It wasn’t a particularly interesting draft for the Bears, content-wise. They had lots of picks, and lots of needs. They used those picks to address those needs. Simple as that.
But we’ll start with our club.
The Bears clearly have two elements required to be a successful franchise: an identity and a plan. They want to be fast and athletic (who doesn’t?) but they also want to be tough. They drafted a whole bunch of tough guys this weekend. Ryan Poles is not going to be swayed by popular perception. He stands pat, he trusts his evaluations, he makes his picks. It’s refreshing to see.
As of now, the offensive line looks to be Braxton Jones – Teven Jenkins – Cody Whitehair – Nate Davis – Darnell Wright. Thoughts on this:
While many, including myself, wanted to see the Bears select a center, it is quite understandable that they didn’t see the position as a priority. Offensive lines need SOME veteran leadership and outside of Whitehair, the average age on the rest of this line is 24.
The offensive line was poor last year, outside of Jones and Jenkins. Ryan Poles has replaced the other three positions.
Lucas Patrick and Larry Borom can now fill their appropriate roles, with the former as swing depth inside and the latter as swing depth outside.
The Bears were manhandled in the middle of their defensive line throughout the 2022 season. Look at the size they have added inside:
Andrew Billings is 6’1, 311
Rasheem Green is 6’4, 279
Demarcus Walker is 6’4, 280
Gervon Dexter is 6’6, 312
Zacch Pickens is 6’4, 300
There is no reason to get overexcited about day three selections, but running backs tend to be the exception. And the Bears are wild about Roschon Johnson. Don’t be surprised if they give this kid an opportunity to be their starting running back.
Tyler Scott is a speed addition, protection for Velus Jones’ struggles in 2022. Does this mean Velus’ roster spot is tenuous? It might. If Scott shows he can steal those jet sweeps and go routes, while also contributing on specials, Velus could find himself looking for a home this summer.
The Bears are improved on both lines, hypothetically. If the hypothesis becomes fact, they’ll be playing meaningful football in December.
There is no question that Ryan Poles prefers not to make a selection at nine. But operating under the assumption he’ll have no other choice, here is a survey of who folks out there believe he’ll take.
Peter Schrager at NFL.com: Christian Gonzalez. “This strong, smart, speedy corner out of Oregon (via Colorado) is a gamer. The Bears have so many needs, and snagging a top cover man with the ninth overall choice makes them better tomorrow.”
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Peter Skoronski. “I’ve gone back and forth on which offensive lineman the Bears will take here, but Skoronski is the best on my board (No. 8 overall), even though I like him a little more as a guard…Chicago needs a right tackle, which is why I projected Darnell Wright here in my two-round mock. I’d be confident in Skoronski’s ability to learn the position.”
Ryan Wilson, CBS: Paris Johnson Jr. “… since this draft class is deeper at EDGE than OT, Chicago takes Paris Johnson Jr. here. He played LT last season at Ohio State and was the RG during the ’21 season. Protecting Justin Fields is Priority No. 1, and they can circle back at pick No. 53 (or even 61) to get that pass rusher.”
Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today: Paris Johnson Jr.
Arjun Menon and Brad Spielberger, PFF: Paris Johnson Jr. “Unless Jalen Carter is still on the board, the Bears should pivot back to offense with their first pick and reunite Fields with tackle Paris Johnson Jr., who allowed a 4.4% pressure rate on true pass sets in 2022, good for 20th in the FBS despite it being his first year starting at left tackle. Johnson played right tackle in 2021, which is where Chicago has its biggest hole along the offensive line. The Bears also deploy the popularized outside-zone-based rushing attack, and Johnson’s 85.5 run-blocking grade on outside-zone runs in 2022 ranked sixth among FBS tackles.”
WalterFootball: Darnell Wright. “Darnell Wright didn’t allow a single sack to Hendon Hooker last year.” (Side note: Don’t click that link unless you want to ruin your phone/computer. WalterFootball is the reason I’ll never let ads overwhelm this site. What’s the point? He’s rendered his site unnavigable for a few bucks.)
Danny Kelly, The Ringer: Jalen Carter. “Carter’s slight fall stops at no. 9, giving the Bears a high-upside building block for their interior defensive line. The former Georgia star brings three-down potential as a pocket-collapsing pass rusher and difference-making run defender.”
Vinnie Iyer, The Sporting News (which I was thrilled to find out still exists): Peter Skoronski. “Skoronski, who had a great Combine from his running through his smooth positional drills, can deliver as their immediate starting left tackle with his smooth quickness and athleticism on the edge.”
So, it seems there is a general consensus around the world of the Draft Industrial Complex that the Bears are going to find a starter for their offensive line with this pick. I agree. The Bears showed us the team they want to be on offense in 2022. They want to maul opponents with their rushing attack and utilizing the passing game off that run. But when the run game wasn’t dominant, the passing game was nonexistent. That’s because they couldn’t protect their quarterback on obvious passing downs.