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Kiper talks Bears draft options in first round


ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. thinks that the Bears will go in one of two directions with the 20th pick in the first round.

In his latest mock draft, Kiper predicts that the Bears will select Florida receiver Kadarius Toney but concedes they may instead choose an offensive tackle.

Toney is coming off a breakout senior season. After catching 50 passes for 606 yards and two touchdowns over his first three years at Florida, he more than doubled that output in 2020, registering 70 receptions for 984 yards and 10 touchdowns.

The 6-foot, 193-pounder showed his versatility throughout his four years with the Gators, rushing for 580 yards and two TDs on 66 carries and averaging 11.3 yards on 13 punt returns with one TD and 21.6 on 15 kickoff returns.

If Toney is still on the board at No. 20, Kiper thinks the Bears should pick him.

"If he's there, he would make sense," Kiper said Monday during a 90-minute conference call with the national media. "[The Bears have] got to figure out the quarterback position, but you need more weapons. Toney is more of a running back after the catch. He's tremendous in space, [has] great change of direction. He's the kind of guy with the versatility and the big-play ability. The great game-breaking skill he has would really help that Bears offense."

Kiper also believes that the Bears may consider an offensive tackle such as Virginia Tech's Christian Darrisaw, Stanford's Walker Little or Oklahoma State's Teven Jenkins.

Darrisaw was a three-year starting left tackle at Virginia Tech, opening 34 career games. Little started 12 games at left tackle for Stanford in 2018 and was named first-team All-Pac 12. But he sustained a season-ending knee injury in the 2019 opener against Northwestern and opted out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19. 

Jenkins started six games at right tackle and one contest at left tackle last year before opting out for the rest of the season. Jenkins teamed at Oklahoma State with Bears 2020 seventh-round draft pick Arlington Hambright, an offensive lineman who appeared in seven games with one start as a rookie.

In his previous mock draft released Feb. 7, Kiper had the Bears picking Jenkins at No. 20.

"I think Jenkins is the right tackle that the Bears certainly could use," Kiper said Monday. "He's going to test off the charts in terms of work ethic and the character aspect; he's going to be up there on a scale of 1-10 as a 10."

Kiper listed receiver and offensive line as two of the draft's strongest and deepest positions, so the Bears should have plenty of options should they be interested in addressing those two areas.