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What the latest NFL mock drafts say about the Bears post-free agency

NFL mock drafts saw their latest shake up over the last week with the beginning of NFL free agency. Teams have started filling holes on their 2018 rosters, and we even saw the Jets pay a massive cost to move up from No. 6 to No. 3, presumably in order to target a franchise quarterback.

But for the Bears, an active period in free agency likely won’t change their strategy too much. The team is in a position where it doesn’t desperately need to fill a key position with the No. 8 overall pick, so general manager Ryan Pace will have options. That’s especially true if several quarterbacks go early because the Bears won’t be targeting that position anyway.

There are a number of new mock drafts from prominent websites out following free agency, so here is the latest on what’s being projected for the Bears. Make sure to check out the newest mock draft from our own Adam L. Jahns, too.

No. 8 pick is still a wild card

We’re still not really closing in on a clear target with the No. 8 pick five weeks before the draft. Jahns went with a surprise selection of Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick in his latest mock, which also sees four quarterbacks taken with the first five picks. That would be ideal for the Bears because it’d free them to take a great prospect at another position.

Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick could potentially fall to the Bears at No. 8 overall. | Darron Cummings/AP Photo

Bleacher Report and CBS Sports also project Fitzpatrick to fall to the Bears after recent moves.

Another name mentioned by Jahns is Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who was also the projected pick in the latest mocks from USA Today’s BearsWire, NFL.com and The Ringer. Edmunds is quite young at just 19 years old, but he would be an upside play by the Bears as a potential stud pass rusher to pair with Leonard Floyd.

Over at main USA Today page, their newest mock draft projects Notre Dame offensive lineman Quenton Nelson as the Bears’ first-rounder. Nelson has been a commonly discussed target for Chicago given that he could help upgrade the offensive line after Pace added several skill players in free agency. NFL.com also has a recent mock draft with Nelson to Chicago.

NJ.com projects Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith as the Bears’ pick, and SB Nation goes with Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward.

So that’s three picks for Fitzpatrick, three picks for Edmunds, two picks for Nelson, and one pick each for Smith and Ward. Again, the Bears have a lot of options.

A full seven-round mock

It’s too early to begin reading too much into projections of what will happen with the 181st overall pick in the draft, but BearsWire still mocked out what the team might do for all seven rounds. Here are the selections:

First round, No. 8: LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
Second round, No. 39: DE Arden Key, LSU
Fourth round, No. 105: CB Duke Dawson, Florida
Fourth round, No. 115: WR Anthony Miller, Memphis
Fifth round, No. 145: CB Brandon Facyson, Virginia Tech
Sixth round, No. 181: OL Cole Madison, Washington State
Seventh round, No. 224: WR Equanimeous St. Brown, Notre Dame

There’s a clear focus on defense early on with Edmunds, Key and Dawson before taking some shots on skill players in Miller and St. Brown later on. Miller is coming off a huge senior year at Memphis where he recorded 96 catches for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns in 13 games.

Additionally, the NJ.com mock draft ran two rounds deep, so they project Ohio State linebacker Sam Hubbard as the Bears’ second-round pick after landing another linebacker in the first round. It seems apparent that, unless Nelson is available with the No. 8 pick, defense is the expected focus early on.