Nothing says we’re in the heart of winter like reading Mel Kiper Jr.’s first 2023 NFL mock draft of the year while snow falls outside your window.
There isn’t anyone who does mock drafts like Mel. And no one has been doing them for longer. And when the Chicago Bears have a first-round pick, I’m ready to pay more attention to the mock draft circuit than I have in recent years. Having the first pick helps. Especially when you consider the options the Bears have when it comes to what they can do with the pick.
With that in mind, Kiper lays out the situation thusly:
I thought long and hard about a trade here, with the Colts, Raiders and Panthers as the top candidates to move up for a quarterback. And if I’m Chicago general manager Ryan Poles and I can move down a few spots, add premium picks and still get my choice of the best defensive prospects, I’d make a deal. It takes two teams to make a trade, however, and that’s never a guarantee. For now, let’s stick with the Bears keeping this pick.
I keep reading this paragraph, but can’t do it without chuckling. Mostly because I find myself trying to get into Kiper’s shoes when trying to approach his first mock draft of 2023.
There is a non-zero chance Kiper wanted to mock a Bears trade-down. Not only does it make sense, he even rattled off the Colts, Raiders, and Panthers as teams that made sense. Kiper even made a note that trading down is something he would do if put in GM Ryan Poles’ shoes. But even with that being said, I feel as if Kiper found himself thinking: “A mock draft trade takes a lot to figure out and I’ve probably got a gazillion more of these I have to do, so I’m just going to pretend that it won’t happen. It’s easier that way.” And, in fairness, I get it.
So let’s move on to Kiper’s forecasted selection of Georgia defensive tackle Jalen Carter and the analysis that goes along with it.
Chicago’s roster needs help from top to bottom, but its defense was particularly dreadful in 2022, ranking last in the league in sacks (20) and points allowed per game (27.2). It has to be D all the way for wherever the Bears make their selection. Carter, an explosive interior pass-rusher and run-stuffer, gets the nod over Alabama edge rusher Will Anderson Jr. on my Big Board. He’s the best player in this draft, a Day 1 starter in the middle of this defense.
Firstly, I’d like to express my excitement to be inundated with mock drafts from now through the end of April. Secondly, I’m into Kiper sending Carter to Chicago. Not only because Carter is Kiper’s No. 1 prospect, but also because of Carter’s seemingly perfect fit within this defense. The Bears need a mother-trucker in the middle of the line. Someone who can stop the run, move the pocket, pressure the quarterback, and dictate the action in the trenches. They didn’t have that last year and it showed up on game tape and in the box score. Addressing that position should be a priority for the Bears this offseason. And doing so in the draft would be an absolute joy.
As for the rest of the top of the mock, you can check it out here:
We have 92 days between now and when the Bears officially go on the clock. And even though there have been two notable mock drafts that have Chicago standing pat, there are nearly three months for that to change. Stay tuned.