In his latest mock draft, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. is predicting that five quarterbacks will be selected among the first nine picks.
Kiper thinks it's highly unlikely that any of the five will still be on the board when the Bears go on the clock at No. 20.
"I would be very surprised if one dropped to 20," Kiper said Monday during a 90-minute call with the national media. "I thought maybe at one point in time [Alabama's] Mac Jones could or [North Dakota State's] Trey Lance could. But I just think that's not going to happen.
"The quarterbacks always get forced up higher than they probably should in a lot of cases. In this case, I don't necessarily think they are getting forced up. That's where they're graded out to go and that's where they should go based on their rating."
Like seemingly every other pundit on the planet, Kiper expects Clemson's Trevor Lawrence to be chosen by the Jaguars with the No. 1 overall pick. After that, it figures to get interesting. For the first time ever, Kiper is including trades in his mock draft—and he thinks that three of the next four quarterbacks will be selected by teams that deal up to get them.
Kiper predicts that the Falcons will trade up two spots with the Jets to choose BYU's Zach Wilson at No. 2 and the 49ers will deal up five slots with the Lions to take Ohio State's Justin Fields at No. 7.
Kiper then has the Panthers selecting Jones at No. 8 and the Patriots trading up six spots with the Broncos to pick Lance at No. 9.
For the Bears to land Jones, Lance, Fields or Wilson, Kiper thinks they'll have to trade up into at least the top 15 and possibly the top 10. A lot depends on whether the 49ers and Patriots trade up for a quarterback.
"They may have to be very aggressive to get one of those other four quarterbacks after Trevor Lawrence," Kiper said of the Bears.
There have never been five quarterbacks selected among the top 10 picks in the history of the NFL Draft. The closest was in 1999 when five were taken in the first 12 spots. The only other times there have been five or more quarterbacks chosen in the first round were when there were six drafted in 1983 and five selected in 2018.
Wide range for Fields
While most draft analysts are convinced that Fields will be a top-10 pick, some aren't so sure. NFL.com's Charley Casserly is predicting that the Ohio State star will slip to the Steelers at No. 24.
Kiper didn't mention Casserly by name, but ESPN's longtime draft guru vehemently disagreed that Fields would fall that far.
"I'm not buying that," Kiper said. "Everybody has a right to their opinion. From who I speak to, he's going to go top 10. I have him at seven; some think earlier than that. There is a huge range on Justin Fields. I don't understand some of the criticism. He had two rough games and that was it. In the championship game, he was banged up coming off the Clemson game where he got hurt. There were plenty of games where you saw him do what he needed to do."
Trask could be available in Round 2
Kiper expects Florida quarterback Kyle Trask to be an option in the second round, naming Washington at No. 51 and the Steelers at No. 55 as two possibilities. Kiper also mentioned the Bears potentially considering Trask at No. 52.
"He's limited," Kiper said. "He's a pocket guy. I thought he went through his progressions pretty well, [but] there are times when he'll stare down the primary receiver … Accuracy I think was his strength. He doesn't give you much in the way of mobility in terms of he'll put pressure on the offensive line. But he came a long way in terms of what he was able to do during his career to get to the point where you're talking about a second-round pick. It's pretty amazing, from where he was to where he is right now."
Kiper sees receiver as strongest position
In his mock draft, Kiper has the Bears selecting Florida receiver Kadarius Toney. Kiper projects that Toney will be the fourth receiver off the board, following Alabama's DeVonta Smith to the Dolphins at No. 3, LSU's Ja'Marr Chase to the Eagles at No. 6 and Alabama's Jaylen Waddle to the Giants at No. 11.
"There's going to be a lot of depth at wide receiver all the way around," Kiper said. "I like the wide receiver position a lot. It's the strongest position overall in this draft."