Tremaine Edmunds would strengthen Bears at LB in latest Kiper mock

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace isn’t afraid to use a high pick on a linebacker.

Two years ago, Pace traded up two spots from No. 11 to No. 9 to draft outside linebacker Leonard Floyd out of Georgia. Although legitimate concerns existed regarding Floyd’s playing weight/durability coming out of college, the Bears felt Floyd’s off-the-charts athleticism outweighed the risk.

Floyd – after 22 NFL games – remains a work-in-progress, but he’s certainly talented (11.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss).

On the heels of taking Floyd in the top 10, ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. believes Pace might follow a similar script in this year’s draft.

Kiper has the Bears selecting Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds with the eighth overall pick in his 2018 NFL Mock Draft 2.0 released on Wednesday.

Edmunds – like Floyd – is supposed to be a tremendous athlete,= who is capable of lining up at either inside linebacker or outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Edmunds (6-foot-5, 250 pounds) had 109 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks for the Hokies in 2017.

Edmunds will no doubt turn heads at next month’s NFL combine.

In terms of Edmunds’ potential fit in Chicago, the Bears are undergoing changes at linebacker.

Not only did the club release veteran ILB Jerrell Freeman on Tuesday, but outside linebacker Pernell McPhee could be a salary cap casualty – McPhee is on the books for over $7 million in 2018. Additionally, linebackers Sam Acho and Christian Jones – players the Bears could have interest in re-signing – are unrestricted free agents, and Willie Young and Floyd both landed on injured reserve last season.

The Bears’ defense is further along than their offense, but Chicago shouldn’t dismiss the possibility of adding another strong defensive player, especially one with some ability to rush the passer.

For the record, Kiper has Norte Dame guard Quenton Nelson (a player of particular interest to Chicago fans since the

Bears just declined their team option on veteran guard Josh Sitton) going seventh overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Alabama wide receiver Calvin Ridley, whom Kiper projected to the Bears in his Mock Draft 1.0, is now linked to the Arizona Cardinals with the 15th overall choice.