: Amari Cooper, WR, Alabama

5. Redskins: Randy Gregory, DE, Nebraska

6. Jets: Shane Ray, De, Missouri

7. Bears: Landon Collins, S, Alabama

8. Falcons: Dante Fowler Jr., DE/LB, Florida

9. Giants: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa

10. Rams: TJ Clemmings, OT, Pittsburgh

Click here (subscription required) to read the rest of Kiper’s preview.

Click here for ESPN’s video highlights package on Landon Collins.