Grading the Chicago Bears’ 2020 NFL Draft Class

After adding seven rookies over the course of the seven round event, how did Chicago fare in terms of improving its roster through the Draft?


Photo credit to the Chicago Bears via Twitter

Though the Bears did not have a pick on the first night of the 2020 NFL Draft—an evening that incorporated exclusively the first 32 selections—general manager Ryan Pace and other front office executives were largely able to make the most with their options on Days 2 and 3 of the Draft.

The Bears met positions of need with their seven total draftees, added depth to certain position groups and even nabbed a hometown hero.

Here are grades for each of the newest players who will now call Soldier Field home.

Round 2, Pick #43: Cole Kmet, Tight End, Notre Dame

The Bears have a bit of a muddle at tight end, as now 10 TEs are on the roster—including veteran Jimmy Graham, whom Pace signed from Green Bay.

Kmet was the best tight end on my board, and he provides longevity at the tight end position—Graham was inked to just a two year, $16 million deal.

Kmet is a local prospect: he played high school football at Saint Viator High School in Arlington Heights, IL. Kmet contributed in both football and baseball for the Lions; in three years of varsity football action, he totaled 93 receptions for 1,385 receiving yards and 10 total touchdowns. Ultimately, Kmet was recruited to play football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

I take no issue with this pick except for the fact that elite safeties such as LSU’s Grant Delpit and Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. were still on the board at Pick 43. Overall, Bears fans should be content—Kmet will likely become an instant fan-favorite.

Grade: B+

Round 2, Pick #50: Jaylon Johnson, Cornerback, Utah

To me, this was Chicago’s best pick of the entire Draft.

For many—me included—Johnson was a first-round talent; he may have even fallen as far as 31 picks, as the Las Vegas Raiders could have selected him with the #19 overall choice.

Johnson filled a true need at corner, as the Bears have no elite CB to pair with two time Pro Bowl selection Kyle Fuller.

Johnson should be thrust into competition for the CB2 spot alongside former Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick Artie Burns as well as third year defensive back Kevin Toliver. I would not be surprised whatsoever if this 2019 First Team All-PAC 12 selection earns a starting spot before Week 1.

Grade: A

Round 5, Pick #155: Trevis Gipson, Edge Rusher, Tulsa

Gipson should add depth to an outside linebacker corps that includes the likes of three time All-Pro Khalil Mack as well as newcomer veterans Robert Quinn and Barkevious Mingo.

Gipson totaled eight sacks as a redshirt senior for the Golden Hurricane and was graded as a 6.22 by, meaning he will likely help the Bears in a backup role.

Chicago, however, could’ve possibly added different edge rushers such as Boise State’s Curtis Weaver, who was often rated higher on many draft boards.

Grade: B

Round 5, Pick #163: Kindle Vildor, Cornerback, Georgia Southern

Pace made Vildor just the 15th Georgia Southern prospect to be taken in the NFL Draft all-time; he was selected alongside teammate and kicker Tyler Bass, who was chosen in the sixth round by the Buffalo Bills on Saturday. Vildor had 2 interceptions and 6 pass deflections as a senior, marks good enough to earn him a spot on the 2019 All-Sun Belt First Team.

Vildor, like Johnson, should bolster a cornerback room that needs reinforcements, though he is likely to start his career on special teams.

Grade: B

Round 5, Pick #173: Darnell Mooney, Wide Receiver, Tulane

Mooney was one of Pace’s best picks of 2020. The 5’11” receiver ran a blazing 4.38 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, something that augmented his draft stock.

In this piece for The Draft Network, writer Carter Donnick theorizes that Mooney may be the most underrated receiver in the 2020 class due to his ability to create separation versus defenders directly off of the line of scrimmage.

Mooney could see some reps at WR4 or WR5 for Chicago, though his role could increase in 2021 if the Monsters of the Midway do not re-sign return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson next offseason.

Grade: A-

Round 7, Pick #226: Arlington Hambright, Offensive Lineman, Colorado

Hambright began his collegiate career suiting up for Garden City Community College in Garden City, Kansas for two years. Then, he transferred to Oklahoma State before ultimately switching campuses once again to reach Colorado.

Subsequent to the retirement of three time Pro Bowl selection Kyle Long, the Bears need long-term stability at the right guard position. Hambright—the former Buffalo—will likely compete for a chance to start at RG, though it’s unlikely he will see the field instantaneously. The chances of him being an impact player in the future are likely slim.

Grade: B

Round 7, Pick #227: Lachavious Simmons, Offensive Lineman, Tennessee State

After going one round sans a pick, Pace doubled down on offensive linemen by drafting the 6’5” Simmons, who will also be put into the mix at right guard alongside Germain Ifedi, Rashaad Coward and Hambright. Simmons was a First Team All-Ohio Valley Conference selection in 2019 and was the first Tennessee State alum to be picked since former Rams center Demetrius Rhaney in the 2014 NFL Draft. 

I would have liked to have seen Pace add a safety here, as Chicago’s current projected counterpart to 2018 and 2019 Pro Bowler Eddie Jackson is Tashaun Gipson Sr., who was signed to just a one-year contract. Safeties like First Team All-American J.R. Reed were still on the board at this position—in fact, Reed was not drafted at all despite playing in 13 games last year for the Georgia Bulldogs. The fact that Pace did not opt for a center fielder with this selection docks its grade.

Grade: B-

Overall Grade: B+