Dannehy: Chicago Bears NFL Draft Big Board

| February 17th, 2023

It’s a little odd attempting to put together an NFL draft big board for the team with the first overall pick, but with much speculation that the team might trade down, there is a lot to consider.

Obviously, if the Bears stay with the first overall pick, or move down just a couple of spots there are very few players who would be in consideration. But we shouldn’t rule out the possibility of the Bears moving down a couple of times or dealing out of the top ten entirely for a massive haul. There is also the possibility that the team will move up into the back half of the first round, should they acquire enough draft picks to do so.

With that, this board has to be tiered.

  • Tier One will be players the team would consider with picks inside the top four.
  • Tier Two will be players who would be in consideration from picks 5-10.
  • Tier Three will be players the team could consider in the teens.
  • Tier Four will be players who they might grab at the end of the first round.

Tier One

1. Will Anderson Jr., DE, Alabama

Anderson seems to check every box a team could want in a prospect. Even in a “down year” this past season, Anderson was among the post productive pass rushers in college football, finishing with 10 sacks and 17 TFLs. By all accounts, he fits the HITS principle and Matt Eberflus’ relationship with Nick Saban should give the Bears good intel.

2. Jalen Carter, DT, Georgia

If Anderson is the top player on the board, then Carter is 1A.

Carter didn’t quite have the production teams covet, but his tape shows flashes of a dominant player. Georgia asked him to do different things than the Bears will, but when Carter was asked to simply shoot a gap – which is what the Bears will require of him – he was tough to block.

But there is a question about if he fits the HITS principle. Todd McShay, Mel Kiper Jr. and Dane Brugler have all made mention of Carter’s effort. Will the Bears see it the same way? No idea, but it will be worth investigating.

Tier Two

3. Tyree Wilson, DE, Texas Tech

A bit of a late bloomer, Wilson came through with 14 sacks the past two seasons.

He’ll require quite a bit more coaching than Anderson, but Wilson has all the physical skills the Bears could want. He is 6’6′-275 with freakishly long arms. He showed both power and athleticism in college.

4. Paris Johnson Jr., OT, Ohio State

Really, Johnson’s name is a placeholder for “best offensive tackle.” The consensus seems to be that Johnson has that title with his size and athleticism. It could also be Broderick Jones. The important part is that the Bears could get a player who could lock down one side of the offensive line.

5. Jaxon Smith-Njigba, WR, Ohio State

Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave were two of the best rookies in the league this past season and JSN outproduced both at OSU.

After catching 95 passes for 1,606 yards and nine touchdowns as a true sophomore, JSN sat out most of the past season with a hamstring injury. If his medical report comes back clean, JSN should be the first wide receiver off the board.

Tier Three

6. Lukas Van Ness, DE, Iowa

Call it a draft crush, if you will, but Van Ness could be ideal at the right defensive end position for the Bears.

Just a red shirt sophomore, Van Ness totaled 19.5 TFLs and 13.5 sacks in two seasons at Iowa. The Barrington High School graduate seems to fit the HITS principle and is a fun player to watch.

7. Peter Skoronski, IOL, Northwestern

Skoronski is almost certainly going to be a guard in the NFL and there’s no reason to think he won’t be a good one.

The Park Ridge native has been great since stepping in for Rashawn Slater at left tackle, but he probably lacks the length to play tackle in the NFL; anything less than 33 inches all but guarantees a move inside. The Bears also might want to kick the tires and see if Skoronski can play center.

8. Keion White, DE, Georgia Tech

White seems to be a true ‘eye of the beholder’ prosect. Daniel Jeremiah has him ranked inside his top 10 players in this draft, while others have him as a second-round pick. At 6’5″-280 pounds, he is another big defensive end who flashes athleticism on tape. It will be important for teams to see how well he moves in the agility drills at the combine to determine if he can play on the edge or would be best used inside.

Tier Four

9. Devon Witherspoon, CB, Illinois

If cornerback was a bigger need, Witherspoon would be higher on this list. The Bears are set on one side with Jaylon Johnson and surely expect Kyler Gordon to make a big leap next season. They also got good play at times from Kindle Vildor and Jaylon Jones. Witherspoon is physical and competitive, reminding one of Jaire Alexander.

10. Bijan Robinson, RB, Texas

Most consider Robinson to be among the best overall players in the draft and his drop would be almost entirely to the lack of positional value.

But he is a stud and a backfield with Robinson and Justin Fields would be terrifying for opponents. Imagine if the Bears could combine David Montgomery’s ability as a pass catcher with Khalil Herbert’s explosiveness, that’s what Robinson is. He would give the team a bell cow to take pressure off of Fields.

We shouldn’t rule out the Bears investing in the position, either. Ryan Poles was with Kansas City when the team used a first round pick on a running back and offensive coordinator Luke Getsy was with Green Bay when they used a second-round pick on a running back, knowing they’d be giving Aaron Jones a big contract. (Though I mostly just threw Robinson in here to create chaos.)

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