Indeed, the 2024 NFL Draft is roughly 10 months away. And with NFL training camps kicking off in about 30 days, football fans are focused on the upcoming season. But for a team like the Chicago Bears that has two first-round picks at their disposal next April, it’s never too early to take a look at what the top 32 picks could look like.
Sports Illustrated published a new first-round mock draft this week, and for the Bears, it’s a first round that’s all about defense.
The good news for Bears fans is the pick Chicago acquired from the Carolina Panthers is expected to be a top-10 selection. In Sports Illustrated’s mock draft, it’s seventh.
Chicago’s first-rounder is No. 12, giving the Bears two picks in the top 15.
I have a hunch the Chicago Bears will win more games than the 12th overall pick generally does, but hey, this is Bears Talk, after all.
Now for the 2024 mock draft picks.
Round 1, Pick 7: Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State
This is the highest I’ve seen Chop Robinson in preseason mock drafts, but it doesn’t mean he won’t boost his stock into this range by April.
Robinson finished the 2022 season with four sacks, eight QB hurries, and 28 QB hits. Assuming his game takes that next step in 2023, he should be a near-lock for double-digit sacks.
It’s no secret the Bears’ biggest roster weakness on the eve of training camp is edge rusher. As a result, most (if not all) Chicago Bears mock drafts will send them a pass rusher in Round 1.
Robinson is a logical target. He’s an explosive player with good length. At 250 pounds, he fits the profile of a defensive end in Matt Eberflus’ scheme. He’s a name worth monitoring throughout the fall.
Round 1, Pick 12: Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama
The Bears’ second first-round pick is… another cornerback.
Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry would make it three years in a row that Chicago selected a cornerback with one of their top selections. They chose Kyler Gordon in the second round in 2022. This past April, Tyrique Stevenson was one of their two second-round picks.
McKinstry, however, is much different. He’s a legitimate first-round corner who’d be a fantastic replacement for Jaylon Johnson should the Bears’ veteran defender depart in free agency.
McKinstry has a natural feel in coverage that complements his above-average athletic traits. He’ll be viewed as a plug-and-play upgrade as a starting cornerback when the 2024 NFL draft calendar kicks into high gear.
Mock Draft Grade: A-
Any 2024 NFL mock draft that sends the Chicago Bears an upgrade to its pass rush and a premier cornerback has to get a high grade, right? They’re two of the game’s premium positions.
Remember: Poles must hit on the selection he received from the Panthers when he dealt the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft. If he hits on a pass rusher, that trade will go down as one of the best in team history.
The only reason this mock draft didn’t get a straight ‘A’ is because it feels like Robinson at No. 7 is a bit of a reach (right now). We could look back at this mock draft in a few months and wish the Chicago Bears were still in striking distance for the Nittany Lion. But with what we know right now, this feels a little high.