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Pace offers more insight on Bears draft picks

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Appearing on the Bears Draft 2020 show over the weekend, general manager Ryan Pace provided more insight about the team's seven picks.

During an interview with Jeff Joniak on Fox32 Chicago, Pace first discussed the Bears' top selection, second-round tight end Cole Kmet. The Chicago area native had a breakout season at Notre Dame last year when he established career highs with 43 receptions for 515 yards and six touchdowns.

"This is your well-rounded 'Y' tight end that we talked about," Pace said. "We feel that he's going to make great strides as a blocker going forward because he has the right temperament. He definitely has the body type. In the pass game, Cole's just a big target, [with a] big catching radius, soft, natural hands.

"Our Midwest scouts—Scott Hamel, Jeff Shiver, Chris Prescott—have been pounding the table for this guy for it seems like a year. So when he was there in the second round, we were real excited to get him."

After selecting Kmet at No. 43, the Bears chose Utah safety Jaylon Johnson with their second pick in the second round at No. 50.

A two-time first-team All-Pac 12 selection, Johnson boasts excellent size and athleticism. The 6-foot, 195-pounder played in 38 games with 29 starts the past three seasons at Utah, recording 102 tackles, seven interceptions—two of which he returned for touchdowns—21 pass breakups and one sack.

"His instincts and awareness really jump out," Pace said. "So just his feel in coverage to anticipate things and feel things around him; read the quarterback, jump routes. We really like him in press because he's physical and he uses his hands. Then you go to man coverage and he's got the foot quickness to mirror routes. Really good ball skills. A lot of corners, sometimes they panic when the ball's in the air. That's when you see PIs or they drop the coverage. He's really poised and calm and confident when the ball's in the air."

The Bears chose Tulsa outside linebacker Trevis Gipson with the No. 155 pick in the fifth round—a selection they acquired from the Vikings in exchange for a 2021 fourth-round choice.

Gipson was a two-year starter at Tulsa, where he earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors last year as a senior after setting career highs with 49 tackles, eight sacks and 15 tackles-for-loss. As a junior, he registered 46 tackles, four sacks and nine tackles-for-loss.

"His pass rush stands out," Pace said. "We think that can be even further enhanced in our defense and how we're going to use Gipson."

Pace described Gipson as possessing "a rugged, physical style of play."

"As a rusher, you feel the power, you feel the strength, but he also uses his hands really well," Pace said. "He's got the quickness to counter inside. He played really well at the Senior Bowl. We had him graded high, so that's what triggered us to go up and get him. It's a player we liked at obviously a valuable position in a pass rusher."

The Bears then selected Georgia Southern cornerback Kindle Vildor with the No. 163 pick in the fifth round. Vildor started his final two and a half seasons at Georgia Southern, where he earned first-team Sun Belt Conference honors last year as a senior after recording 27 tackles, three tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and six pass breakups.

The 5-11, 190-pounder first surfaced on the Bears' radar in 2018 when he recorded an interception and didn't allow a completion in coverage against a Clemson team that was ranked No. 2 in the nation at the time.

"Another guy with excellent football makeup," Pace said. "He kind of came on the map in 2018 in that Clemson game which has been talked about. He played real well against top-tiered competition. He's been productive throughout his college career, has the skill set we're looking for. I know his height might be a little undersized, but he's got really excellent arm length for the position."

The Bears then made their second trade in the fifth round, obtaining the No. 173 pick from the Eagles to select Tulane receiver Darnell Mooney. The Bears also obtained a seventh-round choice in the deal in exchange for two selections in the sixth round (Nos. 196 and 200) and one in the seventh (No. 233).

A four-year starter at Tulane, Mooney played in 49 games and caught 151 passes for 2,529 yards and 19 touchdowns. The speedy receiver had a breakout junior season in 2018, catching 48 passes for 993 yards and eight TDs. He followed last year with 45 receptions for 670 yards and five TDs.

"The first thing that jumps out is that he's athletic," Pace said. "He's got good speed. That was confirmed when he ran 4.3 at the Combine. And it's not just speed you see in shorts at the Combine. That 4.3 speed you see on tape. He can separate. I know [receivers coach] Mike Furrey's excited about working with him and making him a better player."

The Bears chose offensive linemen with back-to-back picks in the seventh round, selecting Colorado's Arlington Hambright at No. 226 and Tennessee State's Lachavious Simmons at No. 227.

Last season as a graduate student at Colorado, Hambright started all 12 games at left tackle and was named honorable mention All-Pac 12 by the league's coaches. The 6-4, 300-pounder transferred to Colorado after earning his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State last May.

"He's really athletic and he's tough, and I think you take those two traits, it makes him intriguing," Pace said. "He played college tackle. We're projecting him to guard. Hambright's just raw with a lot of traits to develop that we're excited about."

Simmons, a 6-5, 315-pounder, played every offensive line position except center during four seasons at Tennessee State, appearing in 41 games.

"He goes by 'Pig,' so Pig Simmons [is] just a country boy," Pace said. "We love his size and frame. Outstanding football makeup. One of the hardest workers in the Tennessee State program. Just really dedicated to his craft. I thought [Bears scouts] Sam Summerville, Breck Ackley and Chris White did a really good job with Pig Simmons. Awesome football character and a guy we're excited to work with."

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