We made it, people. The 2011 NFL Draft is finally here, which means that all of the speculation and guessing will finally draw to a close on Thursday night. The final edition of the 2011 NFL Mock Draft from SB Nation has just been released, and they have the Bears taking Oregon State defensive tackle Stephen Paea. Here is their rationale.
Unless there's a plug-and-play starter on the O-Line here - and Danny Watkins may very well qualify - Paea is the smart play as a replacement for Tommie Harris.
I'm sure they wouldn't give that trip to the NFC Championship game last year back, but being this late in the draft means they probably won't be able to draft an immediate starter along the offensive line. But they have some needs along the other lien as well, and Stephen Paea could develop into a pretty good player. In fact, he could occupy a lot of blockers, meaning that Julius Peppers could be even more effective on the outside.
The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. (ET) on Thursday, April 28, and SB Nation has everything you need to prepare: NFL mock drafts, draft projections, scouting reports, the full NFL draft schedule and more. Check it out at SB Nation's NFL Draft page and our NFL Draft blog, Mocking the Draft.