The bowl season isn't over and we're already seeing mock draft machines get cranked up. Maybe it's that time of year. The NFL, after all, released the tentative order for the top 20 picks in the draft earlier this week and we know the Bears are slotted at No. 18 unless the San Diego Chargers reach the Super Bowl.
Todd McShay of ESPN takes a stab at the first round and the thing that makes his mock realistic is he includes draft-eligible underclassmen. Of course, the problem with that is there is no guarantee as to which underclassmen will come out early but a record number applied for an evaluation of their draft status for this year and the entire draft is expected to be loaded with juniors. In fact, McShay has juniors going with the top three picks, including Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford to the Detroit Lions with the No. 1 pick. In all, he has 20 of the top 32 picks being underclassmen.
If you just watched Southern Cal become the latest team to whip up on a Big Ten foe, then you got a good look at his projected selection for the Bears. He has the Bears choosing quarterback Mark Sanchez with the pick. Sanchez was interviewed on the field after the game and was asked about whether or not he intended to stay in school or come out. He didn't provide a hint.
Just judging off general manager Jerry Angelo's comments earlier this week, quarterback would not be the Inside the Bears' bet for the position the Bears address first. Angelo's thinking these days is that a winning quarterback can be found in the middle of the rounds and then developed. The Bears are going that exact route with Kyle Orton right now and it's expected the club will seek someone with experience to pair with Orton not a top prospect. But it's far too early to tell and if the Bears saw a quarterback they deemed as a can't-miss guy, you can't rule the position out.
I'm sure the Bears' offseason plans will be a healthy part of the conversation in the morning. I'll be filling in with Pro Football Weekly publisher Hub Arkush on The Score from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.