The Bears’ draft dreams appear to be coming true. Teams already are fighting for position in front of them — an early run on quarterbacks seems inevitable.
For the Bears, that means some of the draft’s best non-QBs might fall to them at the eighth overall selection.
Or it could mean that general manager Ryan Pace will receive calls to trade down and acquire more picks.
This mock draft remains a guide, but there is a better sense of what teams want after the Jets and Bills boldly altered the draft order through trades and teams signed players in free agency.
1. Browns: Sam Darnold, USC QB
Thanks to the Jets’ acquisition of the No. 3 pick, the Browns can’t wait to select a QB at No. 4. The acquisition of Tyrod Taylor doesn’t change anything, either. Browns GM John Dorsey should take the best QB on his board.
2. Giants: Josh Rosen, UCLA QB
Prediction: If the Giants don’t take Rosen or another QB, a team will trade into this spot and do so before the Jets. But Eli Manning can’t play forever. Offensive tackle Nate Solder, the Giants’ big free-agent signing, can protect him and his replacement.
3. Jets (via Colts): Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB
After failing to sign QB Kirk Cousins, the Jets guaranteed themselves a shot at one of the draft’s top three QBs by trading up with the Colts. It cost plenty — the No. 6 pick, 37th pick, 49th pick and 2019 second-round pick.
4. Browns (via Texans): Saquon Barkley, Penn State RB
Prediction: The Browns — after taking their QB at No. 1 — trade down with a team looking to leapfrog the Broncos. But if they don’t, taking Barkley immediately improves their offense.
5. Broncos: Josh Allen, Wyoming QB
The Broncos signed QB Case Keenum, but at best, he’s the true bridge QB that Mike Glennon wasn’t for the Bears.
6. Colts (via Jets): Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame G
Colts GM Chris Ballard might have botched his first head-coaching search, but after his trade with the Jets, he’s loaded with picks for his rebuild. Nelson is a building block.
7. Buccaneers: Bradley Chubb, N.C. State edge rusher
The Bucs will benefit from a run on QBs, too.
8. Bears: Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama S
The Bears are surrounded by teams in the draft that don’t need QBs, which means trading back will have its complications.
But the aggressive deals the Jets (No. 6 to No. 3) and Bills (No. 21 to No. 12) made to move up in the draft are a positive development. Pace should have a plan in place for four QBs to be taken before No. 8.
Safety isn’t exactly a position of concern, but Fitzpatrick is too talented, too versatile and too darned good to pass on. He did everything in Alabama’s secondary and could fill many roles in Vic Fangio’s defense.
The other option is Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who is 6-5, 253 pounds and only 19 years old. He has drawn comparisons to Brian Urlacher because of his athleticism and size, but he also has the potential to be an outside rusher.
Fitzpatrick, though, is widely considered a top-end player, a true game-changer on Day 1. It’s thought that Edmunds will require time to develop, similar to Leonard Floyd.
9. 49ers: Denzel Ward, Ohio State CB
The 49ers might have QB Jimmy Garoppolo to build around, but their defense needs help.
10. Raiders: Roquan Smith, Georgia LB
Coach Jon Gruden could use a field general for a defense that needs to improve.
11. Dolphins: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech LB
If the 49ers or Raiders don’t jump on Edmunds, the Dolphins should.
12. Bills (via Bengals): Lamar Jackson, Louisville QB
Can the Bills trade into the top five? They want a quarterback.
13. Redskins: Derwin James, Florida State S
The Redskins spent plenty of money on their offense, leaving themselves with a range of defensive needs.
14. Packers: Josh Jackson, Iowa CB
The Packers’ offer-sheet bid for Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller failed, but they’ll be fine if Jackson, a true ballhawk, is available.
15. Cardinals: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame OT
Prediction: No one will spend more time trying to move up than Cardinals’ GM Steve Keim. The free-agent combo of Sam Bradford and Glennon isn’t the answer. McGlinchey, though, will be a good friend for any QB.
16. Ravens: Calvin Ridley, Alabama WR
If the Ravens are sticking with QB Joe Flacco, he’ll need more help than receiver Michael Crabtree, a free-agent addition.
17. Chargers: Connor Williams, Texas OT
Williams will work out for QB Philip Rivers or his successor.
18. Seahawks: Arden Key, LSU
The Seahawks need to reload their once-loaded defense and aren’t afraid of players with character questions.
19. Cowboys: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M WR
It’s time to find a new young weapon for QB Dak Prescott.
20. Lions: Harold Landry, Boston College edge rusher
New coach Matt Patricia, the Patriots’ former defensive coordinator, can nab a prolific rusher from the college level.
21. Bengals (via Bills): Rashaan Evans, Alabama LB
The Bengals traded for offensive tackle Cordy Glenn. It’s time to address the defense.
22. Bills (via Chiefs) : Vita Vea, Washington DL
Prediction: This pick won’t belong to the Bills. They need it to find their QB earlier in the draft.
23. Rams: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama DT
The Rams significantly improved their defense by acquiring cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. Those improvements continue in Round 1.
24. Panthers: Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio edge rusher
Davenport can spend a year learning from Julius Peppers, who re-signed for his 17th season.
25. Titans: Will Hernandez, Texas-El Paso G
Better protection would help quarterback Marcus Mariota have a bounce-back season.
26. Falcons: Taven Bryan, Florida DT
Adding a big, athletic brute in Bryan can go long way in coach Dan Quinn’s defense.
27. Saints: Mike Gesicki, Penn State TE
The Saints failed to bring back tight end Jimmy Graham in free agency. Gesicki is a special athlete.
28. Steelers: Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State LB
The best way to replace to Ryan Shazier (spinal injury) is through the draft.
29. Jaguars: Ronnie Harrison, Alabama S
The Jaguars made splashes in free agency on offense. They can bolster their already top-notch defense in the draft.
30. Vikings: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia OL
Investing $84 million in Cousins also requires investing in those who protect him.
31. Patriots: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State OLB
The Patriots addressed plenty in free agency and through trades but still need a pass rusher.
32. Eagles: Derrius Guice, LSU RB
The Eagles already strengthened their defense this offseason The draft should provide QB Carson Wentz with more weapons.